Microsoft announced its new mobile operating system, Windows Phone 8, to a group of developers Monday.While the company’s announcement was developer-centric, we still have a good idea of some of the consumer-facing features Windows Phone 8 devices will have when they launch later this year.
We collected the most important new stuff for you here.
What does that mean in English?
Windows Phone 8 software will be very similar to Windows 8. That means developers will easily be able to bring apps from Windows 8 to Windows Phone 8 and vice versa. It'll be very similar to the experience of getting the same app on your iPhone and iPad.
Windows Phones have been criticised for running hardware that's relatively weak compared to other top-of-the-line phones.
Windows Phone 8 will fix that, adding support for phones with powerful dual-core chips. It won't be long before you see Windows Phones matching Android phones and the iPhone on hardware specs.
Windows Phone 8 will also support removable storage with Micro SD cards.
Windows Phone 8 will support crisp displays capable of showing 720p HD video. Get ready for Windows Phones with brilliant displays like you see on Android phones and the iPhone.
Windows Phone 8 will support near field communications (NFC) chips. These chips can talk to other nearby devices, allowing you to share content like photos or video with your friends. Many Android phones like Samsung's Galaxy S III already sport similar NFC features.
Microsoft is working on a new digital wallet app that'll let you make mobile payments with your Windows Phone. The wallet will also support third-party apps so you can store gift cards, aeroplane passes, concert tickets, etc.
Unfortunately for U.S. users, it looks like Windows Phone 8 won't support credit card payments until next year due to carrier restrictions. (AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile have their own payments services.)
Microsoft's newest browser, Internet Explorer 10, will also work on Windows Phones. This is the same browser that'll ship with Windows 8 tablets and PCs. Explorer 10 has been redesigned from the ground up to match Windows 8's new 'Metro' look.
Nokia has an excellent mapping product, so we're happy to see it come to all Windows Phones when Windows Phone 8 launches. The app will let you store maps offline, which is super handy if you don't have a data connection.
You'll also get turn-by-turn directions.
Perhaps the biggest user-facing feature we know about so far is the new Start screen for Windows Phone 8. You'll be able to adjust the size of your Live Tiles so you can fit more content on your screen. Developers will be able to program their apps' Live Tiles to display different information based on the size you choose.
Windows Phone 8 will be more business friendly. In addition to built-in Microsoft Office apps, Windows Phone 8 includes better encryption and security. IT managers can also access devices and apps remotely if they need to.
If you own a Windows Phone like Nokia's Lumia 900, you will not get the update to Windows Phone 8. That's because the two operating systems work on different types of hardware.
However, there is an update coming to Windows Phone 7.5 soon that'll give you a few Windows Phone 8 features such as the new Start screen.
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