updated 03:30 pm EST, Thu February 2, 2012
Windows Phone 8 spoiled in leaked video
An escaped internal video for Nokia staff intercepted on Thursday has shown that Windows Phone 8 should be a massive leap, most of all in hardware. The PocketNow view of the clip, which was hosted by senior Windows Phone VP Joe Belfiore, revealed that the update nicknamed Apollo will add multi-core processor support and catch up to Android and iOS. It should also address a longstanding gripe about the lack of easily removable microSD card storage and bring in four new screen resolutions, greatly improving the diversity of phones
Plans for NFC in Windows Phone would be more ambitious than some. It would support tap-to-share features similar to Android Beam but would reportedly let this work with desktops, notebooks, and tablets along with other phones. Mobile payments would work, but they would have the unique option of being badged by the carrier and working either with something built into the phone, as on Android devices like the Galaxy Nexus, or else built into the SIM card on GSM and LTE networks.
Some level of unification with Windows 8 was real, Belfiore said. Many of the components would be the same, letting a developer write a Metro-based Windows 8 app and reuse "by far" the majority of the code in the Windows Phone version. Microsoft would also break Windows Phone from its dependence on the Zune app on Windows PCs and tie it to a companion syncing app. Xbox Companion should get a parallel in Windows 8 to control the game console, he said.
Apollo should support truly native apps for more performance-intensive releases and should let apps talk to each other rather than just to the OS. More camera control would go to developers, who could use basic access to the camera and layer their own work on top of it. The first fruits of the Skype acquisition would come with an app that would treat Internet calls much like their conventional counterparts.
DataSmart would be a direct parallel to Android 4.0's Data Usage tracker and let users track and manage their data use. Local Scout would even start looking for Wi-Fi hotspots, not just restaurants and other points of interest. Accordingly, Internet Explorer 10 would start using an Opera-style proxy server that would compress pages to reduce their size and save data.
The advances would go some distance towards eliminating the most common complaints about Windows Phone in its current incarnation. Microsoft's conservative choices of hardware guidelines has left many of the phones with single-core processors and a 480x800 display, even on very large devices. Windows Phone 8/Apollo would allow Microsoft to jump to dual- or quad-core processors as well as serve both higher- and lower-end devices that it has previously had to exclude.
Apollo is informally expected in late 2012 and may be preceded by a minor update in spring, Tango.