Leaked Windows Phone 8 SDK reveals new features including improved camera

The intervening period sandwiched between a product announcement and its actual release can be long and agonising for potential customers. But thankfully, in the age of non-stop online chatter, fans’ pre-launch appetites are partly satiated by leaks, reports and rumours.

And for those excited about the forthcoming Windows Phone 8 release we have a pretty major leak in the form of the platform’s SDK (software developer kit) which many are now downloading. The file’s availability was discovered on Chinese site wpxap.com and gives us an early indication about what we can expect from Microsoft’s hotly-anticipated OS.

Most notable are reports of an improved built-in camera experience that developers will be able to access with their apps. Windows Phone hasn’t been known for its photography capabilities thus far, but its engineers seem keen to rectify that with a completely new camera API that makes it possible to get real-time access to a phone’s video stream, adapt ISO and exposure, use multi-frame capture and imaging effects and filtering to the on-board camera, reports Wired.

This latter inclusion looks like another nod to Instagram-type photo editing after we reported Blackberry 10’s own move toward such features. Phone platforms seeking to enhance their camera capabilities are no doubt keen to replicate elements popularised by Instagram, which is pretty understandable seeing how things have turned out for that start-up.

In a development that will be welcomed by many, a screenshot function should also be incorporated. Reports from Germany have highlighted the feature that has so far been a little conspicuous by its absence on Windows Phone.

Another new addition exposed by the SDK is Nokia Maps, which includes a full 3D-mode. The service should offer a significant upgrade from the Windows Phone's past deployment of Bing Maps, and Microsoft will be hoping to keep up with the navigational expansion of rivals Apple and Google - now battling for mapping supremacy since iOS ditched Google’s service.

The leak confirms many other features already announced by Microsoft, including in-app purchasing, native code support and new APIs for speech recognition, while we can also look forward to the Wallet app, Internet Explorer 10 and the incorporation of NFC technology.

We are yet to receive an official release date for WP 8 but a November launch has been mooted.