Today, at the annual Build developer conference, Microsoft announced the very highly anticipated Windows Phone 8.1.
Here’re the key enhancements coming with Windows Phone 8.1:
- New Action Centre
- New interactive Lock screen experiences
- 3rd medium column of Live Tiles to all screen sizes.
- New Homescreen background
- Cortana digital assistant powered by Bing
- Support for enterprise VPN and S/MIME
- Updated Calendar w/ week view
- WiFi Sense app: Let you automatically connect to free public hotspots
- Independent volume controls
- New calling screen
- New shape writing on WindowsPhone 8.1 keyboard
- Internet Explorer 11 with in private browsing
- New enhancements to the WP 8.1 Store, including personalised suggestions
As part of their new push for 2014, Microsoft is making it a lot easier for OEMs to use Windows Phone in their phones.
There will no longer be pre-approved OEMs, and any company can use Qualcomm’s reference design.
Microsoft also announced 8 new OEMs, including:
Karbonn, Solo, LG, Foxconn, Gionee, JSR, Lenovo, Longcheer, Xolo
Together with existing OEMs HTC, Samsung, Nokia, Huawei and ZTE the OEMs present 56% of all smartphone OEMs, which Microsoft of course hopes will translate into a significant increase in Windows Phone sales, which is currently dominated by Nokia.
At Mobile World Congress 2014 Microsoft announced dual-SIM support for Windows Phone.
In what they called a “Total control Dual SIM experience” users will have dual Phone Live tiles, Dual Messaging Live tiles and the ability to link messaging tiles.
Microsoft did not announce it, but the first device with this feature is expected to be the Nokia Lumia 635.
The Bing Team recently announced a comprehensive update for their existing Bing apps on Windows Phone (Bing News, Bing Finance, Bing Weather, and Bing Sports) and introduced 3 brand new apps: Bing Food & Drink, Bing Health & Fitness, and Bing Travel. Bringing the of offering of Bing Apps to 7 great apps. The ability to sync between your Windows PC or Tablet and your Windows Phone is a great way to seemlesly keep up to date on all your devices.
Bing News - The beautiful, photo-rich Bing News app makes it easy to stay up to date on the news that matters most to you. Designed for Windows Phone,the News app lets you easily choose your favorite news sources. Swipe through for a quick read of the headlines. Go deep with personalized coverage of the topics you’re passionate about. Or, search the day’s stories from your choice of trusted sources from around the world.
Bing Finance - The Bing Finance app helps you stay on top of fast-changing market conditions so you can make the most informed financial decisions. Designed for Windows Phone, the Finance app puts your watchlist at your fingertips. Swipe through informative charts for a quick read on the day’s events. Quickly check exchange rates on the go using the Currency Converter tool.
Bing Weather - The Bing Weather app helps you prepare for the latest conditions with hourly, daily, and 10-day forecasts. Designed for Windows Phone, the Weather App features beautiful weather images and maps, easily customized to track conditions for the places you care about. Catch the forecast on your Live Tile, check radar maps, and view historical details so you’re always aware of weather on the way. Note: Some features may not be available in all markets.
Bing Sports - From NBA season to the upcoming MLB season, Wimbledon and NCAA March Madness, Bing Sports takes you there! The app makes it easy for you to keep up with all the sports and teams you care about. Swipe through the app to get an overview of the top headlines, scores, schedules, standings, and statistics across all the major sports around the world. Personalize the experience so you can track the leagues and teams that interest you with Live Tiles, Scoreboards, and Game Summaries.
Bing Food & Drink - The Bing Food & Drink app makes it easy to explore recipes, choose wine and cocktails, and learn how to make your next meal a taste-tempting success. You’ll enjoy beautiful photos, easy to follow instructions and helpful tools such as a shopping list and collections. Keep your shopping list synced across your devices. Share your recipes, shopping list or collections with family and friends. An indispensable companion, the Food & Drink app will have your kitchen sizzling.
Bing Health & Fitness - The Bing Health & Fitness app helps you stay on top of health and fitness trends and provides the tools you need to support a healthy lifestyle. Designed for Windows Phone, the Health & Fitness app brings together great fitness, nutrition and health content, along with trackers, tools and other features. Set your daily calorie goal, record what you eat and get nutritional information for over 300,000 foods. Choose from hundreds of workouts and exercises with step-by-step instructions, photos and video. Use the GPS tracker to record your time, distance, pace and calories burned while you walk, run, bike and do other activities. Enter symptoms to get information on possible health conditions with the Interactive Symptom Checker. Keep your tracker data synced across your Windows 8 devices.
Bing Travel - The Travel app, powered by Bing, provides you with destination guides, user travel photos, expert reviews, daily trip ideas, hotel listings and much more, all from the convenience of your phone. Check airport arrivals/departure status and pin a flight you are tracking to your start screen. Make last minute flight bookings after comparing the best price from multiple providers. Use the new Nearby feature to find inspiring photos, attractions and more around you right now, whether at home or on your travels.
Microsoft created Windows Phone App Studio Beta as a powerful but easy-to-use tool to help hobbyists, enthusiasts and new developers create content-based apps from end to end, all within a web UI.
