Rumors surrounding Microsoft's Windows Phone platform have been circulating, starting with a leaked roadmap of its codenamed Tango and Apollo updates. PocketNow managed to score more news, and the focus is on the Apollo update which is reportedly looking at a Q4 2012 release.
In a video meant for its partners at Nokia, a number of features for the Apollo update has been revealed. From the hardware perspective, the update will support multi-core devices and a total of four screen resolutions. The latter is especially important should Microsoft wish to target emerging markets, which usually play down the screen resolution to keep costs low. More importantly, Microsoft is looking to reverse its earlier decision and allow microSD support with the Apollo update. Fact is, relying on an internal storage hasn't given consumers a lot of leeway in expanding their media collection on a Windows Phone.
Near field communication will be part of the focus for Apollo, with Microsoft explaining that wireless payments can be carrier-branded and controlled, either by a secure element on the SIM card or utilizing hardware in the phone itself. Given how Nokia is making a huge move into the NFC infrastructure and their tight relationship with Microsoft, we might see more practical NFC applications when Apollo comes to town.
The Apollo update, which is supposedly looking to be named Windows Phone 8, will also see a tight integration with its Windows 8 cousin. Besides a similar Metro user interface, Windows Phone 8 is designed to make it easier for developers to port their apps onto the desktop environment. According to Microsoft, developers are looking at reusing most of their apps' code for the Windows 8 platform, and the specifics go towards the kernel, networking stacks, security, and multimedia support as areas of heavy overlap.
Other related software updates include a dedicated app to sync Windows Phone 8 with the desktop, and this will presumably move the sync relationship away from the current arrangement via the Zune PC client. The Apollo update will also see the Xbox app having a similar counterpart on Windows 8, while Skydrive will see a lot more integration with Windows Phone. To that effect, Microsoft cited how your music collection that resides on Skydrive can be synced to a Windows Phone, without a PC.
The apps ecosystem will also see a stronger growth, but Microsoft is targeting two specific areas for Apollo. The first move might see Skype being put to good use on the Apollo update, promising a user experience that's similar to your regular phone calls, except it's conducted as a VoIP call. The camera will see more apps being integrated, which includes various effects or even modes such as a combined burst mode with smile detection.
Apollo updates aside, Microsoft is expected to release the Windows Phone Tango update within Q2 2012. It is believed this will be an incremental update, and details of the Tango update will be revealed at Mobile World Congress 2012. Unfortunately, the company has been mum on what exactly will be revealed at Barcelona.