As with Windows Phone 7, Windows Phone 8 has a tile-focused interface sporting "live" tiles that show constantly changing information, such as social media updates or new mail messages. Windows 8 tweaks that tiled interface. For example, you can now choose from three different tile sizes. In addition, the Lock screen can display notifications from apps or services and lets you choose which to display, much like you can in the PC and tablet versions of Windows 8.
Parents will welcome the new Kid's Corner, which lets parents create a separate account for their kids -- it can be customized to only allow access to specific apps, videos, music and games.
The People Hub has been beefed up; it's now easier to see all of your contacts and friends from multiple services in a single location. And if you have an NFC-enabled device (like the HTC Windows Phone 8X), you can exchange contacts with another NFC-enabled Windows 8 phone simply by tapping them together.
The new Wallet in Windows 8 is also NFC-enabled, which means you can use it to pay for goods and services by tapping an NFC-enabled point-of-sale device -- not that there are many of them around yet. (The Wallet, as its name implies, is a digital wallet that stores credit cards, debit cards, loyalty cards and so on.)
Windows Phone 8 also includes a new Office hub, which gives access to Microsoft Office apps and documents. It improves slightly on the previous version of Office by including new viewing modes for documents and support for reading charts in Excel. OneNote has also been improved, including the ability to send photos to it.
The Windows 8 ecosystem
In Microsoft's worldview, no Windows 8 device is an island, and using the HTC Windows Phone 8X in concert with a Windows 8 PC shows that off.
At a Glance
HTCPrice: $99.99 (8GB), $199.99 (16GB) with two-year contract from AT&T, T-Mobile or Verizon Wireless (availability/price may vary depending on supplier). No-contract version: $499.99 (8GB), $549.99 (16GB)Pros: Slick design, excellent performance, good screen,syncs and works well with the Windows 8 ecosystemCons: Limited storage with no expansion capacity; so-so camera; lackluster voice-control capabilities; no voice-guided turn-by-turn GPS
When I signed in with my Microsoft ID, the phone automatically populated with photos, social networking information, documents and more from my Windows 8 PC. Changes made on the phone were synced back to the PC as well. It even grabbed information about my home wireless network, including my name and password, and automatically connected me to it without asking. All this happened so seamlessly that I didn't even realize I was connected to my Wi-Fi network until I checked. (If you don't want to sync automatically, you can change your settings on your Windows PC.)
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