Today was the Microsoft and AT&T Windows Phone 7 (WP7) Event in New York, it was speculated that Microsoft would be showing off an iPad-esqe tablet or another iteration of WP7 for tablet devices but this was not the case. Microsoft stayed on target and only spoke about the Phones and new Phone OS. Currently there are only four partners that announces handsets running Microsoft’s new OS; HTC, Dell, Samsung and LG. the new handset will be released in Europe on October 21st and in north America beginning November 8th by AT&T. the first phone will be the Samsung focus and a couple weeks after AT&T will release the HTC Surround and LG Quantum, all three will cost 199.99 with a two year contract. T-Mobile will be releasing the HTC HD7 mid November and the Dell Venue Pro at an unspecified date. Sprint already has a phone exclusive to them; the HTC 7 Pro will be released the first half of 2011.
The rest of the conference was a big demo with final hardware Running WP7. A couple cool features were shown off like the camera can be accessed weather or not your phone is locked or turned off by holding the camera button for 3 seconds. This will give you access to your phones camera faster and this seems to be a big deal to Microsoft. Minimum requirements for Windows Phone 7 are a 5MP camera with flash and a hardware button. You can also set up your phone to upload photos taken automatically to the cloud. The camera software gives you easy access to previously taken photos with the swipe of a finger, a small part of the previously taken photo shows on the left of the screen. You can also use both of your fingers to pinch the photo to create a filmstrip view of the photos taken to more easily find the photo you are looking for. Once you have found the photo you are looking for it’s only a couple clicks away to upload said photo to facebook.
The outlook app was shown off and it looks very polished. It is made to sync with the desktop version of outlook nicely with features such as flags and meeting invitations through exchange. This is all well and good if you are running your own exchange server but for the rest of us who mainly use web based e-mail the mobile outlook will sync with hotmail, g-mail and yahoo services. WP7 was built to be intuitive so it recognizes things like numbers and addresses which when touched will open Bing maps and locate the address clicked.
As well as being integrated throughout WP7, Bing is opened with one of the standardized hardware buttons. The development team wanted Bing to be a quick and easy to use, one way they implemented this is voice search, by holding the windows button for a couple seconds a voice recognition system shows up and you can just speak what you are looking for. Another way Bing is made quick and easy is instant answers, certain search results will be given in instant answers such as flight information for movie times.
Facebook is integrated into WP7 in a lot of innovative and thoughtful ways. In your peoples hub it will pull peoples image from their facebook profile as well as give you the option to write on their wall along with their phone number and anything else you have saved in their contact. You can also swipe over to the “what’s new” tab and you will see recent updates on their social networks such as facebook, windows live and yahoo. The photos hub also gives you a “what’s new” tab showing what photos your contacts have recently uploaded to their social networks. Along with the photos and folders you sync to your phone you will have access to your facebook photo albums as if they are stored on your phone itself.
The music and video hub was thought to basically be the Zune portion of WP7 but there have been some app integration in the hub. Certain featured apps will have access to the music and video hub giving them access to your music library stored on your device and maybe even background music services for your phone. A couple apps were shown, slacker, iheartradio, YouTube and a lyrics app. It also looks like you might be able to access your Zune pass via 3G. For those of you who don’t know what Zune pass is, 15 dollars a month gives you access to unlimited streaming and 10 downloads a month.
The office hub was also shown off and share point integration is going to be part of the office hub giving you access to those work documents where ever you are… overtime much? For those more interested in after work activities EA was announced as a developer for games on WP7 and a couple games were shown off. Overall the UI seemed very snappy and responsive and all of the reports from those on site have said the same. The Zune software saw an update to 4.7 giving us access to the WP7 marketplace before the phones are even available. Go ahead and download or update the Zune software for free and compare it to your current solution. We are still waiting for Verizon to announce a phone but all in all I think WP7 will have a successful launch and will be a contender in the Smartphone market. What do you think?
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