Windows phone

With all of the new product announcements expected at the upcoming Mobile World Congress (MWC), it is almost hard to believe that Microsoft is not expected to announce or release very little, if anything. Perhaps this is to be expected – growing pains if you will – as the new CEO, Satya Nadella, takes over.However, it seems to be a missed opportunity. According to Re/code’s Ina Fried, “Fixing Microsoft’s weak mobile business will be Satya Nadella’s top job.”1

As upwards of dozens of new Android devices will be announced at MWC, it is hard to believe that Microsoft will be mum. In-fact, the whole of the Microsoft presence – at least officially – in Barcelona is expected to consist of vague, forward looking statements. Again, according to Ina Fried:

Microsoft has a media event planned for Sunday, but it isn’t expected to go into detail on the next version of Windows Phone and is likely to talk only in broad strokes about the future of its phone effort.2

Lumia IconHowever, Microsoft has not been completely silent on the mobile front.  The newest Windows Phone,  the Nokia Lumia Icon (left), will be available beginning today, February 20th. The device is exclusive to Verizon Wireless. While this looks to be quite a device, it seems that Microsoft is saving its next huge announcement for its own developers conference, Build 2014.

At Build 2014, Microsoft is expected to announce a major update to its phone OS. Windows 8.1 will be a major, major update of the Windows Phone OS. And, it appears that Microsoft has been listening to its users, adding many long-desired features. According to Windows Phone Dailythe major list of new features, as it currently stands- subject to change – will include:

  • Normal updates and “Important” updates
  • Options to always download emails and pictures within them
  • Encrypted and signed e-mail support
  • Geofence monitoring support
  • Office Lens
  • The phone will have to update to the latest version before you can restore it to factory settings
  • Password protected Office document support
  • Trusted app list for NFC that will remove the need for asking whether you want to open a particular app.
  • In-call speech commands. You’ll be able to say “Call XXXXXX”.
  • Double-Tap to unlock your phone or power off
  • Quiet Hours
  • Screenshot button combination is now Power + Volume Up
  • Apps on SD Cards are only allowed from ONE originating phone. If it detects that apps from another phone are installed on the SD Card, then it will ask to delete those first
  • The Search button will be the new way to open Speech instead of the Start button
  • New Email sync options with accordance to usage patterns (i.e. syncs automatically based on how often you typically check your email)
  • Wallet supports tickets and membership cards
  • App Syncing
  • Wallet supports tickets and membership cards
  • Screen Recording functionality
  • Inner Circle of contacts. Up to 40 contacts can be in the inner circle.
  • You can favorite photos by tapping a heart icon3

While MWC looks to be uneventful for Microsoft, it appears that the company has grand designs on 2014. If you are interested, here is a long video look at all of the new features in Windows Phone 8.1.

  1. Ina Fried, Re/code, “Job No. 1 for New Microsoft CEO: Fix Mobile and Windows Business,” 4 Feb. 2014  
  2. Ina Fried, Re/code, “No New Windows Phone Models on Tap for Barcelona,” 18 Feb. 2014  
  3. Saad Hashmi, Windows Phone Daily, “New Windows Phone 8.1 leaks: Start screen backgrounds, IE11 tab sync, Office Lens and more,” 16 February 2014