Windows Phone 8 introduces Live lock screen, Family Rooms, Kid’s Corner, and more

Windows Phone 8 introduces Live lock screen, Family Rooms, Kid's Corner, and more
new details for existing windows phone 8 devices coverage banner

At the Windows Phone 8 event, Microsoft officially launched its new smartphone operating system. Most of the features of this OS have already been announced and demoed, but the company had a few extra surprises for launch day. Microsoft expanded on the customizable Live Tiles, and introduced a lock screen powered by Live Apps. Among other new features, Microsoft also introduced Data Sense to keep users from exceeding data limits, Kid’s Corner to keep young people away from apps you don’t want them to use, and Rooms for the people you care about.

Let’s take a quick look at these new features.

Live Tiles

microsoft announces new windows phone 8 features live lock screen family rooms a space for kids and more olympus digital came

WP8’s Live Tiles are new to this version of the operating system. They allow users to see important information at a glance, such as number of emails, “@” mentions, and other notifications. Plus, you can resize them to give the more important and content-rich tiles prominence. Microsoft is now extending that functionality to the lock screen.

Instead of just featuring a static image each time, the WP8 lock screen is powered by Live Apps, so you can see notifications, text, and even ever-changing pictures. The new Facebook app got a special shout-out for the lock screen functionality as it will serve up different random pictures from your account. Users will be able to customize what apps can send info to the lock screen and, depending on the app, what info you get.

Kid’s Corner

microsoft announces new windows phone 8 features live lock screen family rooms a space for kids and more wp8 kidscorner

Kid’s Corner provides functionality right out of the box that will make a lot of parents breathe easily. Kid’s Corner is a special sub-account on your phone that you can activate when your children want to play with it. Parents will be able to choose which apps, games, and media their kids have access to, and children can even customize their own tiles and add their name to the phone.

We didn’t see password protection in the demo for this feature, but it wouldn’t be surprising if that’s available in the settings as well. If you don’t want Kid’s Corner, you can simply turn it off from the Settings.

People Hub

microsoft announces new windows phone 8 features live lock screen family rooms a space for kids and more wp8 peoplehub

Going with the theme of Windows Phone 8 as a more personal smartphone experience, the People Hub now has a neat sub-feature called Rooms. Users can put groups of contacts into rooms for a more intimate experience. Each WP8 device will come pre-loaded with a family room, but you can add others for close friends, co-workers, and more.

Once inside of rooms, users can send private messages to the group, see photos, share locations (important for families), view and edit a shared calendar, plus create shared notes using OneNote. All of these features work together and live together in one area so you’ll always know who you’re sharing information with, eliminating the need to worry about privacy.

The Rooms feature will work best with Windows Phone, but some aspects, such as the calendar, can work with other operating systems, such as iOS.

Data Sense

microsoft announces new windows phone 8 features live lock screen family rooms a space for kids and more wp8 datasense

Not only does Data Sense help phone owners to keep track of how much data they’re using, it also includes tools to help them use less. This is a great feature for people on limited data plans. Data Sense will show users how much data each app uses. When it’s on, the built-in browser will compress Web pages at the server level so that they use less data and don’t eat up precious megabytes. If you get close to your data cap, the phone automatically offsets data — often by connecting you via WiFi — so that you won’t go over. Data Sense’s Live Tile will offer up this information right on the Home screen.

Verizon Wireless will be the first carrier to support Data Sense with AT&T and T-Mobile following later this year or early next year.

SkyDrive

microsoft announces new windows phone 8 features live lock screen family rooms a space for kids and more olympus digital came

In addition to these new feature announcements, Microsoft also, once again, touted its SkyDrive service. The company announced that SkyDrive users will get 7GB of free storage, and the documents, photos, and other media they sync there will stay in their SkyDrive as long as they have the account. The demo of the seamless syncing and integration offered by SkyDrive was pretty slick, but whether or not it’s better than DropBox or SugarSync remains to be seen.

