Microsoft has released a new preview of its Skype app for Windows Phone 8, bringing with it a number of performance enhancements and bug fixes. The biggest change, however, is the temporary removal of one of the app’s most exciting – if buggy – features: People Hub integration.
The app’s integration with the People Hub and its ability to run in the background and surface incoming chats and calls as if they were part of the OS are both cool and useful, making them banner features for Skype. Unfortunately, the former was known to cause stability issues with the People Hub, resulting in crashes and many other frustrating things. As a result, the feature has been temporarily disabled in Skype for Windows Phone 8 Preview 2.1. Hopefully, the Windows Phone and Skype teams will be able to quickly resolve the issue.
Thankfully, incoming chat and call notifications are now much more reliable and messages are also guaranteed to be displayed in the correct order. Other improvements include an updated keyboard with autocorrect, a new option to toggle toast notifications for Windows Live Messenger contacts (this is very helpful if you don’t want to have duplicate notifications from Skype and the Messaging Hub), and labels for friends who are on Windows Live Messenger rather than Skype.
Microsoft has revealed a few things about Windows Phone 8, but there’s still a lot we don’t know about yet. One of those features is Kid’s Corner, a new form of parental control that allows you to create a customized version of the Start screen.
The Kid’s Corner works much like your traditional Start screen, but it lacks editing functionality and the full app list. A special wizard is used to set up the Kid’s Corner, allowing you to choose which games, music, videos, and apps are accessible from the locked down Start screen. Windows Phone 8 will also let you specify a unique name, picture, background, and accent color. The feature can be brought up by swiping left on the Start screen, and it looks and feels very similar to the full OS. To exit, simply press the power button.
This sounds like a great feature for parents, but it could also be useful for other people as well. Take, for example, a situation where you have to temporarily loan someone your phone but you don’t want them to have full access to all of your apps, contacts, and other data. Kid’s Corner might be announced as early as next week, at Microsoft and Nokia’s joint press conference in New York.
Many Windows Phone enthusiasts had hoped for a Windows Phone 7.8 Mango-like simultaneous roll-out for the much smaller Tango (8773) update. Microsoft, of course, went a completely different route with the Windows Phone Summit, announcing the new Windows Phone 7.8 update for current handsets. Some devices, like the Nokia Lumia 710 and 800, will receive Tango in the very near future (possibly as early as this week), but it looks like the Lumia 900 won’t get it at all, thanks to its notable absence from the update chart. Furthermore, Nokia has publically stated that the update will only be released for the Lumia 710 and 800.
The Lumia 900, of course, already has a few Tango features like tethering. In fact, there’s a good chance you already have Tango installed, provided you’re not on AT&T or Rogers. The Lumia 710 and 800, on the other hand, have none of these features. Wireless carriers aren’t required to deliver updates right away, but they are required to include them in future updates. So while you might have to wait a few extra months, your shiny new Lumia 900 will receive Tango features like the messaging improvements. It’ll just be delivered in a bundle with the Windows Phone 7.8 update, rather than as a standalone one.
Microsoft hasn’t specified when the Windows Phone 7.8 update will be released. It could be in the very near future, as some have speculated, or it could be as far off as the release of Windows Phone 8 later this fall. Thankfully, waiting for Tango’s features and bug fixes shouldn’t be too difficult. Especially when we have a new Start screen experience to look forward to.
Greg Sullivan, Microsoft’s Senior Marketing Manager, was on hand at this week’s Windows Phone Summit to answer questions about the announcements. After the keynote, he stuck around to show off the Windows Phone 7.8 update running on one of Nokia’s Lumia 900 handsets. In our video above, Sullivan can be seen demoing the changes to the Start screen (note the mention of the slightly modified – and currently buggy – app list). He then went on to discuss the challenges facing Windows Phone and how Windows Phone 8 will meet these issues head-on. The latter half of this conversation can be seen after the break.
Windows Phone 8 has only been official for a single day, but information about the first wave of handsets from Huawei and HTC has already begun to surface. Huawei, a newcomer to Windows Phone, has decided to get ahead of the curve and announce an unnamed Windows Phone 8 handset carrying the company’s Ascend branding. It will, of course, be a “best-in-class smartphone.” The device will initially launch in the US, Europe, and China, with other markets to follow later on.
On the flipside, the specs for three of HTC’s third-generation Windows Phone handsets have already been leaked. The HTC “Rio” is somewhat similar to existing Windows Phone 7.5 devices, thanks to its 4-inch WVGA display, 5MP camera with 720p video, 512MB of RAM, and 14.4Mbps HSPA network speeds. It will, however, include a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 (MSM8227) processor. The HTC “Accord” is a step up, sporting a 4.3-inch 720p Super LCD 2, 8MP camera with 1080p, 1GB of RAM, and 42Mbps HSPA+ network speeds. It will also be one of the first devices to include NFC and a dual-core processor (which The Verge’s sources believe could be a Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8260A). Finally, the HTC “Zenith” improves upon the “Accord” with a 4.7-inch screen and a Qualcomm Snapdragon quad-core processor. The first two devices are expected to be available in October, followed by the release of the “Zenith” during the fourth quarter of 2012.
The moment Windows Phone enthusiasts have been waiting for has almost arrived. At 9:00 a.m. PST tomorrow, Microsoft will unveil the next version of Windows Phone, codenamed “Apollo” and more commonly known as Windows Phone 8.
