Microsoft will seek to draw more people to its Internet-based services with two new mid-range smartphones it unveiled Thursday, including one designed to help people take better selfies.
The devices are under the Lumia brand Microsoft bought from Nokia. They run the latest version of Windows Phone 8 and feature Cortana, a Siri-like voice assistant available to help with directions, calendar appointments and messages. Many of those interactions will steer users to Microsoft services such as Bing search and OneDrive storage.
Chris Weber, Microsoft's vice president for mobile devices sales, insisted consumers should feel comfortable about storing their personal pictures on OneDrive, despite the recent exposure of celebrities' private pictures stored on rival Apple's cloud-based system.
''I think we have to amplify the message around security regarding these cloud services,'' Weber told reporters.
To this end, Microsoft is also giving users more control over the kind of information - friends, diaries, home address - that the Cortana voice assistant will have access to, he said.
Microsoft bought Nokia's phone business in April as it seeks to boost Microsoft's Windows Phone system, which has had little traction compared with Apple's iPhones and Google's Android system. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has made mobile phones and Internet-based services priorities for the company as its traditional businesses - Windows and Office software installed on desktops - slow down or decline.
Microsoft unveiled the new Lumia 730 and 830 phones at the IFA technology show in Berlin.
The handsets won't have all the technical advances found in Microsoft's pricier flagship, the Lumia 930 phone, which is known as the Lumia Icon in the United States. The 730's rear camera takes 6.7 megapixel shots, while the 830 is 10 megapixels. By contrast, the 930 phone is at 20 megapixels, one of the highest in a smartphone.
But the 730, in particular, will have features designed for better selfies and video calls. The front camera used for selfies will be 5 megapixels, higher than the 2 megapixels found in many phones.
For even better shots, it'll be possible to take selfies with the rear camera. Users won't be able to see themselves on the screen, but an app called Lumia Selfie will use face-detection technology and beeps to guide users on where to hold the camera. Samsung's upcoming Note phones will have a similar feature, along with software to stitch multiple shots on the front camera to