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 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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Windows Phone in 2012: Predictions and wishes

Time for me to share with you my 2012 Windows Phone predictions and wishes now that you are all probably enjoying your new Mango handsets (or 1st Gen phones running Mango..). Keep in mind that what I’m going to post bellow is nothing more than speculations on my part so don’t quote me on that (well unless it turns out to be true later down the road…). So let’s start with what I wish Microsoft fixes, adds in the coming months in Tango:

- Universal search (this one is most probably coming..)
- Fix the frame dropping video playback issue that I seem to be the only person on earth who has noticed it (was present on my HTC Titan sample and both my Lumia 800 which makes me believe that’s it’s a OS issue with the MSM8255)
- Release Skype and Photosynth for Windows Phone: The silence surrounding both apps is intriguing. I wouldn’t be surprised if both where directly integrated into the OS instead of released as third-party apps (wishful thinking..I know).
- Ability to delete more than one picture or video at a time in the pictures hub
- Basic photo editing (crop, rotate, re-size)
- Basic video editing functionality (this one will have to wait for Windows Phone 8 I guess)
- SMS / MMS Backup (looks like this one is in the works “Come join the Windows Phone Backup, Migrate, and Restore team. Our goal is to ensure that no matter if someone loses their phone, drops their phone in a lake, buys a new windows phone, or just has their toddler wipe their phone by entering the wrong PIN over and over, a user can quickly and seamlessly get their phone back to a good state. The features we are producing will be new for the next version of Windows Phone and will help ensure Microsoft stays ahead of the competition when it comes to disaster recovery.” )
- MMS videos!
- Ability to assign different ring tones to groups or individual contacts Totally forgot that this was already made available in Mango. sorry for that.

Now let’s talk about Windows Phone 8. It will be announced in 2012 but I’m not really confident that MWC is going to be the venue used by Microsoft to unveil it. As you have probably already heard Microsoft is no longer going to keynote at CES after 2012 and will instead have it’s own events to unveiled announce new products similar to what Apple has been doing lately after it dropped from the MacWorld Expo. This is why I’m thinking that Microsoft may only announce Tango during MWC this February and simple tease WP8 for a further announcement closer to the middle of the year. Here’s what I’m hoping for Windows Phone 8 aka Apollo:

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Windows Phone 8 Apollo coming mid 2012 ?


Grab some tissues and a pinch of salt! According to a Nokia VP Michael Halbherr, Executive VP present at Nokia World in London Windows Phone 8 aka Apollo will launch in mid- 2012. That’s nearly 6 months earlier than what everybody else was expecting. Nokia is rightfully pushing Microsoft to include NFC support in it and full integration of Nokia’s Navteq mapping assets. Once again, treat this as a rumor but things may be getting a little more interesting than expected in the coming months unless this VP is confusing Tango with Apollo.

UPDATE: As I expcted that Nokia VP was on something nasty…the original story was updated with a note saying that the “timing was inaccurate”..no sh@t Sherlock? Back to our regular news/rumors/nonsense schedule… Apollo = Late 2012 Tango = mid 2012. Mark my words…
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NVIDIA launches Windows 8 developer program

As I noted yesterday; NVIDIA, alongside other hardware manufacturers, is heavily involved in the development of Windows 8 and to prove this the company has just launched its own Windows 8 developer program to help developers by proving tools and and resources for building ARM and X86 applications. You can expect Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, Intel and AMD to launch similar developer programs in the coming weeks.Remember that you will be able to start downloading the developer preview of Windows 8 tonight at around 8PM PT. Full press release after the break:

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Windows Phone 7 applications and games show up in the Windows 8 store

Here’s something interesting that just popped up during the Build Keynote and sort of confirms what we have been recently hearing: Windows Phone 7 applications may be compatible with Windows 8 (and here). As you can see in the screenshot above several Windows Phone 7 Xbox Live games are listed in the games section: Tentacles, Parachute Panic, Geo Defense etc… It is still not know if this is really going to be the case or if only a simple recompile will get WP7 apps and games to run Windows 8.

Edit: An on stage demo just showed how easy it is to develop the same app on Windows 8 and Windows Phone:

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Windows 8 Developer Preview launching today

Microsoft has just announced that the first developer preview of Windows 8 will be made available later today at 8PM PT:

You probably want to try out the preview release—and you can. Starting at 8PM today, Seattle time, you can download all of the code that attendees at BUILD received. This includes 32 or 64 bit x86 builds, with or without development tools. The releases also include a suite of sample/SDK applications and the SDK (please note these are merely illustrations of potential apps, not apps that we intend to ship with Windows 8). The ISOs are linked to from http://dev.windows.com. You download with a Windows Live ID (which you might want to use to test out some of the new roaming features).

