The eagerly awaited Windows Phone 8 has finally arrived. Although Windows Phone doesn’t command as much attention as its Apple and Google counterparts do, it still has a steadily growing customer base. Windows Phone 7.5 had been applauded for its superb performance and brilliant user interface, but it was also chided for the lack of interest shown by 3rd party app developers. It can’t be said that Window phone 8 will change all that, but what can be said is that it is a good improvement over the previous version.
Windows 8 presents the same silky smooth navigation as before, and now with support for HD resolution it looks even more gorgeous. The Metro design interface is a refreshing change if you use iOS or Android and are looking for something new. The UI has remained largely unchanged, except for a few tweaks here and there. The keyboard has been improved to incorporate the ‘Word Flow’ feature, which can predict full sentences as you type. The downside being, Microsoft removed support for third party keyboards from the OS.
Working on Office for Windows Phone 8 is a pleasant experience, now that Microsoft has seamlessly integrated its cloud, desktop and mobile Office apps. The SkyDrive and OneNote apps are available as well and work well in coordination with the other Office apps, especially if you are great fan of the Microsoft ecosystem. SkyDrive is also integrated with the OS itself, so all your photos get seamlessly uploaded to SkyDrive automatically. After Google, Microsoft also has forayed into mobile payments, and has included a Wallet app in Windows Phone 8. The Wallet app manages payments within Microsoft’s app store as well as NFC payments pretty much like Google Wallet.
Maps in Windows mobile have always been well received, thanks to Nokia Maps which are vastly better than Bing maps. Although Google Maps still is way better than the maps app in Windows Phone, the offline feature is something unique. Nokia offers downloadable worldwide maps, which can be accessed without using up any data. This is particularly helpful while on roaming, in a different country.
Windows Phone 8 features the much touted Internet Explorer 10, which almost lives up to the hype. The browser is powerful and pretty fast, but can only open 6 tabs at a time, which is a weird limitation. Also most websites so far don’t recognize it as a fully capable mobile browser, and end up serving it old and outdated mobile webpages, although this is expected to change gradually over time. The camera has received quite a few radical improvements as well.
Overall, Windows Phone 8 is a step in the right direction for Microsoft. If you somehow don’t care about the lack of 3rd party apps for Windows Phone platform, this new mobile OS might please you quite a bit.