Windows Phone 7 Reaches RTM :DSeptember 2, 2010
Yes, yes, I know – Apple updated their iPods, iTunes & Apple TV. But who cares – it wasn’t very innovative anyway and in fact the Nano lost features in return for a weird touch screen interface, so let’s ignore that!
It has been a big week for Microsoft. Today Microsoft’s brand new innovative Phone OS called Windows Phone 7 reached the Release To Manufacturing stage today! This means that this version of the OS is complete and is being sent out to phone manufacturers now to put onto their phones and add their own customisations to it. The final version of the developer tools that anyone can download for free and build apps for the phone will be available September 16th and the Marketplace will open to developers so they can upload apps in early October. The phones should reach Europe by October, US by November and hopefully Australia by December! So it’s very exciting, but I wanted to share (and I had this post planned for a few days, so today’s announcement is a co-incidental pleasant surprise) some information about the awesome apps being developed for the phone.
Unlike the iPhone apps which only really scroll up and down, the Windows Phone apps will be panoramic experiences if the app developer decides to build their apps this way, which means you can scroll up and down, but also left and right to access “different pages”. The idea is to make the content front of stage rather than the interface. The interface is simply there to show the content, not to take over the content – so in some cases such as the calendar or email app, it’s very blank and bland because it’s just text you want to look at, while the Music & Pictures apps look really graphical and stylish. Manufacturers & phone companies won’t be allowed to completely change the interface of the phone like that have in the past (just like they can’t modify major parts of the iPhone), but they will be allowed to add some apps to the phone. Here is an example of what Telstra’s app will look like.
It looks pretty cool, but this isn’t the whole app. Because of the Panoramic experience, where you can scroll left and right and up and down, there is plenty more in this app that you can’t see. You can see the start of the next page on the right and if you scrolled your finger to the right (using a flick or drag), it will move pages. The title also gives you a clue, because the word Telstra One is cut off, meaning more pages are available. Here is what the entire app will look like, with the phone layered on the top to show you how much fits on one screen.
Another example of an app for Windows Phone 7 in development (I’ll just say now, none of these apps are completed yet and will be updated when the final version of the Developer Tools arrive on September 16th) is Twozaic – which is a Twitter client for the Windows Phone. Again, the main idea here is content, there is little UI such as buttons etc and the main thing is the content.
Another example of content being the most important thing about Windows Phone 7 is the lock screen. On the iPhone, the lock screen is actually a pretty useless screen, it shows you the time and maybe a text message, but other than that it is pretty useless until you unlock it and open the specific app. The Windows Phone 7 lock screen not only displays the date and time, but also – the number of missed calls, unread text messages & emails and also the upcoming calendar appointment. This is so you can pull the phone out, and see all of this information at a glance without even having to unlock the phone!
Finally Windows Phone has something called Hubs which sections of the phone, where apps or services which are linked to each other such as the Pictures Hub where pictures from the Camera, Phone Storage, Facebook, Flickr and other services are all put together, the People Hub where Windows Live, SIM & Facebook contacts all appear together (and merged into one profile per person even if they’re on multiple services) and the Music/Videos Hub which integrates the Zune store, music and videos uploaded to the phone via the Zune PC Software and also services such as Last.fm and Pandora. Here’s the People Hub.
So that’s Windows Phone 7 for now – I hope to get myself one of these sometime next year 🙂