Remember that this can be installed on virtually any PC released in the last 5/6 years. But if you really wish to start developing for Windows 8 and want to experience it the right way then it’s time to pre-order the Samsung Slate PC Series 7 today (see it running Windows 8 here). Microsoft has also release to PDF documents describing the current state of the OS and the Developer preview build:

UPDATE: You can now download the Windows 8 Developer Preview directly from here.

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Microsoft’s first Windows 8 tablet from Samsung

Microsoft is expected to give away a Samsung slate tablet to all registered developers attending the Build conference in LA today. From the looks of it the device is either the recently unveiled Samsung Slate PC Series 7 (powered by an X86 intel i5) or a ARM version of it powered by NVIDIA Kel-El quad-core CortexA9 SoC. In either cases we will know more about it in the coming hours. For more Windows 8 info check out my recent post about the Windows Phone 8 convergence and for more about NVIDIA’s future SoC and mobile plans don’t forget to listen to Jen Hsun keynotes.


UPDATE
:there’s now an unboxing video of it in action after the break. The device seems to be the Samsung Slate PC Series 7 (there’s the Intel Logo on the box) loaded with a developer preview of Windows 8 (Edit: Videos are now set to private.They should be back up in less than 2 hours once the Build Keynote starts).

UPDATE: Watch the device in live action during Build Keynote after the break:

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NVIDIA unveils upcoming Tegra Roadmap. Hopes to power all platforms even Windows Phone

Nvidia‘s CEO Jen Hsun Huang discussed and partially unveiled his company’s Tegra roadmap last week during the Citi Global Technology Conference and the Kaufman Brothers, L.P. Investor Conference. As of right now Nvidia’s Tegra SoC are principally powering several high-end Android smartphones and the vast majority of Android 3.0 tablets but things are bound to change in 2012 with the launch of Windows 8 (the ARM version in this case). NVIDIA along with Qualcomm and Texas Instrument are all working on getting their upcoming SoC to work with Windows 8 and it is also expected that Microsoft is going to start handing out free Win8 prototype tablets powered by NVIDIA’s new Quad-Core Cortex A9 Kal-el Chipset this week to all developers at the Build conference in LA.

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Windows 8 Hardware recommendations for OEMs

Microsoft discussed the new hardware recommendations for the upcoming Windows 8 tablets and slates today during the OS’s unveiling at the Computex trade-show in Taiwan. According to Microsoft Corporate Vice President Mike Angiulo Windows 8 devices manufacturers will have to follow strict hardware guidelines when building products similar to Windows Phone 7 OEMs right now. Three ARM chipset manufacturers are currently certified to for Windows 8: Qualcomm (Press Release here), Texas Intrusments (Press Release here) and NVIDIA. ODMs and OEMs will apparently (according to Acer) only be allowed to deal with one of the three SoC makers for their whole line of Win8 products.

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NVIDIA acquires baseband and RF chip manufacturer Icera

NVIDIA’s current Tegra line of mobile SoCs have one glaring weakness: they don’t integrated a built-in baseband / RF radio so OEMs have to combine NVIDIA‘s offering with an other companies radio module ( usually Qualcomm, STE etc..). This is essentially means that designing a Tegra based handsets can be more expensive and time consuming for and OEM compared to other competing platforms like Qualcomm’s SnapDragon which includes everything from the GPS receiver to the FM radio. Today’s announcement that the GPU’s giant will acquire baseband and RF chip manufacturer Icera is a big step forward and will probably incite more OEMs to use nVidia’s upcoming mobile SoCs. Press release after the break:

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First Adreno 220 benchmarks show that it is a beast

Qualcomm’s Adreno GPU’s have always been seen as being a sub-par graphics compared to competing offerings from Imagination (PowerVR) and others like NVIDIA’s Tegra. This was essentially true with the Adreno 200 on Windows Mobile and Android mainly because of poor driver quality. Things are a bit different on Windows Phone 7 where the Adreno 200 is the only currently supported GPU, thanks to the tight integration with the OS and relatively good support provided by Microsoft. You can check out my recent Fable Coin Golf video to see that some pretty nice things can be done with it.

The Adreno 205 which is part of the MSM8X55 SoC package is a step forward in terms of performance and can be comparable in some case with the current top dog, the PowerVR SGX540 as seen in my benchmarks here. Qualcomm has also recently released new drivers for the 205 which slightly improves its performance compared to what you see in my benches (they are the ones used by Sony Ericsson in the Xperia Play).