To date 350,000 developers of all skill levels have used Windows Phone App Studio Beta, resulting in 300,000 projects and 20,000 apps published to Windows Phone Store.
Today Microsoft released a significant update with some enhancements for Windows Phone App Studio Beta.
So what is new?
A redesigned UI. We looked at the most-used actions and streamlined the workflow, so the tasks you do most often are faster and easier to execute.
A touch-enabled UI to help support your App Studio development work on a variety of form factors and browsers.
A rebuilt emulator, which now supports dynamic text updates, so you can see your changes on the fly.
New features: Image conversion from JPG to PNG, full-screen image rotation, and a more fluid integration of sections and data sources, increasing the usability of the apps you create.
Better structure, readability, and performance of the source code that you create using App Studio Beta. Source code structure is now based on MVVM.
New templates for businesses, for building apps quickly that showcase company and product info.
Ability to generate a full Microsoft Visual Studio project containing both a Windows Phone and a Windows 8 version of your app, to make your app available through the Windows Store on Windows 8 and Windows Phone devices.
Thanks to the collaboration between Nokia, Microsoft and Sky, starting from middle of December the pay-TV service on the go will be available for all Windows Phone 8 Nokia Lumia devices in Italy
Milan, Italy – Sky Italia, Nokia and Microsoft have announced the global debut on Windows Phone of Sky Go, the service that allows users to view 30 pay-TV channels on the go. Thanks to this agreement, one of the most loved applications – already chosen by 1.9 million Sky subscribers – will be coming to the entire Nokia Lumia family in Italy starting from the middle of December.
The agreement allows Sky to enhance its mobile service by offering some of its most prestigious content to owners of Windows Phone 8 Lumia smartphones, which are increasingly widespread in Italy, in addition to allowing Nokia to enrich its cutting-edge models with the application that truly allows TV to be taken outside the home.
“Sky Go on the Windows Phone 8 platform is a world exclusive for Italy and a true Christmas present for our customers,” said Paola Cavallero, General Manager, Nokia Italia. “We are particularly pleased with the partnership with Sky as it will further increase the satisfaction of our Italian users of Lumia devices. This app, in addition to the recent arrival in the Store of other successful brands such as Instagram and Vine, will be available on the entire Lumia family stretching from the Lumia 520 to the new Lumia 1520 with its high-quality 6-inch screen.”
“We are pleased with this important agreement thanks to which Sky Go for the first time in the world will be making its debut on Nokia Lumia smartphones and the Windows Phone 8 platform,” said Remo Tebaldi, Customer & Product Marketing Manager Sky. “Sky Go is thus taking a further step on the path of innovation, allowing an increasingly broad segment of our subscribers to enjoy ever richer and more compelling viewing experiences. In fact, this partnership will boost customers’ chances to access their favourite programs on devices such as the new Nokia Lumia 1520 that guarantee the standard of excellence that has always set Sky apart.”
“We are enthusiastic about our collaboration with Sky and proud that Italy has been chosen for the global debut of Sky Go on Windows Phone. This is further confirmation of the excellent results that have led our mobile operating system to become the second largest in Italy in the third quarter of 2013,” said Silvano Colombo, Consumer Channel Group Manager, Microsoft Italia. “Thanks to Sky Go, the line-up of Windows Phone applications has been further expanded, confirming Microsoft’s commitment to guaranteeing its users access to the best of entertainment on their smartphones as well.”
On Monday, Microsoft added two new members to the Surface family of tablets – the Surface 2 and the Surface Pro 2.
Surface 2 (pictured left) and Surface Pro 2 (pictured right) will each have significant updates, including improvements to processing power and battery life, display and camera resolution and the Kickstand, which now has dual angles, so it’s more comfortable for you to use on your lap or at your desk. Enhancements in Windows RT 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Pro will make Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 even more powerful and customizable.
Surface 2 is available in 32GB and 64GB configurations and will start at $449. Starting at $899, Surface Pro 2 will be offered in 64GB and 128GB configurations with 4GB of RAM, as well as 256GB and 512GB configurations with 8GB of RAM.
In addition, an expanded portfolio of new Surface accessories was also announced on Monday, including the Touch Cover 2, Type Cover 2, Power Cover, Docking Station for Surface Pro, Wireless Adapter for Typing Covers, Car Charger with USB and Arc Touch Mouse Surface Edition. The Power Cover delivers the same great typing experience you get with Type Cover while extending the battery life of your Surface 2, Surface Pro and Surface Pro 2 by up to 50 percent, helping you make it through that late-night meeting or the entire flight.
The Surface 2, Surface Pro 2 and Surface accessories will be available at Microsoft retail stores and select third-party retailers in 22 initial markets. Those markets include Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the U.S. on Oct. 22 and China in early November. Additional markets will be announced in the coming months.
Customers can preorder Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 starting at 11 a.m. PT on Sept. 24 at Microsoft Stores, and Best Buy in the U.S. and Canada, as well as select retailers in most Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 launch markets.
For more detail on the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2, read this press release. More information is available over on the Surface Blog and the Microsoft News Center.