Microsoft finally announced the Windows Phone 8 – the software giant's answer to Apple and Google in the smartphone arena. Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 is the company's attempt at rebuilding their brand value in the mobile world. Microsoft knew it was losing ground in the mobile world that was dominated by Android and iOS, and the Windows Phone 8 feature sheet clearly shows that it has tried hard to keep up. The company also showed off its new tablet range last week – Surface for Windows RT and Surface for Windows 8 Pro. Here’s a quick face off of the Windows Phone 8 operating system with the iOS 6.
The Windows Phone 8 is a refreshing change from what we’ve seen earlier. We instantly fell in love with the live tiles concept when it was first launched, as they appeared refreshing and vibrant. With Windows Phone 8, Microsoft has ensured that the homescreen experience becomes even livelier. The tiles are highly customizable, and come in three different sizes, complete with several colour themes. Microsoft also bid goodbye to their right hand vertical scrolling list of applications, it instead, now offers everything in just one screen. Apple’s iOS 6 doesn’t have a lively or colourful layout or even widgets, like Android, the company has instead, maintained simplicity over the years. The iOS 6 start screen is simple and there are no tiles or widgets, but a menu that stretches across pages. Apple lets you create folders that help you segregate and customize the homescreen pages. It’s quite evident that though Apple has been adding several new features to the iOS iterations; it has tried to maintain utmost simplicity in the user interface for its loyal users. Though Apple fans may not complain about the boring user interface, we would like to see a change.
Browser and Enterprise
With RIM’s BlackBerry losing ground in the enterprise sector, Apple’s iPhone has supposedly become the next choice, followed by, of course Android devices. The newest iteration of Windows Phone is also gearing up to attract this base, and we feel it has much better chances. Just imagine, using your Windows desktop apps, that you love dearly on tablets and smartphones. Talking precisely about smartphones – Windows Phone 8 is building applications to cater to workplaces and the IT industry. It offers apps, like the Company Hub, corporate-style apps (which need certification from Microsoft) and encryption based on BitLocker, which is the same technology that is used on desktops to encrypt data. Then there is Internet Explorer 10 that is touted to be faster and secure with advanced anti-phishing abilities, while also offering a SmartScreen filter to block malicious websites. On the other hand, Apple also strengthened its corporate capability, with a list of features. Firstly, it strengthened the Safari web browser and now it also features an icon-based redesigned sharing menu. It also includes the ability to sync with tabs across other iCloud devices and read items from Reading Lists offline. There are a host of features, like Do Not Disturb, Unified messaging and video calling, Multiple Mail signatures and VIP Mail filtering, which may attract the corporate sector. Both are trying hard to fill in this space, but after spending some time catching up, Microsoft may be successful in being the favourite among the white collared, we think.
Windows Phone 8 is expected to be swift, and quick with support for multiple cores. This will allow hardware makers to push the boundaries of their smartphone specs, as it has support for 64 multi-core processors. Microsoft may continue to partner with Qualcomm (which will offer SoCs for WP8 phones) and also set a strict guideline for OEMs, which means manufacturers may probably not be able to use other SoCs in the new WP8 handsets. Apple brought in support for dual-core with the release of their iOS 4.3. With the new iPad, it continued with support for dual-core and bumped up the graphics. The iPhone 5, which will feature the iOS 6, will see support for dual-core and possibly above. Windows Phone will now support higher resolutions like 1280 x 768 and 1280 x 720p. Apple’s iPhone 4S came with the Retina display featuring 960 x 640-pixel. The iPhone 5 is expected to equip a larger screen and probably a spruced up resolution. Let's wait and watch what OEMs can get on to the table with the new Windows Phone 8.
Navigation has emerged as being one of the most important factors to be possessed by a smartphone. Mapping is seen as a plus point for Google, with all the Google listings, among other things. However, this year, iOS, which had been using Google Maps earlier, came out with its own Maps powered by TomTom. Windows, which earlier offered the not-so-successful Bing Maps, saw a new hope in Nokia Maps that came with the Lumia series of handsets. Windows Phone is expected to feature Nokia Maps, which not only offer the usual turn-by-turn navigation, like others, but also add in downloadable international maps. It also offers 3D street navigation and Nokia's Navteq Traffic Service. Apple now has its own mapping app and it integrates it with real-time traffic updates. Another most talked about feature is Flyover, which offers a 3D view of cities. Here Apple, however, supposedly plans to put to use its popular voice assistant, Siri, to guide users and offer additional functionality. We think, both are on equal ground here.
The Windows Phone Marketplace has more than 100,000 apps and several apps are on their way. Windows Phone 8 just added an audible app for audiobooks, official apps from Chase and PayPal are in the works, while Gameloft has Windows Phone versions of Asphalt 7: Heat and N.O.V.A. 3 Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance on the way. Moreover, apps and games intended for Windows Phone 8 will work on Windows RT and Windows 8 Pro, which will help bring seamless integration and convergence. Considering the current scenario, Apple is a clear winner here as its App Store has been around for a while and is inundated with apps in almost every segment.
Current Windows Phone users may be disappointed, as they will not get the Windows Phone 8 update. However, Microsoft plans an update, called Windows Phone 7.8 for the existing devices, which will bring to them the WP8 start screen with customizable live tiles. iOS 6 is expected to roll out in the next two months. It had been made available for devices launched since 2009, like iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad 2, new iPad and the fourth generation of the iPod Touch. However, all iOS 6 features won't be accessible on older devices.
New calling features with iOS6..
Here, Windows Phone 8 adds removable microSD card support, allowing users to load their devices with easily movable content. Apparently, one may not require the Zune software for transferring content. Apple still stays loyal to its iTunes, and there isn’t support for microSD cards. Moreover, Windows Phone adds NFC support – another factor that goes missing on iOS devices. If Apple has the new Passbook feature to store passes and tickets, then Microsoft has announced the Wallet feature with the Windows Phone 8. However, Apple has more goodies in its miscellaneous section, like the Siri functionality, which has undergone some more grooming for the iOS 6. In addition, it has Shared Photo streams and guided access.
As we’ve said earlier, Microsoft’s new Windows Phone 8 is promising, but with the iPhone 5 and Jelly Bean in the works, it may have to do some catching up. What do you think, will Windows Phone 8 be an iOS 6 killer?
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