Microsoft's Mobile World Congress 2011 Keynote Speech revealed several important features that will soon be coming to the Windows Phone. Although WP7 can presently multitask with Microsoft's first-party applications, concerns over the preservation of battery life has meant that the phone can not currently multitask with third-party apps. Earlier in the speech, Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer confirmed that the ability to multitask with third-party apps will be added this year.
There will also be a "version of Internet Explorer 9, complete with hardware and graphics, and other hardware acceleration" coming to WP7. Facebook is already integrated into the Hubs on the phone's interface, but now Twitter will be "fully integrated into the hubs experience on the Windows Phone" too. The final feature will be of more interest to business users, but I will briefly mention it. SkyDrive is a PC application that allows users to access and share selected MS Office documents and notes via cloud storage. This application will also be integrated onto WP7. All of these features will be arriving via free updates during 2011.
The most interesting reveal came when Corporate Vice President Joe Belfiore explained that Windows Phone 7 can integrate with Kinect to provide a "different gaming experience". The technology demo used "real code" (i.e. it wasn't just a video mock-up) to demonstrate a gamer standing in the Rally Ball arena from Kinect Adventures
, whilst another gamer used a Windows Phone to control the rate and direction of the balls heading towards him. Watch the demo to see the game descend into chaos:
There has not been a timeframe announced for the implementation of this feature. However, it has already been revealed that the WP7 and XBLA versions of Full House Poker
will be able to integrate with each other. An Xbox Live representative confirmed to Joystiq
that players will be able to transfer their experience points and earnings from console to mobile and vice versa. However, there doesn't appear to be any plans for cross-platform multiplayer support. There will also be different achievement lists for each version. Full House Poker
releases on both platforms on March 16th, 2011.
Finally, it was announced a few days ago that Microsoft and Nokia will be joining forces to produce Windows Phone options across a larger variety of price points, and extend the phone's availability worldwide. Now, Windows Phone will become the principal smart phone option for Nokia phones; as a result, Nokia's current content and application store will be integrated into the Microsoft marketplace. Additionally, Bing and Microsoft adCenter will be integrated with Nokia Maps to produce a more comprehensive search experience.
The future of the Windows Phone is looking very bright indeed. Hopefully we will start to see more integration between the Xbox and WP7, as I'm sure that Full House Poker
will only be the start of this.