I will be on hand at the event, covering the news live for Anythingbutiphone’s sister site Pocketables. But don’t worry, you’ll be able to find my impressions here as well. If you can’t make it to San Francisco, you’ll still be able to watch the keynote live stream via Microsoft’s Channel 9 website.
Windows Phone 8 is expected to be the biggest Windows Phone update yet, massively overhauling the operating system and adding support for built-in VOIP services like Skype, Nokia Maps on all handsets, an even better camera experience, NFC and Wallet capabilities, native code for apps, and much more. For the full list of the rumored, confirmed, and debunked features, check out our Windows Phone 8 feature list.
File this one under the rumor category, as there isn’t currently a way to verify the source, but screenshots of a few parts of the Windows Phone 8 (codenamed Apollo) user interface appear to have been leaked. The screenshots seem to be legitimate, and they’re in line with all of the rumors and confirmed features we’ve seen thus far. The four leaked images show off three of Windows Phone 8′s exciting features, including Skype’s deep integration with the OS, the new camera app, and DataSmart.
The first screenshot (above left) shows an incoming video call, presumably from Skype. The interface looks almost identical to an incoming traditional phone call, but it includes a video icon and the option to answer with either video or just voice. The second image also shows off Apollo’s VOIP integration, such as Skype and a generic option for Rich Communication Suite-enhanced (RCSe) services. Note the options for chatting, sharing video, transferring files, and more. The third image shows off Windows Phone 8′s simplified camera app, featuring a new zoom slider and a button for accessing lens apps. Last, but certainly not least, is a preview of the new DataSmart app, used to keep track of how much data you’re using.
The Windows Phone Summit is now less than a week away, so we’ll know everything–or, hopefully everything–about Windows Phone 8 by this time next week.
Microsoft’s Windows Phone Summit is just over one week away, and Windows Phone 8 rumors are finally beginning to surface once again. WPCentral claims to have some juicy details about the next major Windows Phone OS, and we’re inclined to believe them even though there was no mention of a source, confidential or otherwise.
We’ve often heard that Skype will be built into Windows Phone 8–codenamed “Apollo”–but Microsoft might actually be taking this a step further by allowing any VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) service to deeply integrate itself into the core Windows Phone OS. This means that VOIP calls will operate just like a traditional phone call. It’ll be interesting to see how carriers react to this.
Registration for the Windows Phone Summit–formerly known as the Windows Phone Developer Summit–is now open. You’ll need to know the secret registration code in order to reserve your spot, but Microsoft also plans to live stream the event for those who can’t make it to San Francisco on June 20, 2012. The summit was originally scheduled to take place on June 20 and 21, but Microsoft compressed it into a single day and expanded its focus from Windows Phone development to Windows Phone as a whole.
A “sneak peek at the future of Windows Phone,” the summit is sure to bring with it the first official reveal of Windows Phone 8 codenamed “Apollo.” We’ve been maintaining a list of all the features in Apollo, but the rumors and leaks have been few and far between as of late. With any luck, we’ll finally learn just how much Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 have in common, as well as whether or not existing devices will receive the update. Of course, we’re more interested in the actual OS update itself, which is expected to be the biggest Windows Phone update to date.
The live stream is scheduled to start on Wednesday, June 20 at 9:00 a.m. Simply tune in to Microsoft’s developer network, Channel 9, to watch the summit from the comfort of your own home. Get ready; Windows Phone 8 news is just over two weeks away.
Last year, Microsoft added more than 500 features to its mobile operating system as part of the Windows Phone 7.5 “Mango” update. When the company officially unveiled the update near the end of May 2011, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer proudly touted Mango’s 500 features. But with no further details available, we decided to take on the job of maintaining a list of every publicly announced feature in the update. “The Great Windows Phone Mango Feature List” quickly became one of the most popular features in the history of our site. With details about Windows Phone 8 “Apollo” beginning to surface, we decided it was time to do it again.
As with last year, we have broken down the list into four categories: new, confirmed, rumored, and debunked. New features are just that, brand new. This category includes never-before-seen features direct from Microsoft. Rumored features, on the other hand, are unconfirmed. They run the gamut from reliable to wild speculation. Confirmed features were previously rumored, but later confirmed by the software giant. Debunked features, finally, started off as rumors and were eventually proven false.
The beautiful Nokia Lumia 900 is manufactured from a single-piece injection-molded polycarbonate shell and features a 4.3-inch AMOLED ClearBlack Display (CBD), 1.4GHz processor, 16GB of internal memory, 512MB of RAM, and a 1830mAh battery. Performance-wise, it can best nearly every device on the market. The 8MP Carl Zeiss camera takes fantastic photos, and the quality of the 1MP front-facing camera is astounding. The intuitive Windows Phone OS, support for AT&T’s 4G LTE network, and $99 price tag are just icing on the cake.
Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX
The Motorola DROID RAZR was easily one of the best Android phones of 2011. It was one of the first seriously thin phones and it had the best specifications, durability, and styling to come out of Motorola in a long time. Now, with the introduction of the MAXX variant, it's almost irresistible, even to those currently locked into a contract. With Verizon’s 4G LTE, a 1.2GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, and a 3300mAh battery pumping out over 21 hours of talk time, the Motorola DROID RAZR MAXX is ecstasy wrapped in Kevlar.