Microsoft and Nokia are holding a big event today to show off the future of the Windows Phone platform. We're expecting to see some new hardware from Nokia's impressive Lumia line. The mobile device manufacturer has also been busy on the software side of things lately. They recently announced Nokia Music, a free streaming service, but a new partnership with AOL has yielded an even more impressive app.
Say hello to Entrance, AOL's new, and rather impressive, app for Nokia Lumia handsets. The app was built as part of a partnership between AOL and Nokia that will see AOL's stable of entertainment focused properties, like Moviefone and AOL Music, combined into a single app.
At first glance, Entrance seems like any other entertainment hub app. That would be doing the app a disservice, however, as its augmented reality feature is a game changer. Holding up the Nokia Lumia will display all the theaters in your vicinity alongside a list of the films being shown at each location. It also lists when the next showtime for each movie is alongside the average price of a ticket. It's by far one of the most impressive uses of augmented reality that I've seen.
“Entrance by AOL leverages the depth of AOL's content, whilst demonstrating the unique and
differentiated experiences partners can bring to Nokia Lumia smartphones. With innovative
features such as Augmented Reality, personalized and contextual Live Tiles and beautiful app
design, enabled through the rich Windows Phone UI, we believe Nokia consumers will love this
exclusive one stop shop for entertainment.” said Mark Fletcher, Director, Global Partnering &
Application Development, Nokia.
Entrance is only going to be available on the Nokia Lumia handsets, which are exclusively powered by Windows Phone. The partnership seems indicative of a larger partnership between AOL and Microsoft, but Sol Lipman, VP of Mobile First for AOL, told WebProNews that that is not the case. He says that that AOL is "exploring how to best leverage the Windows 8 platform and our content." He also said that that Microsoft's "distributions channels are of interest to AOL."
Besides the impressive augmented reality, Entrance is playing around with the idea of interlinked content. The app brings together movies, music and TV in a way that connects it all based on actors, news and even soundtracks. AOL uses the example of looking up a movie and then being able to listen to the soundtrack right there. Of course, users can also buy and download the soundtrack if they so wish.
Combining augmented reality and interlinked content into a single app is already an impressive feat, but AOL has higher aspirations. Lipman told us that they intend to create "the ESPN for entertainment." It's a lofty goal as most consumers use multiple apps and sources for all their entertainment needs. Apple has come really close to being that with iTunes, but there's nothing that covers the wide breadth of entertainment like ESPN does with sports. AOL might just be the first do that.
AOL's Entrance seems like it's from the future, but it's actually built with Windows Phone 7 in mind. Anybody who owns a Windows Phone that's outfitted with Windows Phone 7.5 can download Entrance right now. AOL has built it to be forward compatible with Windows Phone 8, but I can imagine them adding some exclusive features to take advantage of all the new goodies in Windows Phone 8.
I never thought I would see the day when Windows Phone gets a killer app, but AOL seems to have created that app. I expect Google and Apple to follow suit with their own similar apps in the near future. We'll find out later today if Microsoft and Nokia can keep the momentum going in Windows Phone's favor.