New Windows Phone 8 Features detailed

I just took a quick tour of the Windows Phone 8 emulator bundled in the Windows Phone 8 Developer Preview SDK that leaked just a few hours ago and decided to take some screenshot to show you some of the new UI tweaks and Features implemented in Apollo. Beware that there’s a lot of images after the break and not a whole lot of text (just a few lines to describe what’s on the screen). So just hit the break to see what Microsoft has been cooking for this fall release and some nice features that have been long overdue.

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Windows Phone 8 Application platform detailed

The relatively big news today is the sudden appearance of the soon to be released Windows Phone 8 Developer Preview SDK which has leaked a few hours ago via Microsoft’s own password protected servers. Instead of making tons of posts detailing every single feature of the OS simply to generate hits I’m going to provide you with the detailed overview of the Windows Phone 8 application platform which I’m going to copy and paste (from the SDK) below after the break for those of you who aren’t able to get their hands of the Docs or the full SDK package. I’m also currently installing the full 1.3Gb Binaries on by Windows 8 desktop (important note: The WP8 Preview SDK is only compatible with the Windows 8 X64 Release Preview) and will make another post later on detailing the emulator. UPDATE: My WP8 Emulator overview is here.

The following document will go into details comparing Windows Phone 8 and Windows RT (hint: there are some important differences), The Direct3D feature set supported by the OS, the built-in Native Nokia Maps implementation, Camera features, NFC features Native code and XAML support. So just head over to the break to check it all out:

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HTC Windows Phone 8 devices specifications leaked

It didn’t take long for HTC’s upcoming Windows Phone 8 roadmap to leak just one day after the official unveiling of the new platform. According to the Verge’s sources the Taiwanese manufacturer is planning to launch 3 handsets before the end of the year: HTC Rio, HTC Accord and HTC Zenith. Each model will target a specific price point thanks to the new HW chassis flexibility provided to OEMs with WP8. Check out the specification after the break.

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Nokia Drive to be available on all Windows Phone 8 phones. No longer exclusive to Nokia’s

Here’s a surprising piece of news that flew under my radar yesterday: Nokia Drive will no longer be exclusive to Nokia Lumia handsets on Windows Phone 8 and be made available to all other platform partners (OEMs) which means that HTC, Samsung and Huawei handsets will feature it too. Some may see this news as one less reason to get a Nokia Lumia handset but if you look at the big picture here the point of this move is to push the whole ecosystem further as it was announced back when the Microsoft Nokia deal was signed. Remember that every Android smartphone has turn-by-turn driving navigation for free and with WP8 Microsoft will have a similar offering. Windows Phone 8 will also integrate Nokia Maps as the native mapping service in Windows Phone 8.

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Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile to carry Windows Phone 8 devices this fall

The three major US carriers have pledged support for Microsoft’s recently unveiled Windows Phone 8 platform and announced that they will carry Apollo based devices by the end of the year. An AT&T spokesperson had the following to say:

“AT&T plans to carry a new line of Windows Phone 8 smartphones launching later this year. The unmatched leader in Windows Phone – offering the very first 4G LTE Windows Phone smartphones in the U.S. – AT&T is home to the most robust Windows Phone portfolio of any carrier.”

Verizon will also finally get off its lazy butt:

“We have said publicly that we will support the Windows Phone 8 platform,”

While T-Mobile issued an official blog post on the matter:

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Windows Phone 8 unveiled: Features and specifications

Microsoft just took the wraps off Windows Phone 8 today during the Windows Phone Summit in San Fransisco. As you probably be know by now current Windows Phone 7.X handset won’t be upgradable to WP8 but will instead receive Windows Phone 7.8 and you will understand why in a shot while after getting a small glimpse at what Apollo will bring to the table later this fall.

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Windows Phone 8 to launch this fall with only four OEMs: Nokia, HTC, Samsung and Huawei all powered by Qualcomm

What I have been predicting for more than a year has finally been confirmed today when Microsoft announced that all the future Windows Phone 8 handsets launching this fall will be powered by Qualcomm‘s SnapDragon S4 Plus / MSM8930 or MSM8960 SoC with the Adreno 225 or Adreno 305 GPU, which seems to once again be the only certified chipset partner for the platform. What is more surprising though is that only four OEMs are on board this time around: Nokia, HTC, Samsung and Huawei. The rest are ..well..nowhere to been seen and frankly we shouldn’t care given the total lack of creativity and effort that was demonstrated in the past. For more Windows Phone features info hit the link after the break.

