We are glad to bring back our guest blogger, Marti M. She recently shared her thoughts on the mobile gaming industry in the post for us “Who’s Your Momma Now?” We are now glad to get her thoughts on the very recent Windows Phone 8 launch event. Enjoy! — Vernon
Today at 1pm EST we got to see Belfiore gush about Windows Phone 8. After a pit stop, nuking a couple of pieces of leftover pizza from last night, and grabbing a giant glass of punch-flavored Kool-aid, I was ready to drink the virtual Kool-aid. I’ll give you a quick synopsis of the hour-and-six minutes, which you can watch here.
Joe Belfiore came out first. After pumping up the crowd a bit (not a difficult feat), a lot of what he said was personal: “We put people at the center of the experience.” “…your smartphone experience…” “Reinvented around you.” It was a LOT of “you”s. So to the meat. First up, “Live Apps.” These will be apps that will integrate into Wallet, into other hubs, onto the lock screen. For example, if you want to keep track of your team on game day, throw up ESPN onto your lock screen and you’ll be able to see the score by only turning your phone on – not even unlocking it. You’ll be able to tag your Facebook photos to your lock screen, giving you an ever-changing lock screen. You can even get your FB notification on the lock screen, or notifications from other apps of your choosing. Joe referred to “moments of delight” as he would see FB photos that were 4 years old that he may have forgotten, and reminded him of good times.
Skype. We’ve all speculated on what would happen with Skype. Okay, it’s integrated (no-brainer). It will also be “always on,” but it will not run the code in the background, therefore it will not drain your battery. That’s a slick trick. I can’t wait to actually See, Experience that.
Belfiore claimed that in short order, Windows Phone 8 will have 46 of the 50 most popular apps “from other platforms.” Unfortunately, Instagram doesn’t seem to be one of those. From the Windows Blog, here are some of the apps and games coming this holiday: Temple Run, Jetpack Joyride, Angry Birds Star Wars, Angry Birds Space (the original Angry Birds is already available), Draw Something, Words with Friends, Urban Spoon (will integrate audio search), Fairway Solitaire, Asphalt 7:Heat, Living Social, Cut the Rope, Where’s My Water, Where’s My Perry, PayPal, and Chase Bank. He specifically mentioned the Unity game engine when he mentioned Temple Run, so more games using that engine will appear, I’m sure. And, of course, as we already knew, the Xbox games will switch seamlessly between your Windows Phone 8 device, your Windows 8 PC, and your Xbox.
The big one that hit me from left field was PANDORA! Yes, we’re FINALLY getting a Pandora app! It will come out “early” in 2013, and thanks to Microsoft, it will be AD-FREE for all of 2013! Hallelujah! That was a surprise, and a nice one.
The next nice nugget (frankly, a few months late) was that the SDK will be publicly available tomorrow. So just check out the 2012 Build Conference.
Data Sense. Okay, this is an integrated data consumption control center. Do you hear that, AT&T? I don’t have to be reliant on your crappy myAT&T app JUST to look at my data usage. Data Sense is going to do other things, too, that maybe will interest the general user. You can pull up a map that will show you nearby WiFi hotspots. If you get too close to your limit, it will begin to adjust the way the phone operates to keep you under your cap. It will also show you what apps are using data. That will be nice to know. Oh, Verizon’s getting it first. Congratulations.
Kid’s Corner. Okay, I’m half in on this one. If you turn this on (if you don’t have little grabby hands, just turn it off and you will never see it), you can SIDE SWIPE at the lock screen, and have an area that your kids can use the apps that YOU PLACE in there (no more accidental tweets, texts, or emails…). Now, yes, they can up swipe and still get into “your stuff,” but MS is hoping (and so am I) that you can train them to only side swipe. Yeah, Belfiore’s daughter kept up swiping, so we can see how well that might work. Yes, he brought out the kids.
Next, he brought out Jessica Alba. She’s evidently an actress? Yeah, I don’t watch TV a lot nowadays. So the gist here was: it’s easy, it’s fun, people like to see her phone (they’ve been letting her use one for a little while), and it was easy to migrate her iTunes library.
Rooms. In the People Hub, you can now create “rooms” to share calendars, photos, location, and conversations (the Family room is there to start you off). I can see this as being useful with my husband, but not so much with others at the moment. You can also do so limited sharing with non-WP8 devices. Belfiore’s example was to include his sister-in-law (iPhone) in the Family Room, and showed how she can share the calendar. That could be useful.
Joe Belfiore’s last points were about WP8/W8/Xbox integration, the Lenses in the camera interface, and Xbox Music. Nothing new or exciting to me.
Ballmer came out next. He started out with “We didn’t want to build just a single phone for all of us.” Hmm. I wonder who he was just bitch-slapping there. He also stressed the ecosystem, saying that if you’re going to be using Windows 8 in the next year, there’s “no better phone” for you. I’ve been saying for some time, we’re into ecosystem wars. If they can hook you early, they can reel you in.
Then he pulled out the hardware. The Nokia 920 (“Nokia is exclusively focused” in WP; mentioned the display, the camera, and wireless charging), the Samsung ATIV S (“flat-out gorgeous”, huge screen, thin and light), and the HTC 8X (“a remarkable phone”, HTC took design ideas from the Metro, er, Modern design, Beats audio, built-in amp, wide-angle front camera). But there was nothing new here. Europe gets ALL phones this weekend, you lucky dogs. In the US, the phones are coming to AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. If you’re on Sprint, you’re out of luck. Verizon will get the HTC 8X and the Lumia 822 by Thanksgiving. @WindowsPhone tweeted afterwards that the 822 will be $99.99 (probably contract price). In December, they will exclusively get the ATIV Odyssey. T-Mobile will get the Lumia 810 and the HTC 8X by November 11. AT&T will exclusively have the Lumia 920, and will also have the Lumia 820 and 8X in November.
Microsoft Stores will have EVERY phone available in the US, and you can get all colors online. The stores will also be there to show how the Xbox, WP, and W8 PCs will mesh together. Ballmer stated that “between Windows 8, Surface, and Windows Phone 8 you won’t be able to turn on a TV or open a magazine without seeing an Microsoft ad.” I certainly HOPE so, but I’ll believe it when I see it. Except for the Xbox, Microsoft and the OEMs and the mobile carriers have done a CRAPTASTIC job of advertising. Microsoft, hardware partners, carriers, OEMs are “all in.” Uh-huh. Again, I’m not holding my breath, but I am crossing my fingers.
All three (Belfiore, Alba, and Ballmer) were on stage for the close of the sale, with Ballmer saying that Windows Phone 8 is “a genuine reflection of who were are. As parents, as professionals, and as people.” Back to the personal sale.
And there it is. My thoughts on the Windows Phone 8 lauch event today in San Francisco.