Google may have gatecrashed Microsoft’s party by announcing a flurry of Nexus devices along with Android 4.2, but today has always been about Microsoft and Windows Phone 8. Many of the features of Windows Phone 8 have already been revealed over the past couple of months, but the Redmond company has still saved plenty for the long-awaited announcement today.
First and foremost, Data Sense for Windows Phone 8 will ensure you don’t exceed your data allowance by keeping a watch on how much data you’re getting through. Receiving that bill for hundreds of dollars over what you expected is never fun, but with WP8, those nasty surprises should be a thing of the past. In addition, it compresses web pages you browse to ensure you use minimal data, and will hunt for Wi-Fi wherever possible.
A guest account is one of the key features of Windows Phone 8, and Kids Corner allows parents and guardians to regulate the content children should see. It can be disable for those who don’t wish to use it, but when fired up, it can be programmed to show only the applications you wish to show.
From a social aspect, Windows Phone 8 offers some great features. A new Facebook app allows users of the social network to check out Facebook calendar events and notifications straight from the lock screen, and can also add photos from Facebook to the lock screen. Meanwhile, the new Twitter app offers improved performance and notifications, while an updated version of Skype offers the ability to run completely in the background – receiving calls and messages even when it’s not running.
Live Apps bring useful info to the Start screen, for example flight information, Groupon deals, and news headlines. Info is delivered in real-time, and this feature is one of the most attractive of the ecosystem in general.
Microsoft’s Windows Phone Store offers 120k apps at present, and with the App and Google Play Stores heading for the million milestone in the not-so-distant future, it’s certainly not a great deal. Then again, Microsoft has promised many of our favorites will be arriving this fall, including Temple Run, Pandora, and Angry Birds Star Wars, so eventually, Microsoft’s online content hub will be somewhere near what we’d consider to be "substantial."
Another key feature of Windows Phone 8 is Rooms. If you wish to communicate with one specific group as opposed to your entire social network, you can create private groups with specific friends or peers. Of course, the prerequisite is that everybody within the group has Windows 8, but it’s certainly an interesting feature and one business users will likely take advantage of.
There’s Wallet and NFC support for easier payments and transactions, and your WP8 device will of course store all of your relevant payment information.
Apart from all these new features announced today, Windows Phone 8 packs a ton of other features which you can read about in our original announcement post back from June this year.
All the new and stunning Windows Phone 8 devices from Nokia, Samsung and HTC will go on sale this weekend in the UK from mobile operators and retailers such as EE, O2, Three, Vodafone, Carphone Warehouse and more. In the U.S. and the rest of the world, these devices will be available in November.