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Windows Phone 8 SDK Preview Opens Sept. 12; New WP8 Features ‘Lenses, Screen shots’ and More Unveiled

Windows Phone 8 'Lenses, Screenshots' features showed

Microsoft officially announced that Windows Phone 8 SDK Preview opens for applications September. 12.

The full Windows Phone 8 SDK will be made publically available later this year when Windows Phone 8 gets unveiled. Until then, “we believe this program offers more published developers a way to explore the SDK and get started on the next wave of amazing Windows Phone apps,” posted Todd Brix.

Finally, at the Nokia’s event, Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore on-stage demonstrated some new Windows Phone 8 camera APIs and a feature called “Lenses.”

“The lens button holds various lens applications that you can use while taking a photo or when viewing. Bing Vision is integrated to let you scan an item and have the phone instantly recognize it.”

The FX Suite lens, built by two MSFT summer interns, shows four different effects in various windows. Once the picture is taken, it’s automatically captioned with the appropriate “lens.” You can scroll straight into your camera roll from the viewfinder. He also showed off a Photosynth app, which lets you engage with a panorama shot.

The final lens Belfiore showed called “Blink,” is a Microsoft app that uses facial recognition to get the best possible image of a face. It takes multiple frames, and the system then scans the images and chooses the best one. Users can agree with the service, or choose their own, and save the image. Each image is saved to Blink, but only chosen photos head into the gallery.

Windows Phone 8 provides a more personal smartphone experience, with a start screen that can be more easily rearranged to reflect individual priorities and new animated Live Tiles for real-time updates on the things that matter most.

The first feature Belfiore showed was “customizable live tiles,” displaying how you can pin actual contacts to the home screen, seeing any communication between you both, along with their photos, updates, etc.

He explained that Windows Phone 7 apps are rescaled to display their live tile icons more clearly on the higher resolution screen of the new Lumia 920. He then resized the CNN app to double-wide size, which was originally reserved for Nokia, OEM, and carrier apps.

Yellow, red, and grey start screens have also been added to the operating system, to give you a little more “panache,” as Microsoft says.

Microsoft claims that the display has also been made 25 percent brighter, and a new technology called ultra sensitive touch has been added. The Lumia 920 will essentially let you touch the screen through gloves.

The ability to sync content between Windows Phone 8 smartphones, Windows 8-based PCs and tablets or Xbox means files, music, pictures and video can be accessed in whichever way is most convenient.

With Internet Explorer 10 for faster, safer browsing and Microsoft Office apps built into the platform, Windows Phone 8 is also the easiest way for getting things done. Belfiore showed off Pulse’s new HTML5 site running on the Lumia 920, explaining that the page is exactly the same across IE10 on desktop and mobile. He concluded the IE10 demo by pinning the HTML5 site to his start screen.

Belfiore then showed “screen shots,” a hold press on the lock screen and home button takes the screenshot. You can then find the picture by going into the gallery, and choosing the screen shot album. You can also share these screengrabs on your social networks.

He then explained the “camera app,” stating that “pinch to zoom” has been added in exchange for that zoom bar on the bottom.

Update 09/06: Added video demonstrating the new Windows Phone 8 feature “screenshots” using the Nokia Lumia 920:

Update 09/07:

At Tech Ed in New Zealand, Keith Patton, Windows Phone MVP confirmed a number of new features coming to Windows Phone 8 including:

Beta Program, which will run alongside future Windows Phone 8 releases for developers and those who wish to get the new bits earlier, and will allow those users to circumvent their carriers to get the latest version while it’s in testing.

Windows Phone 8 Beta Program

Windows Phone 8 Install from microSD card

Install applications from SD card. It was also confirmed that businesses can use this method to load their line of business applications onto employees phones.

Also, Patton confirmed that Windows Phone 7.8, will be including more than just the new Windows Phone 8 Start screen, and that it will indeed include new features.

Windows Phone 7.8 new start screen and more new features

Update 09/09:Here are some features that could make the way to WP8:

  • “Support custom Hubs” – Would appear to be the solution to “Folders” that many users have been asking for quite some time. (Planned)
  • “Allowing for custom color creation for live tiles and the os rather than only giving a few choices” (Planned)
  • “Include Photosynth to the Windows Phone” – Microsoft did a amazing great job with Photosynth that is available for iPhone. Now, a native PhotoSynth seems like an obvious inclusion, especially with the announced “Lenses” feature.

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