Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Windows Phone 7 Features and Rumors roundup

My last blog entry about smart phones has produces quite some response, but interestingly all via email. Okay, nobody likes the comment function. Got it.

Meanwhile, new features/rumors/lies (pick one) have emerged, so I’m trying to sum them all up here.

  • Updates for Windows Phone 7 will be released directly by Microsoft

    This is very good since this means you (should) always have the newest release available on your phone. This is better than in Android where the handset maker needs to push out the update (currently only 25% of all Android devices have the newest version 2.2). Given that smart phones are more and more targeted with malware, this should also increase security.
  • No carrier lock

    WP7 does not come with any carrier lock-in, so this means you can simply buy a WP7 phone without a contract and use it with any carrier. There might be phones that will be available only at some carrier, but given that Microsoft has defined very strict hardware requirements, it shouldn’t be a problem to find something similar with ease.
  • “My Phone” feature

    Microsoft has already a site and application called “My Phone” that can be used to backup the data on your phone automatically or ring the phone if you have lost it it somewhere. WP7 will also allow to remote wipe the phone or lock it and display a message. If you every lost a phone, you will love this feature.
  • Any app must disclose advanced services it intends to use

    Any app that intents to use advanced features of the phone (e.g. the GPS receiver) must disclose this to WP7 which in turn will display this list to the user upon the installation of the app. So, if an app want to use push notification you are asked during the installation if this is okay with you.

    If an app tries to use a feature that hasn’t been disclosed, it will be shut down. Although this is borrowed from Android, this really puts the user in control. Any BTW: The iPhone does not have anything close to this.

  • Zune Pass available

    As it seems, WP7 users worldwide will have access to Zune Pass for round about 12€/month. This give you the ability to listen to any song they have in their library as long as you subscription is active. Per month, you can also keep 10 songs at no additional cost.
  • Very clever UI ideas

    WP7 as without any doubt some very clear user interface ideas. My favorite is the idea that the camera shows the live picture and a “slider” on the left. Simply swipe left to right and you see the lat phone taken. Swipe right to left and you’re back on the live preview. Usability: A+.
  • Microsoft will only allow five free apps per developer

    Yes, this is a restriction but actually a good one. We all know that there are several developers out there that make 10 apps “Slideshow Person X”, “Slideshow Person Y”, “Slideshow Person Z” etc. This restriction might not solve this problem, but should improve the situation of having the 457th flashlight app.
  • Payment will not be using Microsoft Points

    Payment is still a big topic. Apple does currently the best job (matching *.99€/$ prices, payable directly with a credit card etc.) and Android/Google Checkout is the worst example. Microsoft will not use their own “currency” Points, but allow direct Credit Card payments with adapted pricing per Country (0.99€ in Europe and 0.99$ in the States)

Please note that nothing major has changed from what I said in my last post. Windows Phone 7 has a nice user interface with a great runtime (.NET/Silverlight) and a near-perfect development tool (Visual Studio). But it also comes with some very big FAILS like the enforced App Store with a censorship review process.

Windows Phone 7 is definitely worth a look once it’s available.

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