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No Windows Phone 8 upgrade to current Windows Phone 7 handsets: Windows Phone 7.8 unveiled

Microsoft has unfortunately just announced that none of the Windows Phone 7.X handset currently available will be upgradeable to Windows Phone 8. Nope, never, nada, zip… Instead Microsoft is announcing Windows Phone 7.8 which will be a free update that will be pushed ALL Windows Phone handsets bypassing carriers (and downloadable via WiFi) that will will simply add the new Windows Phone 8 start screen to all “legacy” WP7 handsets. Other WP8 features which are not hardware dependent may or may not be part of WP7.8 (Nothing has been officially announced yet). That’s it folks there’s nothing else to say here. That shiny Nokia Lumia 900 you got last week will be stuck forever with the Windows CE based WP7.X platform. Feel free to comment below and share your thoughts (or anger..).

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Windows Phone 8 screenshots leaked

They are indeed really small and blurry but do look like the real deal. A handful of Windows Phone 8 screenshots have apparently leaked earlier today ahead of the June 20th unveiling. So let’s take a closer look at what we’ve got here.

The first screenshot you see above is the DataSmart functionality which was discuss by Joe Belfiore in an internal Nokia video a few months ago that Pocketnow had in its possession. This will allow user to track their cellular/Wifi data usage per app and per service.

This screenshot shows the video call integration in the Windows Phone 8 without the need of any thrid party application like Tango for example. Skype and the soon to be launched RCS-e standard:
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Future of Windows Phone aka Windows Phone 8 to be unveiled on June 20th

Microsoft is finally set to unveil the “future of Windows Phone” which will surely be the first sneak peak at Windows Phone 8 aka Apollo on June 20th during special developer event in San Fransisco. Not much else is known for now but Microsoft will for the most part probably talk about developing for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 via WinRT and finally spill the beans about the future of Silverlight as a development platform for Windows Phone applications.

Let’s just hope that Redmond will also give us some concrete information regarding the upgrade path to Apollo of the current Windows Phone 7 handsets (hint don’t get your hopes up..but everything is still possible).

First Adreno 320 Benchmark results

Here’s a little something that should brighten up your day and hopefully give some credence to the rumored Nokia Lumia PureView rumor that poped-up a little while ago. The unicorn device in question supposedly packs an Adreno 320 GPU which should only be available in two Sanpdragon S4 SoCs later this year: the Quad-Core APQ8064 (w/out the modem) and later the Dual-Core MSM8960 Pro. It now turns out that Qualcomm is right on track with its roadmap and is already sampling the APQ8064 for its OEMs which means that there’s a chances that we will see Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 devices powered by these SoCs in the coming months.

The LG-E970 Android 4.0 handset (known as the LG-LS970 on Sprint) is already in wild and has been cough running the GLBenchmark suite lately to test out it’s beastly Adreno 320 GPU. Unfortunately for us the results aren’t really that interesting given that they were ran with Vsync on (@ 1280×768). Check out the result in the screen shot after the break:

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Windows Phone 8 may or may not come to current handsets. Won’t stop them from working if it doesn’t

Windows Phone 8 will be available as an update to current Windows Phone 7 handsets….or not. Nobody, I repeat, nobody really knows the answer for certain. So everything you have been reading in the past few days, hours should be filed under the rumor tag. At the day of the day the question is: Does it really matter? Well, in terms of PR, Marketing and overall user trust, not releasing a Windows Phone 8 update (or a subset of it) for, at the very least, the second generation of Windows Phone 7 handsets (especially Nokia’s) would be one of the dumbest move Microsoft will have ever done. Remember, we are talking about the same company that launched the horrendous Kin handsets. Sadly, anything is possible with the boys and girls in Redmond so don’t get your hopes up.

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Alleged upcoming Nokia Windows Phone 8 handset specs and renders leaked: PureView and Adreno 320 GPU on board

As it’s usually the case with such things I’ll first advice you to take the following info with a pinch of salt and remain cautious. According to two supposedly leaked Nokia internal slides what you see here is the upcoming flagship Nokia Windows Phone 8 handset which will unsurprisingly sport the 41Mpx camera sensor introduced by the Nokia 808 alongside a Xenon flash, a 4.3″ curved HD Display (no AMOLED?), a dual-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro which includes the Adreno 320 GPU (surprising..was expecting it to be for tablets only at first…). The phone also has an enigmatic “Rich Recording” video recording technology. I personally wouldn’t be surprised if the device’s name was Nokia Lumia PureView

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The Nokia Lumia 900 isn’t going to save Windows Phone or Nokia

