In case you haven’t heard, Windows Mobile has been rebranded. The term “Windows Phone” is now the name for all devices formerly called “Windows Mobile.” Along with the new name, the phone is about to receive a whole new look, too. At a recent Microsoft event, there was a demo given that showed off the new features of the Windows Phone’s upcoming OS update, aka Windows Mobile 6.5.
With the redesign, access to missed calls, text messages, and the like are available from the phone’s lockscreen. With just a tap, you can see the calls or texts you missed without having to first unlock your phone and launch the appropriate application.
You’ll also notice the phone’s new UI looks a lot like that of the Zune mp3 players with links to music, the phone, voicemail, text, email, your calendar, favorites, and more.
Included wizards make the process of setting up email, Bluetooth, and other options easy, especially for first-time users who have migrated to the Windows Phone from a feature phone.
Tapping on the “Start Menu” button no longer takes to you a folder view but instead delvers you to the brand-new homescreen interface where 24-bit icons appear linking you to all the Windows Phone applications. You scroll through the list up-and-down instead of side-to-side, so the list actually appears as one continuous page as opposed to “pages” you have to flip through.
One of the new application icons is “Marketplace,” an Windows Phone App Store where you can download both free and paid applications for the device. As with most smartphone app stores, the available downloads are arranged into categories for easy browsing. There will also be sections featuring showcase applications, the most popular applications, and the newest applications.
Another application icon on the homescreen will point to the new “MyPhone” service – a feature which synchronizes all the data on your phone to the cloud. The service doesn’t simply back up your contacts, either – it’s a place to store other phone data like text messages, photos, and music, too. For anyone who’s ever had a phone get lost or stolen, knowing that your data is safely backed up is a major blessing. And unlike some other sync services, MyPhone is included with the device for no extra charge. From the MyPhone site on the web, you’ll be able to manage your media and share files with friends on social networking sites. You can even upload photos to the website to have them synced back to the phone. If your phone is ever lost or stolen, you can use the MyPhone site to remotely lock and wipe your phone.
Also demonstrated was the updated version of IE which now loads websites in a “full desktop view” – in other words, just like you’d see on a PC. You can switch over to a mobile view, too, or zoom in and out of webpage content for a closer look. IE also includes full Flash support so you can view all the web.
Another default application pre-installed on the Windows Phone is Microsoft Tag, the barcode reading service announced at CES 2009. With this app, you use the phone’s camera to read specialized barcodes that link to mobile content like videos, music, product info, ringtones, and more.
To see the new Windows Phone in action, check out the video here.