Earlier this year, Microsoft® announced Windows® Phone 7 (initially called Windows Phone 7 Series), which will become its next offering in the mobile operating system market. In conjunction with the announcement, Amadeus Consulting also announced that we are offering preliminary development of custom applications for Windows Phone 7 so that companies can have applications ready for the launch of the first Windows Phone 7 phones, set to debut later this year.
Since that initial announcement we have seen a lot of interest in custom development for Windows Phone 7 apps, and have had many companies interested in building on the hype that will accompany the initial launch of the first Windows Phone devices.
To help companies interested in a mobile application for future Windows Phone 7 devices, but who are unsure where to start, we have compiled some of the major features of Windows Phone 7, and why they matter. Specifically, this article covers:
- What makes Windows Phone 7 unique as an operating system
- Why Windows Phone 7 appeals to business users
- Silverlight, XNA and other interactive technologies in Windows Phone 7
- What to expect from the hardware (the actual phones)
- Some insights into the Windows Phone 7 App market
- Finding a developer to make the app for you
Also, for those interested in having an application ready on launch day of some of the most anticipated phones yet, there is still time to order a fully custom Windows Phone 7 app for your corporation, business, startup or entrepreneurial venture. Contact us today and let’s get things started before time runs out.
Moving Past Windows Mobile
Windows Phone 7 picks up where Windows Mobile 6.5 left off, but it makes a huge leap forward making the platform very competitive with Apple’s® iOS 4 (Formerly iPhone® OS), and Google’s™ Android™ OS, in terms of features and capability.
In fact, even describing Windows Phone 7 as a “huge leap forward” from Windows Mobile is an understatement. Microsoft has taken a ground-up approach to redesigning its mobile operating system and has improved every aspect of the operating system in a remarkably positive way. They clearly have put a lot of thought, effort and testing into designing a product that is easy and intuitive to use, without skimping on power and capability.
The user interface on Windows Phone 7 is also distinct from Apple’s iOS 4 and Google Android™, which gets rid of the traditional icon view and replaces it with larger blocks and “hubs” that many users say they prefer because of its simplicity and ease of navigation.
Before we jump into some of the specific details, some quick benefits of Windows Phone 7 include:
- Complete Microsoft Office® Integration, including Outlook®, Excel®, Word®, Powerpoint®, Calendar, and more
- Massive Industry Support, including hardware commitments from Dell, Garmin-Asus, HTC, HP, LG, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, and Toshiba, and commitments from carriers such as AT&T, Deutsche Telekom AG, Orange, SFR, Sprint, Telecom Italia, Telefónica, Telstra, T-Mobile USA, Verizon Wireless and Vodafone
- Support for Silverlight® and XNA® for high quality game development, as well as quick portability of applications across platforms.
- Support for 3rd party advertisers and ad integration into applications, including ads in Silverlight®
- Emphasis on business productivity, gaming, and community building. A perfect environment for app developers
Unprecedented Business Integration
Windows Phone 7 focuses on is business users. According to Microsoft, 90% of the target customers for Windows Phone use their Smartphone for business purposes, and 61% use their phones equally or slightly more for business than personal use.
As a result, Windows Phone 7 combines familiar tools such as PowerPoint®, OneNote®, Word®, Excel® and SharePoint® into a single integrated experience via the Office® hub. It also integrates rich email, calendar, and contacts, as well as allows businesses to utilize existing IT investments like Exchange and Exchange ActiveSync® to support Windows Phone access to enterprise assets such as corporate email.
In addition to deep integration of Microsoft Office, Windows Phone 7 provides advanced security options, including support for secure data transmission through 128 or 256 bit SSL encryption.
Gaming and Interactivity
Although it appears that the phones will be marketed primarily towards business customers, game developers for Windows Phone 7 will also have a huge advantage with the platforms support of XNA, which is the development system used for gaming on the Zune HD® and Xbox 360®.
Another big feature of the Windows Phone 7 is its full compatibility with Silverlight. Silverlight provides interactive capabilities similar to Adobe® Flash®, and can be run across a multitude of devices and platforms. Microsoft boasts that Silverlight developers will have an incredibly easy time porting their existing applications to the new platform, although there will be some tweaking necessary to comply with the look and feel of the phone UI.
Microsoft has also expressed its intention to provide Silverlight support on the Xbox 360 and Zune HD, which means that developers will eventually be able to bring the same app to the Web, PC, Personal Music Player (PMP), Console and phone with relatively little pain.