Time to put things back into perspective. I’m assuming that you all have already glanced over most of the Nokia Lumia 900 reviews today and noticed that the general consensus is that the device is great but definitely not earth shattering. Well, this was to be expected when you see it for what it really is: an over-sized Lumia 800 (with a Gyro, LTE modem and FF Cam) or more accurately a Samsung Focus S with an LTE Modem (and obviously better materials). Any sane person who isn’t a rabid Microsoft fanboy or hater would agree with this. Unfortunately not much more can be done with the current Windows Phone 7 chassis hardware specifications so Nokia and other OEMS are stuck releasing essentially the same phones until Windows Phone 8 Apollo is finally unleashed. Case in point: the Nokia Lumia 800 / 900 camera is undoubtedly held back by the Qualcomm MSM8x55 ISP. Nokia is known to use it’s own imaging silicon for its handsets but was unfortunately not allowed to do so in the Lumia line of devices (reason why the N9 with the exact same Sensor shoots better photos..). This will have to change soon if the Finnish company plans to pack its future flagship Windows Phone handset with the PureView 41MP camera. Fortunately we have learned that the Camera stack will be fully customizable by the OEMs in Windows Phone 8.

Speaking of WP8, there’s now the update issue looming over the Lumia 900 launch and gigantic marketing blitz. We are now getting close to HTC HD2 levels of insanity in terms of unknown when it comes to the upgrade path to Windows Phone 8 for the 1st Gen and 2nd Gen Windows phone 7 devices. In the case of the HTC HD2 we all knew that it for the most part conformed to the Chassis 1 specs but Microsoft decided that sacrifice its historical Windows Mobile fanbase and start from scratch with the WP7 launch in fall 2010. No big deal I guess as this allowed HTC to milk the same hardware platform with the HTC HD7 and HTC HD7S…meh. Unfortunately not allowing current 2nd Gen WP7 handsets to upgrade to Windows Phone 8 would be pure suicide on Microsoft’s part especially after all the hoopla that AT&T, Nokia are going to do this month. Imagine buying what is supposedly the carrier’s flagship handset and be notified a few weeks/months later that your device won’t be update to the latest OS iteration. This would be worse than the Android situation. The mystery here is that nobody outside of Microsoft and its OEM partners knows if the current handsets are powerful enough to cope with the new software unlike the HTC HD2 situation.

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Microsoft details Windows 8 on ARM: Shows Kernel running on years old Windows Phone

If you still had any doubt that Windows Phone 8 would be based on the Windows 8 kernel Microsoft just detailed the new desktop OS support for the ARM architecture in a lengthy posted today courtesy of the company’s Windows President Steven Sinofsky. Besides all the in-depth info provided in today post which I highly recommend you to read Steven also posted pictures of a rather old Asus Galaxy Windows Mobile 6.5 smartphone running a very early build of the ARM version of Windows 8 back when Microsoft didn’t have access to ARM based prototype tablets.

Other info included in today’s blog post is the claim that Windows 8 ARM tablets are still scheduled to start shipping during the same time frame as the first X86 tablets later this year. Windows 8 on ARM will also feature the desktop view contrary to what some rumors have claimed in the past few weeks and also offer regular Office software support. More importantly Windows on ARM aka WOA will not support any type of virtualization or emulation approach, and will not enable existing x86/64 applications to be ported or run. So if you want the best of both world and X86 based tablet will be your best option this fall. Anyway, head over past the break to see WOA in action and to the source link to read all about about it. If you are the proud owner of a Samsung Slate 7 BUILD Edition (the developer version) and want to sell it please contact me here as I’m really interested in getting one ASAP.

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Windows Phone 8 features detailed

The good folks at Pocketnow who apparently managed to get their eyes on an internal Microsoft/Nokia video hosted by Joe Belfiore (I say apparently because they haven’t posted the video and it isn’t clear if they actually saw it or if they are reporting what somebody saw in it) detailing most of the new features coming with Windows Phone 8.

First of all the OS will be, as we all have been expecting, based on the Windows 8 Kernel and share the same networking stack, multimedia and security support as its bigger brother. This means that most Metro applications developed for Windows 8 will be easily portable to Windows Phone 8. Once again nothing really surprising here. Native code development will also be part of the show this time around and finally enable developers to creating richer applications and games. Microsoft is also apparently going to ditch the Zune desktop software in favor of an ActiveSync like integration with Windows 8 while Xbox and Skydrive integration will finally be fully backed into both the desktop and mobile OS (Ie: Music on Skydrive will instantly be available on the phone etc..). Skype which has yet to be released on Windows Phone 7 will also be seamlessly integrated into Windows Phone 8 and the Dialer/Phone application. Third party app-to-app communication will also be supported now. On the business front Windows Phone 8 will support Microsoft’s BitLocker encryption (128bit) and finally enable businesses to easily deploy proprietary software on the fleet of Windows Phones.

