The next step in Windows Phone 8

The next step in Windows Phone 8
With the impending arrival of many exciting Windows Phone 8 handsets, it's now a great time to take a moment to reflect on some of the defining new features that make the latest version of Microsoft's mobile OS a serious contender in the smartphone race.

HTC 8 homescreens
Microsoft has smartly concentrated on filling the gaps in Windows Phone 8 functionality, while also not forgetting to improve the platform's existing strengths. As a result, it won't immediately appear much different to an untrained eye in comparison to Windows Phone 7. There’s still the vertical grid of ''Live tiles'' - animated squares and rectangles that are placed in a vertical grid on the homescreen. These not only allow you to effortlessly access your favourite applications, but also enable you to read various useful updates regarding your social networks, emails and calendar. With Windows Phone 8, however, you can now resize these tiles, allowing you fit more information on the homescreen. The other major area of improvement that concerns the interface is the new lockscreen, which now can display notifications from the built-in and 3rd party applications.
Skype app on HTC 8
Speaking about apps, the popular VoIP service Skype has been more tightly integrated into the OS, and you can video chat here with a single tap – just like you used to when text messaging. With mobile Internet usage becoming more prevalent these days, Microsoft has also provided Windows Phone 8 with a very useful service called Data Sense. In a nutshell, the service will automatically adjust your Internet data usage by compressing web pages or downsizing images you download on your phone according to your Internet limit. Data Sense will even help you find Wi-Fi hotspots to preserve mobile data, and you can easily track your data usage from a live tile on the homescreen.
Data Sense on HTC 8X
Microsoft also prominently displayed the 'Kid's Corner' feature, which basically lets you choose which apps children can access on your phone. Children get their own personalised homescreen, all the while adults can choose to lock out specific features like social media, email and web browsing. It's a novel feature at first sight, but there are no doubt plenty of parents that will be thankful for the opportunity to give their phone to children without having to worry about accidentally deleted emails or contacts. Also new to Windows Phone 8 is 'Rooms', a feature not unlike Google Plus that lets you conveniently share notes, calendar events and chat rooms between a specified groups of people. According to Microsoft, the feature will be even accessible to users on the competing mobile platforms.
Rooms on HTC 8S
But perhaps the most important changes in Windows Phone 8 can be found under the hood. Windows Phone 8 now shares native C and C++ code with Windows 8, allowing developers more easily port applications and games between the two platforms. Along with exemplary services like Microsoft Office or Xbox Live, the cross-compatibility should go towards greatly improving the Windows Phone’s app ecosystem, and, ultimately, the platform's long-term prospects.

With other new additions like USB mass storage mode, support for multi-core possessors and high-resolution screens, Microsoft has finally given phone manufacturers the freedom they need to deliver cutting edge hardware to the market. And already there are plenty of reasons to get excited, as the upcoming Windows Phone 8X and 8S from HTC are the very definition of what a modern smartphone should be - with an HD screen, dual-core processor and unibody design to match the graceful elegance of Windows Phone 8.


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