Update 2: Sorry everyone, the image and report have been debunked. Odds for a notification center are also looking slim. Original article follows.
All of this talk about HTC and Nokia has us exhausted. What good is hardware without some shiny new software? Unlike past years, we’re expecting to see some new hotness from Windows Phone at Mobile World Congress this time and earlier rumors have pointed to a major update, codenamed Apollo Plus, as a likely attendee for the big show. Now, an enigmatic new image has surface online and it could be teasing some big new features coming to our favorite platform.
The image surfaced via a report by WPCentral, in which Daniel Rubino connects the dots between deviantART user ~IWSFOD-D (who posted the teaser) and the significance of the image. As it turns out, the same person who manages that account just so happens to work in Software Quality Assurance of Windows Phone 8 for Nokia. This factoid in conjunction with the message accompanying the photo, where he reveals he recently visited Redmond, has us looking at more than just a fanboy’s (or troll’s) wet dream.
We definitely tip our hats to Rubino for pulling a Sherlock with his report, but now that we know the image can be trusted it’s time to whip out our own magnifying glass and wooden pipe. Looking at the image from a distance, it looks like a random array of live tiles that don’t reveal anything new or share any common themes. But as is usually the case with Windows Phone, it’s all about the little details.
Above we have edited the original image to highlight three elements that has our investigative minds flowing with ideas:
- Facebook wide live tile (top right): As far as we can tell, there is now way to create this tile in Windows Phone today. There’s a chance it could be a pinned album, but the other elements we spotted suggests Facebook is an important clue to what’s going on here.
- Not… (middle-right): This is probably the most obvious clue in the image, with a heading starting with ‘Not’ and a list of what appears to be messages from Twitter (notice the @ sign) and possibly Facebook (or something else starting with ’Fa’). In case you’re a little slow today, we’ll spell it out for you: this looks like a Notification Center!!
- Mysterious wide live tile (middle-left): Of the three, this clue has us guessing the most. It’s got to be important because it’s displaying a message from Joe Belfiore, which reads “Shh… We are not ready yet :-)”. Our guess? The Notification Center could be just another app on the phone, and we have a hunch we’re looking at its live tile.
As for other possible clues in the image, like the unusual white lines along the bottom and the obscured title (“Windows Phone | S…”) your guess is as good as ours. Either way, it looks like Microsoft will have plenty to show at Mobile World Congress this year. Just three more weeks!
Update: Jaxbot of Windows Phone Hacker fame recognized one key part of the image, and that’s because it includes a photoshopped version of his very own homebrew Notifications Center app. You can see his screenshot below, and it matches up perfectly with the obscured “Not…” part of the teaser image. That tells us two things: the person who made this is a little lazy, and that he isn’t using screenshots from the new update. Which means the notification center and all of the clues we pointed out may not look the same when Microsoft takes the stage later this month. Intriguing, no?