Internet Explorer 10 will also include server side compression support (via a proxy server) to reduce page loading times by 30%. This shouldn’t come as a surprise knowing that Microsoft was actually the first company to introduce such feature in the short R&D browser project on Windows Mobile 5 code named DeepFish a few years ago. Hopefully this feature will be optional though. The OS will also include a DataSmart Live Tile Functionality which ill serve as a hub where users can easily track their data usage (a similar feature is present in Windows 8 ) and LocalScout will detect nearby WiFi hotspots too.

On the hardware front Windows Phone 8 will now support four different screen resolutions (not specified) compared to only one right now (WVGA) and also multi-core CPU configurations. Nothing really uprising here given that we all expected it. Micrdo-SD expansion cards support will also be official now and allow users to finally have Windows Phone devices with more than 16Gb of internal storage. WP8 will also have native NFC support and a new Camera API that will allow hardware partners to more deeply integrate their camera.

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Windows Phone 7 apps will run on Windows Phone 8

Just in case you where still putting any faith in that crazy Russian guy named Eldar…here’s another major blow to his latest FUD against Microsoft and Nokia:

Crazy Russian guy: WP8 os isnt compatible with wp7 on app level (u need to rewrite all apps). Thats another os core with metro ui…

Microsoft: Rewatch Mix11 keynote. We were pretty clear on this. Any app built today will run on next major Windows Phone version.

Windows Phone 7 apps will run on Windows Phone 8. Case closed.

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Windows Phone 8 specifications rumor: Windows 8 kernel and more

My man OIAQ sent me a tweet yesterday about a post on 4PDA.RU which seems to contain inside information about the upcoming Windows Phone 8 OS release (Apollo). The info falls in line with what most of us have been expecting. I just got the chance to check it out and decided to post it just as a heads up (and so that some folks will not say that I’m now completely out of the loop..) so here’s the low down:

- “WOA platforms will require that all desktop binary images be signed with a trusted Microsoft certificate. Any unsigned code will fail to load … This … does not cover Metro Style applications for which there is a separately documented signing requirement and developer licensing”

- “Windows Phone “Apollo” brings together platform parity with Windows 8, experience parity with Windows Phone “Mango”, and a set of new features and functionality developed for Windows Phone “Apollo”.”

- “Platform parity means that the phone OS is now based on the Windows NT kernel instead of the Windows CE kernel. Windows Phone “Apollo” uses the Core System from Windows 8, which is a minimal Windows system that boots, manages its hardware and resources, authenticates and communicates on a network, and can be managed at a basic level.”

-”The final significant changes of note are the adoption of ESENT, also known as Jet, for the database engine, and the managed-code runtime. Rather than using the .NET Compact Framework from Windows Phone 7, Windows Phone ”Apollo” uses the Core CLR produced by the Developer Division at Microsoft.”

-”Only SDHC cards formatted as FAT or exFAT are supported. If the card is unformatted or contains an unsupported format, such as NTFS, the SD card will be formatted according to the SD specification if the user accepts the format prompt. This means that SDHC cards (cards less than or equal to 32GB) will be formatted as FAT”

- “The internal user store will not have this limitation since it is formatted as NTFS”.

-”Texus Shell (TShell) is a tool that allows you to interact with Windows Phone “Apollo” phones via a Windows PowerShell command prompt. You can copy files to the phone, execute processes, attach a debugger, run commands using the phone’s command interpreter, and run test content stored on WTT test servers”

-”The Windows Phone “Apollo” release ports the ambient light, proximity, magnetometer, compass, and gyroscope sensors from Windows Phone “Mango”. It also incorporates the accelerometer, which was a standalone implementation in the previous OS version”,

- “You can use Hyper-V to test x86 builds of the phone OS”

So there you have it folks. Seems highly accurate but treat this a a rumor until the official announcement later this year.

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Nokia Lumia 800 Diagnostic Tool hints at Multi-Core Windows Phones ?

Slow news day folks so here’s a little interesting thing (that may turn to be nothing…) that I just noticed in the latest version of the Nokia Lumia 800 Diagnostic Tools embedded in the 11501/11500 firmware. As you can see in the picture above there’s settings sub-menu that allows the user to enable/disable HSDPA, Auto Answer and USB Hub. None of the options work right now (HSDPA is obviously already enabled on all handsets) but there’s an interesting pop-up message when you attempt to enable the USB Hub functionality:

For use in multi-core devices only. When USB Hub is turned on USB charging will no longer function…

Multi-core devices? What’s that exactly? Could be bad wording (technically any modern smartphone has “multiple ARM cores” in the SoC: the CPU, the Radio etc) but it could also hint a future Dual/Quad core powered Windows Phone 8 handsets that are scheduled to be unveiled later this year. Remember that the same Diagnostics app also contains a Gyroscope test which is not functional on any Nokia devices yet (only the Lumia 900 has one) and also hidden LTE menus that hinted at the Lumia 900 prior to its unveiling. Anyway, grab some salt and run with it.