Smartphone owners have a lot to get excited about in 2012.
Microsoft has just announced its next-generation mobile phone operating system Windows Phone 8, Apple is working on brand new voice recognition and mapping features for iOS 6, and Google is gearing up for some big mobile platform announcements at its I/O developers conference on June 27.
Apple and Google are caught up in a cutthroat race to outdo each other in the mobile software platform. The launch of Windows Phone 8 will finally see Microsoft coming to the party with devices and operating systems that can finally compete.
The smartphone wars are no longer a two-horse race, and that’s exciting for consumers who will ultimately benefit from increased competition.
So what do Windows Phone users have to look forward in Windows Phone 8 (WP8), “the most advanced mobile OS Microsoft has ever made”?
1. Multi-core processor support
Windows Phone 7 hasn’t really played nicely with dual-core processors but WP8 will add support for dual-, quad-core, octo-core and theoretically anything up to 64-cores. For consumers that means faster phones with better multitasking.
2. Bigger, sharper screens
Consumers can also expect the next generation of Windows Phones to have bigger, higher resolution displays. Microsoft is introducing two new screen resolutions (1280x768 and 1280x720) which will enable manufacturers to create handsets with high-definition 720p displays.
3. More flexible storage
WP8 will offer support for removable MicroSD cards, giving users the ability to store more photos, movies, music and data on the phone and allow them to easily transfer the information to a PC.
4. NFC wireless sharing
Wireless sharing is coming to WP8, enabling consumers to share information over short distances. Microsoft explains “ In Windows Phone 8, it helps make sharing photos, Office docs, and contact info easier—just tap your phone another NFC-equipped device.”
5. Internet Explorer 10
WP8 smartphones will have the same web browser that’s coming to Windows 8 PCs and tablets, Internet Explorer 10. The browser offers faster and more secure web browsing plus “advanced anti-phishing features like SmartScreen Filter to block dangerous websites and malware.”
Microsoft’s forthcoming Wallet hub is the company’s answer to Google’s NFC payments and Apple’s soon-to-be-released Passbook app. WP8’s digital Wallet combines both services enabling consumers to store debit and credit cards, coupons, boarding passes and pay with a tap of the phone using a secure SIM produced by your carrier.
7. Better maps and directions
Microsoft is ditching Bing Maps in Windows Phone 8 and replacing it with Nokia’s more advanced mapping solution. The partnership will provide WP8 users with turn-by-turn directions (in 110 countries) and the ability to use maps offline when there is no data connection.
8. Cooler apps and games
The Windows Phone Marketplace hit a milestone of 100,000 apps, and to celebrate Microsoft and Nokia are introducing some much-requested apps including official apps from Chase and PayPal, Zynga games Words with Friends and Draw Something, plus Asphalt 7: Heat and N.O.V.A. 3 Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance. Consumers can also expect a new wave of more advanced apps to arrive on the WP8 platform in the near future.
Additional features on WP8 include more personalized start screens and the integration of VoIP service Skype.
In an email to Relaxnews, Nokia said, "we are excited by the possibilities that Windows Phone 8 brings. It will now share the same core OS technologies as Windows 8, providing a platform for accelerated innovation. It also includes a new UI, new app capabilities, IE10, new hardware support such as NFC, a choice of three display resolutions, SD cards and multi-core processors. With support for 52 languages and with apps available in over 180 countries Windows Phone becomes a global experience with Windows Phone 8."
Windows Phone 8 is due to arrive, along with brand new devices, before the end of 2012.