Following the recent event held by Microsoft, we have gained an insight into the future of Microsoft smartphones and how they will function.
Firstly most of you will probably notice the “Phone” part is gone from the branding of the platform available on smartphones. The reason for this is that Microsoft has worked towards providing a universal experience whichever device type you are using.
With Windows 10 they are finally realizing this combining of products by consumers to do similar tasks, so instead of offering different experiences depending on the device you are using, there will instead by just one universal way of interacting.
This means that you will have exactly the same experience whether you are using a smart phone, tablet or desktop computer, allowing for easier movement between each device to carry on working.
The demonstrations by Microsoft did show Windows 10 is still very much still in development and there is still a lot to work on before release. We were however able to see lots of improvements to the smart phone experience. These include the following highlights:
- Ability to have your own personal background on the Start screen with translucent tiles
- Recent installed apps are at the top of the list, making them easier to find
- The messaging system is receiving an overhaul, with Skype being added making it easier to communicate by video, messaging and calls
- It is possible to reply to messages with voice response, which has a level of sophistication good enough to recognize contacts and correctly format them.
- Action Centre has receiving enhancements to synchronize with your desktop computer
- Settings menu is now the same across all devices
- It is possible to resize the keyboard and move it around the display
Project Spartan is the current name for improvements to the web browsing experience across all devices. This according to Microsoft will change the way you interact with the web and are able to use the browser on mobile. Firstly there is an option which makes reading web pages easier and more enjoyable, removing the clutter and distractions which you normally have to deal with. Complimenting this is the reading list which is conveniently located and accessible from all of your devices.
It will be possible with touchscreen devices to naturally make annotations on the webpages and share these with colleagues and friends. If you don’t have a touchscreen you can also use a keyboard to type, meaning no one is left out. There is also now integrated PDF support, so you can easily share information in a format that most people can view.
Finally is integration of Cortana (Microsoft’s digital assistant) into the web browser. Cortana can learn your interests and instantly advises you on matters like the weather or ingredients, as demonstrated by Joe Belfiore. Cortana will also be able to almost seem to expect problems you may meet, such as see if there are traffic jams, if you need to get to a meeting, or a birthday party, giving you the ability to leave earlier or plan routes.
Thanks to integration of the Windows 10 core systems we will benefit from universal apps which can synchronize your information and files between devices. These universal apps will ship with Windows 10 and give to enhanced capabilities which take advantage of the new platform.
The most prominent of these are the Office improvements on smartphones, which mean the experience is almost the same as on a desktop. You have full access to formatting options and the ribbon has even been implemented, meaning now you can view and edit complex documents on your smart phone, just the same way as on your desktop computer.
The Outlook and Calendar apps now have full synchronization, so if you delete an email on your smart phone or categorise it, this is almost instantly duplicated on your desktop or tablet.
This is also the case with the Music, Contact and Xbox apps, where having a desktop experience on your smartphone means you are more productive and have the ability to makes changes on one device which are duplicated on another. So set up a playlist on your phone and it is available on all your devices!
All photos you take, or have on your desktop computer can be automatically transferred to your OneDrive account (Microsoft’s cloud storage). This will make them available across all your devices. As indicated by Microsoft during this kind of system you are more likely to have duplications. The new photos app which will ship with Windows 10 will be able to remove these duplications and give you a convenient view of all your photos. Even better it is able to automatically enhance your photos, removing the need to manually do this yourself.
Windows 10 is still some way off yet, but the fact it will be a free update for all current Windows Phone 8.1 users should hopefully mean that its adoption will be universal when it arrives.
There are many significant improvements and Microsoft are creating an ecosystem which could appeal to many consumers, as the ability to quickly move between different devices which all have the same settings and abilities should tempt many. Over the coming months we will no doubt see more of the improvements and gain more indications of how Windows 10 will look and function.
For the moment the Microsoft event has give us an insight into what the future may hold for smartphones.