One of the more exciting aspects of Windows Phone 8.1 is the appearance of Cortana, a Siri-like voice-based personal assistant. We spent time talking to Microsoft's Marcus Ash about Cortana, and we asked him about the possibility of Cortana making its way over to other smartphone platforms like iOS and Android. After all, the demo we were given was impressive. According to Marcus, at first it'll be a focus that is part of Windows Phone, and that's the number one priority with Cortana.
To extend Cortana across the entire smartphone ecosystem, that's the part that Microsoft is still mulling over and figuring out. The question is "How do we get Android or iOS users that also use Windows to have a great Cortana experience?" As a company, Microsoft is putting work into solving the question, and it isn't afraid to put its apps on competing platforms. After all, there's Office on Android and iOS, Bing, and others. For our money, it makes a lot more sense for Microsoft to release Cortana across multiple ecosystems rather than tying the service down as a Windows Phone exclusive. It's not the kind of feature that sells phones (similarly, we don't think that Siri on its own sells iPhones, either.) As a cloud-powered service, is Cortana a Windows play or a service play? Time will tell.
Chris Weber is the CVP of Mobile Devices Sales at Microsoft, re-joining the company through it's purchase of Nokia, where he was in charge of global sales. He knows his way around every Lumia device, and is now aiming to make sure that Windows Phone first-party hardware is an even player at the devices table. We were able to sit down with Chris to talk about Nokia, Lumia, Windows Phone, and what changes need to be made in order to realize the success he is seeking. Check out the full interview below:
When is Windows Phone 8.1 coming out?
The answer varies by device and operator. The Lumia 630 and 635 are the first 8.1 products, launched internationally. We’re also working with our current products, and any Windows 8 phone is upgradeable to 8.1. There is currently a developer preview, but the operator version requires further testing. 8.1 is a completely different experience. Things like the background wallpaper, increased customization, and especially Cortana, which is one of the best features.
There are key differences between Cortana and similar services on other devices. It proactively learns. The other day I was flying to Moscow. The week before, it asked if it wanted me to track my flight to Moscow. There is a link that says "Do you want to know how I knew that?" Cortana looked at my calendar and started looking up flight numbers. It also has geo-fencing. You can say "Remind me that Ignacio owes me $100." I can say remind me when I send an email, when I arrive home, etc. Or "Remind me to pick up my dry cleaning" and when you get in the area, the message pops up. "Remind me to pick up milk at the grocery store” and you get the choice of having it remind you when you are near any grocery store, not just one specific one.
Back to being on the plane, I said "Remind me to download the music for guitar when I get home." It's really, really good. Flow writing, which is similar to Swype, means I can do emails faster on my phone than on the keyboard now. I got a new phone and it wasn't running 8.1 and the hunt and peck was tough!
Microsoft has an ambitious new idea to set themselves apart from Android and iOS. They want to install their video game motion sensor technology in an upcoming Windows Phone. Tom Warren of The Verge says that Microsoft insiders have slipped him some elusive information on the new phone.
The goal is to eliminate as many buttons and screen swipes as possible from the new phone. It should be able to answer a call simply by holding it up to your ear and end a call when it is dropped into a pocket. Place it on the table to put it on speaker, wave a hand in front of the screen to dismiss alerts, and push buttons without touching the phone, these are the feats that Warren says the phone will be capable of.
The 3D features, as they are being called, are not unique to Microsoft. Amazon is purportedly going to reveal a similar device June 18th. Eliminating screen smudges is cool, but I am not certain if I would be willing to buy a whole new phone to do it though. Given that the Kinect didn't sell consoles on its own merit, I am skeptical if it will do so in the even more competitive smartphone market.
Still, if the 3D sensor allows me a full size keyboard without taking up any real space, it might just be worth a glance.
We open up the Nokia Lumia 1520 Windows Phone in this episode. The Lumia 1520 sports a large 6-inch ClearBlack display and is an AT&T exclusive. Here are the specs:
- 2.2 GHz Quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor
- 6-inch ClearBlack LCD display (1920 x 1080)
- 20-megapixel PureView rear camera
- Dual LED flash
- Wireless charging
You can pick up the Nokia Lumia 1520 for $99 on AT&T now.
