Ditching the ageing Windows Mobile OS and starting from scratch with a brand new operating system, Microsoft have unleashed Windows Phone 7 (WP7) upon the tech world. It’s a slick new addition to the smartphone scene, with neat animations and integrated social features throughout. Several manufacturers have already taken up the challenge and produced Windows 7 phones including HTC, Samsung and LG (you can win an LG Optimus 7 Windows smartphone by clicking here). Take a look at our ten point guide (or watch the video) below for everything you need to know.
Live Tiles – WP7’s Live Tiles are dynamic links to applications and features stored on Windows Phone 7 devices. Updated in real-time, Live Tiles can be set to offer info at a glance on specific contacts, social networks, email accounts or news feeds such as weather details or stocks. Like fancy shortcuts or widgets, they are fully customisable, to be arranged how you see fit across the phones homescreens, and are fully animated to boot.
People Hub – The People Hub is an area of the phone which collects all your contact details into one place. Whether it’s info relating to people from your phone book, email accounts or social networks, you’ll be able to communicate with any contact you have, wherever they may be, from the People Hub.
Pictures Hub – Like the People Hub, the Pictures Hub aggregates images from multiple sources, collecting them into one easily searched place. Whether it’s pictures from your Facebook photo albums or snaps you’ve taken yourself with your Windows Phone 7 handset camera, all images will be pooled together, ready to share at the push of a button.
Marketplace – There are tons of great free and paid-for apps available from the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace. Whether you’re looking for an RSS reader, shopping list maker or games such as the Star Wars: Batttle for Hoth strategy title, there is something for everyone on Marketplace.
Zune Media Player – WP7 owners get the award winning Zune Media Player interface for handling their media files. Wether you’re creating party playlists or settling down for a movie, it’s one of the best mobile media managers on the market.
Zune Marketplace – The Zune Marketplace gives you access to a huge catalogue of videos and music to rent and purchase. Perhaps the most enticing feature of all is the prospect of the Zune Pass; this monthly subscription service gives unlimited access to all content on the Zune Marketplace for £8.99 a month, and offers 10 permanent mp3 downloads per month that are yours to keep even if you unsubscribe.
Xbox Live – Gaming fans will be pleased to hear that WP7 devices can be synced up with your Xbox 360’s Live account, linking your phone to the online community. Gamertags, Gamerscores and achievements will carry over across both devices, meaning you’re always rewarded when gaming on the go.
Mobile Office – When you’re done playing, you can get some serious work done with WP7 too. Word, Excel and Powerpoint documents can all be edited on the go, with cloud sharing and back-up capable through Sharepoint. A very comfortable on-screen keyboard makes text entry a breeze too.
Search – With so much to do and store possible on smartphones these days, you’d better have a good way of searching the contents of your phone if you’re hoping to get at the stuff you need fast. With Bing web search, the voice-powered TellMe search app and a hardware search button on every WP7 device, you’ll find what you need in no time at all.
Hardware – To make sure users get the best Windows Phone 7 experience possible, Microsoft have laid down strict hardware guidelines to handset manufacturers. Minimum requirements include a capacitive multi-touch screen, a 5MP camera and at least a 1GHz ARM v7 Cortex/Scorpion processor. This means you’ll never have a shoddy bit of kit in your hand if it’s marked with the WP7 seal of approval.
And what the makers added… – Each Windows 7 device has these basic specifications, what the manufacturer add is then up to them. So for example the Samsung’s Windows & phones are noted for AMOLED display, while HTC are offering various phones at various price points.
The LG Optimus 7 has a host of additional features including Augmented Reality system ScanSeach that automatically detects any amenities up to a five-mile radius. The results including: restaurants, bars, hotels, public transit and banks, appear as icons, which you can then tap to reveal that specific amenities phone number and exact location.
There’s also the panorama app for the handset’s camera which makes it easy to take snapshots of wide landscapes by lining up five images in a row, and automatically firing off the shutter when each image is aligned.
According to LG all its Windows 7 devices are good for practical use and will be supported by excellent battery life (the Optimus 7 has the best battery life of any Windows 7 phone) and LG exclusive apps. Some handsets will also support qwerty keypads.
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