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The race to produce the world’s best smartphone was and truly opened up with the release of the Windows Phone 7 OS in October last year. While there have been complaints from critics that the range of available apps is poor and that the first release of the new OS was lacking in basic multitasking capabilities, Windows really is stepping up to the plate and seems to be picking up quite a pace to catch up with and surpass the likes of Android and iOS.
At Mobile World Congress (MWC) held in February 2011, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced a major update to Windows Phone 7 due towards the end of this year. The update will see the inclusion of a mobile version of Internet Explorer 9 that supports the same web standards (e.g. HTML5) and hardware-accelerated graphics as its PC counterpart.
By all accounts, this is going to be pretty exciting stuff – demonstrating the new browser during a keynote speech by Mr Ballmer at the MWC, Microsoft’s corporate vice president, Joe Belfiore, used a fish tank video to show off the updated OS’s speed and graphical capabilities. Mr Belfiore also compared the smooth motion of the tank’s 50 fish with the same video on an unnamed HTC model (surely not the HTC 7 Pro?), demonstrating just how fast and flawless the movement was with IE9 compared with its Safari (iPhone) counterpart.
While Belfiore didn’t really emphasize the fact that this version of IE9 wouldn’t be due until towards the end of this year, and while it was also indicative of the strength of Windows Phone 7’s competitive edge, it’s also very likely that Safari will be subject to similar standard of improvement, given Apple’s track record.
Even more exciting news, according to gottabemobile.com, Windows Phone 7 will also, thanks to their alliance with Nokia, be the forerunner of the smartphone OS industry by 2013. Having conducted research into the growth of the various leading smartphone OS giants such as iOS, Android and Blackberry, Pyramid Research’s senior analyst, Stela Bokun, prophesised that WP 7 will beat previous predictions that it will be ahead of the game by 2015 in two years.
Bokun proffered the idea that while Android’s primary strength has always been its availability with the various members of its Open Handset Alliance, WP 7’s availability on a variety of hardware besides Nokia will see WP 7 enjoy similar success. Bokun explained: “While Android will continue to grow beyond 2013, its growth will slow down compared to the skyrocketing surge in 2010 and 2011. Even though WP will maintain the leadership from 2013 through 2015, the battle with Android will be fierce going forward and will result in many overtakings and ties between the two operating systems going forward – all at the expense of iOS and BlackBerry, which will experience a losing streak.
“While RIM and Apple are powerful players in the smartphone market, their desire to limit their mobile operating systems to their own hardware has antagonized large manufacturers, such as Samsung, LG and Nokia, who have the capacity to enjoy the benefits of economies of scale and whose devices account for an overwhelming portion of the smartphone market.”
Expected Features in Windows Phone 7:
With regards to specifics about the updates, Microsoft revealed earlier this month that Bing on WP 7 will be subject to a major overhaul. Bing Navigation will be updated to give people faster access to common searches like ‘movies’ and ‘traffic’, while also providing a handy satellite navigation service (turn-by-turn voice navigation).
Not only that, but the Windows Phone Dev Podcast – which featured Windows Phone 7 director Brandon Watson as a guest – announced that a new function called Bing Audio will be featured in the new updates. If you’re familiar with Shazam, you’ll know that it’s able to recognise music and tell you that artists, track and album. Bing Audio will do just that, whilst also being able to sell users the tracks through Zune.
Next, Bing Vision – it’ll use your smartphone’s camera to read barcodes and do optical character recognition, while it may also offer support for augmented reality apps. Updates may also include voice-to-text for SMS messages, allowing users to send texts without the need to type. All in all, Windows Phone 7 has an exciting future ahead of it – and we can’t wait to try out the new updates. Watch this space.
Image courtesy of Expansys