Microsoft has some major changes in store for Windows Phone 8, which is the version of the platform currently being referred to by codename “Apollo” (the one scheduled for deployment after the upcoming Tango update). Thanks to a video hosted by senior vice president and Windows Phone manager Joe Belfiore, and intended for partners at Nokia, a number of WP8 features and themes have now been revealed.
According to Belfiore, the overarching theme with regards to the Windows Phone 8 hardware ecosystem will be scale and choice. Specifically, Apollo will add support for multicore processors, new screen resolutions (a total of four, although actual pixel counts weren’t specified), and removable microSD card storage.
Near field communication will also be supported, with Belfiore placing specific emphasis on 8’s push into contactless payments. The “Wallet experience,” as he calls it, will have the capability to be carrier-branded and controlled, either by a secure element on the SIM card or utilising hardware in the phone itself. In addition, tap-to-share capabilities will reportedly work across multiple platforms, allowing desktops, laptops, tablets, and phones to all share content.
Windows 8 integration:
Windows Phone 8 won’t just share a UI with the next-generation desktop and tablet OS, it will use many of the same components as Windows 8, allowing developers to “reuse — by far — most of their code” when porting an app from desktop to phone, according to Belfiore. He specifically mentions the kernel, networking stacks, security, and multimedia support as areas of heavy overlap.
The Xbox Companion app, currently found on Windows Phones, will see a partner client on Windows 8. Skydrive support promises seamless sharing of data between devices; Belfiore gives the example of instantly having one’s music collection available on a newly-purchased Windows Phone, without the need for a PC sync.
Microsoft expects 100,000 apps to be in the Marketplace at the launch of Windows Phone 8 which is rumoured to be happening sometime in the fourth quarter. Also mentioned is support for app-to-app communication, as well as a revamped Skype client that hooks directly into the OS, letting Skype calls behave almost identically to regular, non-VoIP telephony. The camera will now be based around so-called lens apps: Microsoft provides a basic camera interface that can either be skinned by OEMs or overlaid with viewfinders from third-parties. Belfiore gives the example of a lens app that combines burst mode with smile detection to capture a perfect portrait shot.
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