Microsoft's Windows Phone plans will take touch and gestures to a whole new level

Details emerged last week of Microsoft's plans for some of its future devices, since the company took over Nokia's devices business earlier this year. Today, more information has been revealed, including some aspects of what Microsoft has in store for its Windows Phone operating system. 

One of the devices revealed in the recent leak was referred to only by its codename, McLaren. That handset was identified as a new flagship, destined for AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile (or its successor), scheduled to arrive later this year. Windows Phone Central later reported that that device will be the first to launch with new '3D Touch' technologies. 

As WPCentral noted, one intriguing aspect of 3D Touch is called MixView. A simple example of MixView in action would be to hover your finger over a Start screen tile, with the tile reacting to that presence by opening up to display a view of mini-tiles featuring shortcuts or commands which can then be pressed normally, allowing users to complete quick tasks without necessarily having to open an app or search for a function hidden in menus. 

But Microsoft's plans for gesture and touch interactions go much further than this, as The Verge revealed today. While some manufacturers have used front-facing cameras to implement gesture support, Microsoft's efforts are much more sophisticated than this. The company has been developing hardware that turns virtually the entire handset into a 'sensitive' unit, with touch implementation extending beyond the display, and gestures that do not rely solely on the camera. 

This is where McLaren comes in: it will be the first device to support Microsoft's new 3D Touch system, and it will be unique among other Windows Phones in its use of sensor technology. No other Windows Phone manufacturers will support this technology at launch; this will, initially, be a Microsoft exclusive.

Citing sources familiar with Microsoft's plans, The Verge reveals that the sensors around the device will, for example, be able to understand how a device is being held, allowing for a more 'intelligent' orientation switch than the current on/off 'rotation lock' setting. The handset's bezels will also be able to control elements of the user interface, such as swiping a finger across one edge to zoom in and out on the camera viewfinder. 

Further examples include the ability to answer a call simply by picking up the phone and holding it to your ear, and hanging up by putting it in your pocket or bag. Waving your hand in front of the display could be a way of dismissing notifications, while simply holding the phone against your chest while in a call would mute the microphone completely. 

Microsoft's intentions with 3D Touch are to make gestures intuitive, and more significantly, to remove hardware buttons from Windows Phone devices. Even the power button could be removed, replaced by touch-sensitivity recognizing a hand gripping the device, for example. 

McLaren is expected to make its début in November, but we'll no doubt hear much more about its impressive new technologies between now and then - not least because Microsoft will be looking to its growing developer community to take advantage of these new capabilities, ready for the next generation of sensor-packed Windows Phones. 

Source: The Verge / Windows Phone Central | images are illustrative and do not represent the McLaren device

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Sounds very interesting. Some of the potential uses of this tech could be more than gimmicks. And even if its a big gimmicky, it would still make this a unique device that feels ahead of the pack. It should help MS get into the splotlight and have reviewers actually consider a WP as a viable alternative.

Right now I feel too many reviews consider Apple the real deal and see Google as a good alternative due to its price. Too often they brush aside WP as an unnecessary as Google is already serving the affordable handset market. Who knows, maybe MS can get the reputation of being the new 'product leader' with this device.

Wishful thinking. MS will get no press. The only people who will know about it will be people who follow MS news sites.

Contrast to Apple, where their WWDC announcements got reported as top stories on every major media network.

Enron said,
Wishful thinking. MS will get no press. The only people who will know about it will be people who follow MS news sites.

Contrast to Apple, where their WWDC announcements got reported as top stories on every major media network.

There are unbiatched techsites who are genuinly interested in product development. In 2012 the Lumia got a lot of love from such sites as well due to the camera innovation. True enough we can name a list of techsites that will try to keep MS from the spotlight at all cost but I dont think they are the norm (although they do get a lot of menrion on MS sites like this due to their unfair threatment).

Naturally it all depends on how amazing this turns out to be. But if it actually is useful then I can see this reaching the news. Make people interested in the device. Not necessarily to buy a WP but more to see what it all can do. Which in turn will make them give WP fair consideration. Right now many tech enthousiasts simply ignore WP as the unncessary extra. It might have all they need but it doesnt have anything they need that the others dont have so they've never actually considered it. IF it has something unique then it gets people's attention.

