Microsoft leaks details about Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1

A couple of days ago, Microsoft mistakenly posted information about the upcoming Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 release on the Windows Phone OEM portal. The information was available to the broad public but the mistake was noticed relatively fast and Microsoft reacted by moving it to the part of the site accessible only by OEMs. Nevertheless, the information leaked and we have an insight into what’s coming with the next update.

Windows Phone 8.1

Nokia Lumia 630 with Windows Phone 8.1

Start screen folders

Plans for this feature are already known for some time. We knew it won’t make it to the Windows Phone 8.1 but that it will make it to the subsequent update. You’ll be able to create Start screen folders by moving a tile over another tile. Until now, we had an app from Nokia with similar functionality.

Additional resolution support

With Update 1, OEMs will be able to add a couple of new screen resolutions:

  • 800 x 1280 (upscaled from 768 x 1280)
  • 960 x 540 (upscaled from 720p)

Unfortunately, OEMs are still limited to max. 1080p.

Support for bigger devices

Windows Phone 8.1 brought a support for 6″ devices. Update 1 will bring a support for 7″ devices. Now, I am personally thinking of this as a further step in a direction of unifying Windows OSes, specially Windows Phone and RT. One thing is for sure, you won’t be seeing me holding a 7″ brick on my ear anytime soon 🙂

Smart case support

OEMs will be able to support smart covers like HTC Dot View (http://www.htc.com/us/accessories/htc-dot-view/) via a new API. This will bring more customization options to the Windows Phone platform.

Store live tile

Until now, Store tile was static. No plans to make it bigger as the medium size; however, when it’s set to the medium size, Store tile will be a live tile.

Cortana support for in-car systems

I think Cortana is pretty handy and I use it from time to time via Bluetooth. Yes, it can look pretty strange talking to your digital assistant but there are some situations where she is pretty useful. One of those situations is when you’re driving. With Windows Phone 8.1 you are able to use Cortana via in-car Bluetooth only when she initiates a communication (e.g. incoming SMS). There was no way to initiate a communication with Cortana without playing with your phone, which is not a smartest idea when driving. Update 1 will bring a phone entry you can “dial” from your in-car system and start chatting with Cortana, without a need to touch your phone.

Automatic updates

Windows Phone 8.1 introduced automatic updates for apps. You can turn them on or off or decide if the automatic updates will be available only when connected to a non-metered network. With Update 1, OEMs will be able to hide this option.

Proximity sensor

Now, this is an interesting one. With Update 1, proximity sensor will be a hard requirement. Funny thing though is that Nokia Lumia 630 (as the first Windows Phone 8.1 device) is coming without a proximity sensor. Does this mean that Lumia 630 users won’t get Update 1? Well, as a Lumia 630 user, I surely hope the opposite. Let’s see.

VoLTE support

In addition to VoIP capabilities of Windows Phone 8.0, Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 will bring Voice over LTE support. For more information about VoLTE, read articles like Why Your Phone Is Suddenly Making Clearer Calls http://time.com/110319/att-tmobile-volte/

NTP support

Update 1 introduces support for the Network Time Protocol (NTP) which will allow time sync with the servers on the internet. Although phone networks already broadcast time, I personally had some funny issues with them, resulting in incorrect time settings.

OS compression

A couple of days ago, Lumia 530 was announced. What intrigued me is the fact that it comes with 4 GB storage. When I look at the storage in Lumia 630, I see that the OS files take more than 3 GB space. I was wondering how Microsoft is going to pull off a device with 4 GB storage. OS compression may be the answer, and I guess that Lumia 530 will come with Update 1.

Performance improvements

With every release, OS bits are more optimized, so I expect performance improvements with this release as well.

What about availability? I expect the Update 1 to be available as a Developer Preview sometime in August. It is hard to tell if it will be available as an public update until end of year; it is still mostly up to the carriers when they will test and approve the update for their devices.

And, hopefully, that nasty Passport bug will be fixed as well…

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