Microsoft has also been flexing its muscle to create minimum standards for the new Windows Phone 7 Phones, which are being manufactured independently. These standards are intended to ensure that applications are as compatible as possible across platforms, rather than requiring different versions of applications for each platform, or limiting features on applications in order to increase compatibility on different devices. These minimum standards include:
- At first, only large 800 x 480 (WVGA) touchscreens will be permitted, which means that applications should have little trouble with being visually compatible across different phones – a problem with Android phones which often have different sized displays which creates UI problems.
- Five specific hardware buttons are required: Start, back, search (which integrates with Bing services where appropriate), camera button, and power. Some devices might have more, but these are the baseline.
- Capacitive multitouch with support for a minimum of four contact points, though no more than two are used by any of the platform’s six native gestures (developers are welcome to use as many as they like).
- A Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU with DirectX 9 graphics support. Microsoft says the platform is flexible enough to expand to other chips in the future, but right now it’s all Qualcomm.
- 256MB of RAM or more
- 8GB of internal Flash storage or more
- FM radio!
- 5 megapixel camera or better with a flash
Microsoft has not yet announced a specific release date for Windows Phone 7 phones, however it is rumored that LG may have phones ready as early as September, with other developers ready by October or November of this year. In addition to LG, many other developers have been confirmed to be working on Windows phones, including Dell, Garmin-Asus, HTC, HP, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, and Toshiba. Motorola, which has developed many other mobile and portable devices for Windows Mobile, and Windows Embedded systems, has not yet confirmed that it is developing Windows Phone 7 devices, even though many rumors and reports indicate otherwise.
As both a positive and negative, development for Windows Phone 7 is substantially different than development was for Windows Mobile.
Windows Phone 7 uses technologies, such as XNA and Silverlight, which are less familiar to most do-it-yourself app developers. This means that there will likely be a smaller number of applications for Windows Phone 7, than for Android™ and iPhone®, but the applications that are available will tend to be much higher quality, since they will be done primarily by experienced developers.
App development also benefits from unique cross-platform integration. This means that with very little additional investment, a mobile application could be transformed into a web app, a program on a PC, an app on the Zune HD (essentially the equivalent of the iPod Touch), and eventually an app on the Xbox 360.
This means that with almost the same investment, an app can potentially return 5x the value as an app on other platforms, which are much more device-limited. Of course, this will be substantially affected by the actual adoption rate of Windows Phone 7 phones, but it nevertheless benefits from the massive player base of Xbox users, being compatible with PCs and the fact that it is usable as a rich Internet application.
As a note on the overall mobile market, Windows Mobile still maintains 19% of the smart phone user base, as of Q1 2010, according to The Nielsen Company. This compares to Android’s 9% share, and Apple iPhone’s 28% share. Although at the time, RIM Blackberry still held the largest share with 35% of the total smart phone market. It will be interesting to see how these numbers change by next year, once the iPhone, Android and Windows Phone 7 operating systems are all in full competition together, added in with new editions of Blackberry and whatever HP and Palm end up throwing into the pile as well.
In either case, this is a unique time for marketers and developers to build and launch applications in conjunction with the initial unveiling of one of the biggest operating systems in the mobile smart phone market.
Also of note is that every major US carrier has made commitments to carry Windows Phone 7 phones. This is a major boon to app developers, since the potential user base for the apps will not be limited by the “population” of an individual carrier. This is different from the iPhone, for example, which is limited to only AT&T’s subscribers.
Amadeus Consulting – an Optimal Choice for Custom App Development
Amadeus Consulting is a custom software development company. This means that people hire us to create software and technology solutions that fit their needs, vision and budget. In the past few years we have developed dozens of mobile applications for all types of clients, from movie production companies to banks, restaurants and independent entrepreneurs.
Amadeus Consulting started in 1994, specializing in commercial websites, and quickly expanded into rich Internet applications, database solutions, and many different areas of software technology. In fact, in 1997 we started developing custom mobile applications for the very first version of Windows CE, and in 2000 we developed the first paid online game for Microsoft Game Zone.
In the time since, we have grown and expanded into a full service custom software company, fully capable and gold certified in Microsoft Technologies. We’ve also earned ourselves a collection of awards, certifications and recognitions, and regularly work with some of the world’s largest and smallest businesses.
In other words, we have the experience, efficiency, and capacity to create complex mobile applications that can help you reach your business objectives. This may include integrating your application into current business systems, providing location-based solutions, or connecting directly with your customers. Our services even extend to helping market and provide visibility for your application so it does not get lost in the app store. We also encourage you to visit our site and view our client success stories page to see how we have helped others create custom mobile applications for businesses on the iPhone, iPad and Android platforms.
We are always open to new clients and would love to help your business get the jump on Windows Phone 7, so that you can be there on the launch day of one of the most anticipated phones yet. Contact our business development team and start your Windows Phone 7 development today.