Apps

microsoft announces new windows phone 8 features live lock screen family rooms a space for kids and more olympus digital came

Microsoft also announced some new titles to its app store, including Skype, Twitter, Temple Run, and Pandora. The Skype app is now so well integrated that it can run in the background without using up a ton of battery power. Pandora won’t be available until 2013, but when it does comes out, WP8 users will get a year of ad-free listening. As for the rest of the choices, 46 of the 50 top apps will be in the store and ready for users to download when WP8 phones come out next month.

Overall, it looks like Windows Phone 8 is going to deliver on the promise of making your smartphone experience a more personal one. And given the smooth integration with Windows 8 for computers and tablets, Microsoft may be a contender in the mobile space again.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Grow veggies indoors and shower more efficiently

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Home Theater

Samsung Galaxy Buds first look: Are they ear candy or ear worm?

Samsung’s answer to the oddball design of Apple's AirPods is the new Galaxy Buds, which are cheaper, better looking, and bring some neat features. Can Galaxy Buds snuff out the AirPods?
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Norsemen’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Computing

These Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts will take your skills to a new level

Windows 10 has many new features, and they come flanked with useful new keyboard shortcuts. Check out some of the new Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts to improve your user experience and save more time!
Mobile

Protect and style your Samsung Galaxy S10 with the best cases and covers

If you've splashed the cash for a shiny new Samsung Galaxy S10, then you'll want to take steps to protect your investment. With a metal frame and glass curves, the S10 needs some cover. Check out the best Samsung Galaxy S10 cases.
Health & Fitness

Nike’s Android app is bricking its $350 Adapt BB self-lacing shoes

A firmware update for Nike's new self-lacing Adapt BB shoe appears to be bricking the $350 footwear for some owners. Android users have said the Nike app no longer pairs with the shoe, rendering the tightening mechanism useless.
Mobile

Where to buy the Samsung Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, and S10e in the U.K.

The Samsung Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, and S10e have all been officially announced and can be pre-ordered right now, with deliveries expected on March 8. If you're in the U.K., this is where you need to go to buy one.
Mobile

You can now pre-order the Samsung Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, or S10e

The Samsung Galaxy S10 is one of the most-anticipated phones of the year, offering a new chipset, beautiful display, and more. Now that the phone has been announced you might be wondering where you can get it for yourself.
Mobile

Sony partnership with Light aims to take smartphone photography to new heights

Smartphone photography is in its ascendancy, and a new partnership between Light and Sony hopes to lift it to new heights through the development of multi-image sensor solutions for smartphones. We spoke to Light to find out more.
Mobile

Samsung Galaxy S10 vs. Google Pixel 3: Can Samsung beat the stock Android king?

The Samsung Galaxy S10 is here, offering modern specs, a beautifully high-resolution display, and an edge-to-edge design with a small cutout in the display for the front-facing camera. But can the phone take out the Google Pixel 3?
Deals

Protect your iPhone or iPad with the IPVanish VPN, on sale through February

One of our favorite virtual private networks for iPhones and iPads, IPVanish, is now offering a huge discount on its two-year subscription as part of its 7th-birthday promotion. Read on to find out more about how this VPN works and how you…
Mobile

Verizon is launching real standards-based 5G in 30 cities in 2019

Verizon is in the midst of a massive 5G rollout. In addition to fixed 5G service, it will also begin deploying mobile 5G in the coming months. Here's everything you need to know about Verizon's 5G network and when it will be in your town.
Deals

Stay fit and save cash with our top 10 affordable Fitbit alternatives

As much as we love Fitbits, they're rather expensive. If all you want is a simple activity tracker, however, then check out these great cheap Fitbit alternatives. With offerings from brands like Garmin, you don't need to pay full price.
Mobile

Samsung Galaxy S10e vs. OnePlus 6T: Can the Flagship Killer survive?

The Samsung Galaxy S10e is the new affordable flagship on the block, but at $750, it's $200 more than the OnePlus 6T. Does the Flagship Killer stand a chance against the new generation of flagship devices? Let's take a closer look.