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PlayStation Certified games coming to Tegra 2 powered Android devices

The Android ecosystem is about to see some consolidation in the near future and may become a viable gaming platform thanks to Sony recent investments. NVIDIA has just announced (via the Android Tegra Zone) that the PlayStation Suite framework and associated PlayStation Certified games will be compatible with Tegra 2 powered devices (tablets and handsets). Sony PlayStation certified games have so far only been shown running on Qualcomm’s MSM8X55 platform running on the Adreno 205 GPU like the Xperia Play which you can see in action in my hands on video here.

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NVIDIA Tegra Zone Android Market section officially launched

People familiar with the PC Graphics industry know that one of NVIDIA‘s biggest strength is its developer relation and evangelism publicly know as The Way it’s Meant To BE Played program. With the arrival of the first Tegra 2 powered Android devices NVIDIA has officially launched its Tegra Zone section in the Android Marketplace which is only accessible to devices powered by the company’s chipsets. It contains graphically upgraded version of current big hits like Fruit Ninja and other exclusive that are supposed to showcase the power of the GPU inside the Tegra2 SoC. Keep in mind that most of these games could technically run on other competing products (like the SGX540) but this is unfortunately way things are done in the industry. Companies have to differentiate theirs products one way or another so you get even more fragmentation in the ecosystem as a result. But there’s no denying that NVIDIA’s hardware offering is one of the best right now and from what I saw at MWC they are really pushing hard to get a foothold in the mobile market. Full press release after the break and video of the Trega 2 in action:

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Samsung Galaxy S II to either use a Tegra 2 SoC or Exynos 4210 depending on region. Enter the Samsung GT-i9103

As noted on the official Samsung Galaxy S II specs sheet the Samsung application processor powering the device “May not be applicable in some regions”. This essentially means that there are going to be other versions of the device sold in some regions with an SoC other than the Exynos 4210. Turns out that it will most probably be the Samsung GT-i9103 which is powered by nVidia’s Tegra 2 ( it just showed up in the GLBenchmark database).

Continue reading Samsung Galaxy S II to either use a Tegra 2 SoC or Exynos 4210 depending on region. Enter the Samsung GT-i9103 →

LG Optimus Pad preview: Hands on video

The LG Optimus Pad is planned to be the second Android 3.0 Honeycomb tablet to hit the market later this year after the Motorola Xoom finally launchs at the end of this month in the US. What sets the Optimus Pad apart from its direct competition is its physical size and smaller 8.9 inch screen (15:9 aspect ratio) which was specifically designed to be easily portable with one hand. The device also packs two 5 Mpix cameras to shoot 720P 3D Stereoscopic content which can then be viewed on a 3D enabled TV through the device’s HDMI port, directly on the device screen in red/blue anaglyph mode or uploaded to YouTube’s 3D channel. Out of all of the Honeycomb tablet’s I’ve played with the LG Optimus Pad was surprisingly the snappiest and smoothest even though they were all powered by the same nVidia Tegra 2 chipset. But I’ will obviously reserve my final judgment until the final retail products are released. Check out my hands-on video after the break:

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Tegra 2 powered LG Optimus 2X 1080P video sample

Ready for some interesting footage? Techblog.gr has made public one of the 1080P footage shot with the LG Optimus 2X android smartphone powered by nVidia’s Tegra 2 SoC. It doesn’t really look bad but isn’t really exceptional either but this may be due to the relatively poor camera lens or sensor. The footage has a bitrate of 9Mbps which isn’t super high but enough in this case and isolates between 23 and 24fps. You will also notice that the camera unfortunately doesn’t seem to have any continuous auto-focus when shooting videos. Check it out after the break:

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Microsoft announces support for ARM architecture in the next Version of Windows

It’s now official folks! The next version of Windows (Windows 8?) will be compatible with X86 processors and ARM based SoCs from nVidia, Qualcomm and Texas Instrument. So what does it really mean ? Well not much for now. Windows Phone 7 (and its future versions) will still be Microsoft only smartphone OS but the company is apparetnyl positioning the next version of Windows as their primary and only Tablet platform. Read the full press release after the break:

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LG Optimus 2X Dual-Core Tegra 2 powered Android handset officially launched

LG has officially unveiled and launched the LG Optimus 2X (also know as the LG Star) today in Seoul. The Optimus 2X is the first commercially available smartphone to feature an nVidia Tegra 2 chipset which includes a Dual-Core Cortex A9 CPU coupled with a higher clocked GPU similar to the one found in the original Tegra. The device has a 4″ WVGA LCD screen, 8GB of internal memory (expandable via the micro-sd slot), an 8 MPix camera, 1.3Mpix front facing camera, HDMI out and the ability to encode/decode 1080P videos. It will first ship with Android 2.2 but will be receive an Android 2.3 / Gingerbread update in the future. Check out the LG Optimus 2X specifications and press release after the break:

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