Sadly, Sprint still isn't sold on Windows Phone. We saw how long it took them to adopt WP8, and they only made some small pathetic tweaks to the HTC 8X and Samsung ATIV S and rebadged them to make them "Sprint Exclusives." Following that, they barely pushed the devices and have been trying to push them out to pasture. Pitiful if you ask me.

Anthony S said,
Sadly, Sprint still isn't sold on Windows Phone. We saw how long it took them to adopt WP8, and they only made some small pathetic tweaks to the HTC 8X and Samsung ATIV S and rebadged them to make them "Sprint Exclusives." Following that, they barely pushed the devices and have been trying to push them out to pasture. Pitiful if you ask me.
Yeah, and I bet HTC will never update the firmware on my 8XT either.

I was in your situation but on a Lumia 900, then got a Lumia 520 for $30 to see what WP8 was like. It's pretty decent, but I haven't tried 8.1 yet.

Enron said,
I was in your situation but on a Lumia 900, then got a Lumia 520 for $30 to see what WP8 was like. It's pretty decent, but I haven't tried 8.1 yet.

I have a 920 for work with the developer 8.1 on it. Just don't care for the physical feel of the Lumias

MS need to get rid of ugly flat bald color tiles and put some fresh 3d style icon to make it attractive. UI is so disgusting to look at.

Auditor said,
MS need to get rid of ugly flat bald color tiles and put some fresh 3d style icon to make it attractive. UI is so disgusting to look at.

Get yerself a Windows Mobile device then.

I hate the transparent tiles. The UI is MUCH cleaner with the original tiles. And I'll smack the next person who insist on stupid "3D" tiles.

Robert Wade said,
I hate the transparent tiles. The UI is MUCH cleaner with the original tiles. And I'll smack the next person who insist on stupid "3D" tiles.

I won't rest until I have live cubes on my Lumia. :p

Robert Wade said,
I hate the transparent tiles. The UI is MUCH cleaner with the original tiles. And I'll smack the next person who insist on stupid "3D" tiles.

Transparent tiles also means tiles have the PhoneAccentColor colour as their background, thus they look like they're part of the OS. That's not good?

I just wish the Windows 8 tiles looked like the Windows Phone tiles. Their colors, their animations, their padding are all different..

Robert Wade said,
I hate the transparent tiles. The UI is MUCH cleaner with the original tiles. And I'll smack the next person who insist on stupid "3D" tiles.

I quite like having the picture as a background on the tiles. I've got all the transparent tiles in one section then into the flat colour tiles, then the web tiles and such. Scroll down for content. Love my 1520.

I'll tell you what, the new 8.1 feature of swiping across letters to form words is so slick and works so great, I'm hardly ever typing by tapping letters anymore.

You mean 3rd parties have been doing it on Android for years. The same 3rd parties who were doing it on Windows Mobile before that. Swype turned me off that sort of keyboard because it was so awkward to use but the implementation in WP8.1 is really easy to use

I hate that feature and I never use it. I type much faster than I can use that swiping feature.

Robert Wade said,
I hate that feature and I never use it. I type much faster than I can use that swiping feature.

I thought the same thing at first Robert. But try it a few more times, and it does get faster and easier.

All I want is a Nokia Lumia device available on AT&T in November, and that is top of the line. Thin, light, fast, fluid, beautiful, rugged, with the best camera ever.

I'd also like microSD expansion.

Everything else is gravy.

Conceptually this sound great, the way it will be implemented will determine its fate.
I am not sure about the release date though: this technology will require an overhaul of WP GUI and it seems unlikely that MS will do it as an upgrade of WP8, launching it as part of WP9 would make more sense, at least commercially.

pmbAustin said,
It was apparently going to be part of 8.1, but they're instead going to ship it as part of GDDR1 ("Update 1") in the fall.

It well might be although I am not convinced that a GUI overhaul will be part of a GDR update, a new OS version would better capitalize from the update.
I would not mind to be proven wrong though.....

Samsung already has that whole "put the phone to your ear to answer".

I'm not in the habit of putting loud objects up to my ear.

Cyborg_X said,
Hopefully this will work on poorly written websites that use hover/mouse over command on menus.

What makes a site poorly written because it uses hover and mouse commands? You have to remember, the web has been around a LOT longer then tablets / smart phones.... we still write sites for people that use desktops first, smart phone / tablet is a second though even to this day