Big day of announcements
What a great time to be a Windows Phone 7 developer! Hot off the heals of the recent Nokia partnership we announced some of the free updates that will be coming to Windows Phone 7 this year. Several new features were demoed at the Mobile World Congress expo today in Barcelona, Spain. They include some long awaited features as well as some unexpected surprises.
First update only weeks away
The first free customer update will be made available for all Windows Phone 7 devices by the second week of March. This is the long awaited update that includes copy & paste and faster application performance. This update will also include support for CDMA networks. That means U.S. mobile operators such as Verizon and Sprint will be releasing Windows Phone 7 devices right on schedule for the first half of 2011.
The Developer Tools for this new update are already available and launched on February 4th. Most applications should run just fine under the new update (my own DoodlePad app didn’t require any changes) and any apps using normal textbox controls will automatically take advantage of copy and paste.
As pointed out on the Windows Phone 7 Secrets Blog copy and paste will also allow you to paste the text multiple times.
People and Office Hub getting new Features
I am very happy to report that Twitter will be integrated into the People Hub in the second half of 2011. This is great news if you are a fan of the current hub for all your Facebook updates and have been waiting for tweets to be included. It was also announced that documents inside the Office Hub will be directly integrated with Windows Live SkyDrive. Expect these updates to hit in the second half of 2011.
Don’t forget you can already do something similar today with OneNote by turning on Cloud Sync with your phone via the Zune Software. Above is the screen I get off Windows Live for my own Samsung Focus.
Internet Explorer 9
We all know that the current browser in Windows Phone 7 is based off of Internet Explorer 7. It is, like the rest of the mobile platforms out there, a mobile browser. This means it comes across in the header as a mobile device to website owners. Developers have to code custom screens for those mobile devices. What if we could change all that? What if an HTML5 developer could target just open web standards for their pages. What if those same pages ran hardware accelerated across both phone and desktop without changing any code? Enter Internet Explorer 9!
This is full Internet Explorer 9 running on the phone that is running on the desktop and the results speak for themselves. I captured the above screenshot during the iPhone4 Safari vs. WP7 IE9 mobile browser html5 showdown. The Windows Phone 7 device was able to run 50 fish without any stuttering thanks to IE9 and the included phone hardware acceleration. The best news of all is this will be a free update hitting devices in the second half of this year!
Later this year users of Windows Phone 7 will have the ability to switch quickly between applications or run applications in the background (such as listening to music). While the current build shown is not UI complete we were able to see how it will function. To switch back and forth between apps you hold down the Back Button. This presents a list of live thumbnails for your currently running apps.
I took the above screenshots during the keynote demo and you can see both Fruit Ninja and Rise of Glory running at the same time as E-Mail. Both of these titles are currently available X-Box Live games on Windows Phone 7 and they appear to be multi-tasking just by running on the new build. By simply holding down the back button after writing the e-mail, swiping over to Rise of Glory and tapping on its thumbnail the game got focused again. Rather than showing the standard “Resuming…” screen like we are used to in the current builds today. I am looking forward to this and imagine we will be getting a lot more details at MIX11!
Kinect and Windows Phone 7?
With over 8 million Kinect devices sold in just 60 days Xbox Kinect has quickly become one of the fastest selling consumer devices of all time. If you haven’t seen one yet go to your local Best Buy and check it out. That’s what got me hooked seeing how quickly my two little daughters took to it. Several sore muscles later, thanks to Kinect Sports, my wife and I can vouch for it as well. It truly is something revolutionary.
So it was a great pleasure to see the X-Box team looking at ways of integrating Windows Phone 7 with Kinect and taking it to the next step.
A video was shown of the Kinect Adventures Rally Ball game (included free with the X-Box Kinect bundles). The primary player was moving their body around to reflect the balls across the court and two people were controlling how those balls interacted on screen via their phones. This included both the number of balls as well as their direction and speed.
Pretty amazing stuff and I am looking forward to the coming year to see what other games start to integrate the two devices together. Since we have X-Box Live already on our Windows Phone 7 devices how cool would it be to unlock achievements for both the person using the phone (right on the phone) as well as the person logged into Kinect!