Following my time with the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Pen, I spent some time talking with a Microsoft representative about their upcoming Lumia phones. (Please bear in mind that food and drinks were provided for free during this event and I absolutely partook in both.)
I opened with the most important question of all—does it still double as a hammer? Unfortunately, he didn't have any information about its functionality as a hand tool available. He also was unable to say with any certainty whether or not the new Lumias can stop bullets (as demonstrated by an earlier model saving a Brazilian Police Officer).
The new Lumia phones will all be equipped with USB-C ports for charging and interfacing. One of the interesting things about the USB-C format is that it's fully reversible—there's no "right side up" with this type of plug. (TechRaptor wrote a little about some USB-C features here.) The days of fumbling around for the correct way to plug in your charger seem to be coming to an end.
An interesting idea presented throughout the event was the idea of all of your devices working together neutrally—a Windows 10 device is a Windows 10 device is a Windows 10 device. The new Lumias exemplify this philosophy through how they work with their docks. Plug the dock into your television, hook up a keyboard and mouse, and you have yourself what is essentially a tiny Windows 10 computer that you can walk away with in your pocket.
All of your messaging is now integrated within one screen. Skype messages, SMS, and the like all come in to one central location, and you can respond to them without having to worry about flipping between app windows. I asked if this same feature extended to all Windows 10 devices—would you be able to respond to SMSes on your desktop if your phone was on the other side of the room? Unfortunately, the rep didn't have an answer beyond "That's the general idea of what we're working towards."
I was also curious about their app offerings. One of the big things that was clear throughout the night was that Microsoft is pushing a unified SDK very hard. If you develop something in Windows 10, it should ideally be able to work on desktop, tablets, and phones without much in the way of problems. But there's already thousands of apps on other stores; I was curious if Microsoft was doing anything to bring existing apps to the Windows phone environment either through porting or emulation. The rep wasn't able to be any more specific than making it clear that Microsoft is trying to make developing for Windows phone as easy as possible.
Microsoft is certainly working very hard to make the Windows phone environment competitive with iOS and Android, but they have an uphill battle to fight. All of these new features are nice, but they depend heavily on having a unified Windows ecosystem in your home. For some people, the prospect of the third-place phone environment being able to integrate seamlessly with the first-place desktop environment might not be enough to make Windows phones as successful as Microsoft would like them to be.
Do you own a Windows phone? Do you think it stacks up to Android and iOS, or do you feel it's lacking? Let us know in the comments below!