We're not leaving Windows Phone out in the cold this year, what with the addition of the Nokia Lumia 1520 to our 2013 Holiday Gift Guide. View more of everything you love on the big 6-inch HD 1080p display, featuring a super-sensitive touchscreen so you can type with your fingernails or while wearing gloves. Built-in Microsoft Office means you can view and edit your docs on the go. Plus download your favorite apps from the Windows store. Features a powerful 3,400 mAh battery that ensures your work and play time lasts longer.
You can pick up the Philips Hue Connected Bulb Starter Pack now from Amazon for $49.99.
Read More | Nokia Lumia 1520
Nokia has just slashed the price of the Lumia 1020 by $100, bringing the price of the Windows Phone with the crazy camera down to $199. We've been reviewing the Lumia 1020, and the camera app features are definitely impressive. If Windows Phone is your jam, you may want to consider it. For a limited time, the Microsoft Store will even throw in the $79 Lumia 1020 Camera Grip for free with purchase!
Read More | The Microsoft Store
The Nokia Lumia 1020 boasts a ridiculously large 41-megapixel PureView camera as the standout feature. It's "the largest back side illuminated sensor available on a smartphone." A smartphone needs more than just a great camera though, and Nokia has outfitted the Lumia 1020 with a 4.5-inch 1280 x 768 AMOLED PureMotion HD+ display covered by Gorilla Glass 3, and it sports "super sensitive touch" which allows you to use the phone even while wearing gloves.
The Lumia 1020 includes a wrist strap that you can optionally attach to it, and Nokia will also be selling a Camera Grip that makes the device easier to use as a camera. We're finalizing our Lumia 1020 review, but in the meantime, we've put together our Nokia Lumia 1020 unboxing gallery for you to get up-close and personal with the Windows Phone through pictures.
Gallery: Nokia Lumia 1020 unboxing gallery
We gave you the rundown on the Nokia Lumia 1020 a few days ago, and for those of you who took a look at the 41-megapixel-camera-toting smartphone and just had to have one, you'll be pleased to know that pre-order for the 1020 are now live. The device costs $299 with two-year contract, and will be released on July 23rd.
Nokia, Microsoft, and AT&T have finally officially lifted the veil off of the Nokia Lumia 1020 Windows Phone. The standout feature of this smartphone is its 41 megapixel PureView camera, which is being called "the largest back side illuminated sensor available on a smartphone." Of course, a fantastic camera a great smartphone does not make, and the Lumia 1020 does sports a few other impressive touches. The display is a 4.5-inch 1280 x 768 AMOLED PureMotion HD+ panel covered by Gorilla Glass 3, and it sports "super sensitive touch" which allows you to use the phone even while wearing gloves.
The Lumia 1020 includes a wrist strap that you can optionally attach to it, and Nokia will also be selling a Camera Grip that makes the device easier to use as a camera. You can get one exclusively from AT&T on July 26th for $299 with two-year contract. If you wanna be sure you'll have one on day one, be sure to get your pre-order in on July 16th. We'll be getting our hands on the Nokia Lumia 1020 shortly, and we'll give you the full rundown on what's likely to be an amazing camera, along with our full review.
We've been keeping tabs on the Nokia Lumia 928 for a while, but it has never been confirmed in any official capacity until today. The Lumia 928 quietly made an appearance in a two-page advertisment spread in Vanity Fair, as well as on a simple page on the Nokia Web site. It appears that the 928 is focusing on the camera:
Nokia exclusive PureView technology, with Optical Image Stabilization and high-end Carl Zeiss optics let you capture and share amazing blur-free photos and videos, even in low light conditions.
As expected, Verizon Wireless will be the carrier for the Lumia 928. Expect a nice, official unveiling to take place a week from today, on May 14th. We aren't expecting the internals to be too different from the Nokia Lumia 920.