13 Nov WP8 Adds More Features For Business Users
Many enterprises may be sceptical about the benefits of deploying a fleet of Windows Phone 8 devices, particularly when the iPhone presents such a compelling case.
However, unbeknown to most organisations, Windows Phone 8 brings a few interesting features for the Enterprise. Microsoft already announced in June a few of the features of WP8 that Enterprise would benefit from, features that may see Windows Phone 8 become the modern Blackberry for Enterprises. However, it seems that Microsoft haven’t stopped there, announcing more features that would be beneficial to business users.
Redesigned Office Hub
To create a seamless experience for heavy Microsoft Office users, the Windows Phone 8 team have shifted things around in the Office Hub, in order to make it easier to access Office documents. The Office Hub allows you to access your personal and work documents on SkyDrive, Office 365 and SharePoint, as well as enabling your documents to travel with you from device to device with Office 365.
Any shapes, SmartArt Graphics and transitions (including timing) you have added in PowerPoint will be brought across onto your Windows Phone, while when using Excel on your Windows Phone, Workbooks open at the last saved sheet and zoom level.
OneNote mobile has been moved out of the Hub and been made available directly as a standalone app which can have its own tile on the Start screen by default. OneNote mobile allows you to take text, photo and voice notes, as well as offering a consistent experience for notes in OneNote 2013, OneNote for Windows Store and of course OneNote mobile. Another cool feature of OneNote mobile is the ability to dictate a note or reminder while the phone is locked, so your spontaneous thoughts are always captured. The voice dictation capability extends further to emails, allowing users to send and reply to emails using voice. The app also allows you to create task lists easily; all you need to do is tap the check box icon to add it to your task.
WP8 also features a new Rooms experience, which makes it essentially an invitation only place on your phone (and on the phone of the other members within the Room), where you can share a private calendar, group chat, photos or videos and notes. This feature is great for not only collaborating with your colleagues with private notes, calendars, group chats, photos or videos, but also keeping personal and work related content separate from each other. Another added bonus is the automatic creation of a shared OneNote notebook when you set up a Room.
Outlook is one of the most widely used email applications in the enterprise, so a mobile OS that delivers a fully integrated Outlook solution on a smartphone is certainly an invaluable feature for business users. Outlook in WP8 offers integrated email, contacts, calendar and tasks, making it easier to keep up with your emails and appointments on the go.
Just like IE 10 on Windows 8, IE 10 on WP8 features a Smartscreen Filter, which improves user security while surfing the web. The filter alerts users if they try to visit potentially malicious sites. The SmartScreen filter offers users:
- Anti-phishing protection—to screen threats from imposter websites seeking to acquire personal information such as user names, passwords, and billing data.
- Application Reputation—to remove all unnecessary warnings for well-known files, and show severe warnings for high-risk downloads.
- Anti-malware protection—to help prevent potentially harmful software from infiltrating your computer.
IE 10 will block the entire site if a malicious website is detected when appropriate, while it also has the ability to block malicious pages on a legitimate site without affecting the rest of the site called a “surgical block”.
Downloads are also monitored with the SmartScreen Filter, which works with Download Manager to block potentially risky downloads. Download Manager identifies higher risk programs so the user can decide whether to delete, run or save the download.
The benefits to business is of course a higher level of security when users are browsing the internet on the network, reducing the risk of the user downloading a malicious file.
For business users always on the go, Windows Phone 8 offers a fantastic maps app. Nokia maps are built into all Windows Phone 8 devices and includes map data that covers more than 180 countries. The app also enables users to download maps for offline viewing, invaluable to those on a tight data budget. Nokia Maps also offers turn by turn navigation and allows users to view venue maps (for shopping centres, stadiums, airports and train stations worldwide).
Over The Air Updates
To make it easier to keep a WP8 phone up to date, updates are now delivered over the air, instead of requiring the device to be plugged into a PC. Users can choose to manually check for updates, be notified when an update is available or to choose whether to automatically download updates. Of course, this simplifies the users experience by making it easier to update the phone, reducing the need for IT members to become involved in this process.
New and Improved Skype
Skype has quickly become an invaluable tool for conferences and everyday communications between teams and colleagues. With Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype comes a new WP8 Skype client that features a range of new features. The Skype client keeps users signed in even when the app is closed, which makes it easy for the user to be reached at all times.
Multitasking has been taken into consideration, with Skype calls remaining active even if the user navigates away from Skype. Users can also receive Skype calls and chat updates while their phones are locked, ensuring that the conversation can continue seamlessly. Despite the ‘always on’ character of the new Skype client, the Skype app reduces battery usage when not in use by staying “asleep” in the background until it’s woken up by an incoming chat or call.
Another incredibly useful feature for the busy professional is the ability to multitask. In some cases, WP8 will automatically pause built-in and third-party apps when users do other tasks, which prevents users from having to start from scratch when they return to the app later. Other apps such as music, video, location and Skype/VoIP, on the other hand will be allowed to continue to execute in the background.
Everyone knows how easy it is to forget your phone’s PIN number and the panic that goes along with it if you manage to forget it. WP8 throws users another lifeline if they forget their PIN, by prompting them to enter an alphanumeric phrase before a final PIN attempt can be made after several incorrect attempt at their PIN.
To further protect the user’s data, WP8 features a new Kid’s Corner capability which allows users to provide children using their phones with a predetermined set of applications, with all other phone features or content protected by the lock screen and an optional PIN. This is a fantastic feature for those who have sensitive or important business related content on their phone or those who are worried about their children accidentally racking up a huge data bill.