Microsoft Announces GR3 update, bring support for 1080p display: Still no Notification center
This morning at 8 AM ET, Microsoft officially pulled the veil off of the highly anticipated General Distribution Release 3 (GDR3), the third and final OS update for Windows Phone 8 before next year’s 8.1 overhaul. GDR3 is expected to begin delivery to current devices in the coming weeks, will bring many new features to current and future Windows Phones, including:
- Support for 1080p display for new devices like the Lumia 1520
- Support for new processors including Qualcomm’s Snapdragon MSM8974 quad-core CPU
- Close apps by tapping on the X on top right in multitasking view. The icon of the app appears below.
- Custom tones for text or IM, voicemail, email and reminders (confirmed earlier by Windows Phone Central)
- Better storage management: New storage settings make it easier to free up space on your phone and manage temporary files. A new category view shows what’s taking up space at a glance.
- Screen Rotation lock: When auto-rotate screen is off, your screen will stay in the current orientation when you rotate your phone.
- Driving Mode: Turns of all notifications except texts and phone calls when you’re driving. You can also turn calls and texts off completely or set Driving Mode to text and automatic reply like “Hey, I am driving right now. I’ll reply you later.” Driving Mode can start automatically when your phone connects to a Bluetooth device.
- Connect to Wi-Fi in OOBE when switching on your new phone for the first time or after you your reset your phone, so you can restore your data even before connecting to a cellular network.
- Attach Office files (.doc, .xls, .ppt) and .pdf files in email.
Microsoft detailed the new OS update on their official Windows Phone blog, noting that a lot of the new features were driven by user requests.
Announcing our third Windows Phone 8 update-plus a new developer preview program
Darren Laybourn, corporate vice president, Windows Phone
A bigger Start screen for more Live Tiles. A new, customizable Driving Mode. Better accessibility options.
These are just some of the new features and innovations that we’re getting ready to deliver to you in Windows Phone 8 Update 3, which will roll out to existing phones over the next several months. As manager of the engineering team responsible for delivering updates to your Windows Phone, today I wanted to tell you a bit more about what’s included in our third official update of the year-plus describe a new preview program we’re launching to help developers keep their apps running smoothly on our latest software.
It’s been a busy but exciting year for my team-and Windows Phone overall. If you follow the news, you might have seen that our market share in Europe has grown to nearly 10 percent. We’re seeing things really start to accelerate. We believe this is because we continue to advance the platform at a rapid pace. Our hardware partners, meanwhile, have been taking advantage of this innovation and releasing amazing new Windows Phone devices throughout the year.
The story behind No. 3
When we sat down to plan our latest official update to Windows Phone 8, we had three main engineering goals in mind:
Enable incredible new Windows Phone devices.
Enhance the platform with new capabilities for current users and partners.
Improve overall quality.
Support for bigger, higher-resolution screens
So the new update paves the way for future Windows Phone devices with 5- and 6-inch touch screens. The larger, 1080p HD displays on these devices will make Windows Phone even more personal-for example by sporting jumbo-sized Start screens with room for six Live Tiles across instead of four.
A bigger Start screen means the ability to pin even more of the people, info and apps that matter to you. Built-in apps and Hubs like email, Photos, People, and Music and Videos will also be carefully scaled to take full advantage of the additional real estate on 6-inch screens.
More powerful hardware
In addition to larger screens, Update 3 will also bring support for Qualcomm’s 8974 quad-core processor. The added horsepower that this chip delivers should make our already-fluid operating system perform even better.
A new feature called Driving Mode helps you get from point A to point B with fewer distractions. Working with a connected Bluetooth device, Driving Mode is designed to limit notifications on the lock screen-including texts, calls, and quick status alerts-until you’re safely parked.
You can even configure Driving Mode to send automatic replies to people who call or text when you’re behind the wheel, to let them know you’ll get back to them.
New accessibility features
Another highlight of the new update is Mobile Accessibility for Windows Phone 8, which isn’t a single feature but a suite of apps designed to make Windows Phone easier to see, hear, and use. The apps, which include a screen reader, make it easier for blind and visually impaired users to manage calls and contacts, send texts and emails, browse the web, make Skype and Lync calls, and hear notifications like alarms, calendar events, and low-battery warnings.
Improved Internet Sharing
Many of you are familiar with the Internet Sharing feature, which turns Windows Phone 8 into a mobile hotspot by sharing your cellular data connection over Wi-Fi.
In Update 3, we’ve made it easier to use your phone as a data-savvy hotspot for Windows 8.1 devices. Just pair your phone and Windows 8.1 PC or tablet over Bluetooth, tap your network name, and you’ll be connected and ready to go. No need to enter a password or dig out your phone and turn on Internet Sharing-it’s done for you.
But, wait, there’s more
That’s not all we’ve packed into Windows Phone 8 Update 3. Besides hundreds of under-the-hood performance tweaks and enhancements, we’ve also added a bunch of small but handy new features, including several that you’ve been asking for. They include:
More useful ringtones: With Update 3, you can use custom ringtones for more things-including instant messages, emails, voicemails, and reminders. You can also assign custom ringtones to contacts for text messages, so you’ll know who’s texting you without even looking.
No more twist and shout: Does your screen keep spinning when you’re trying to read emails in bed? Use the new rotation lock option to keep it fixed in place.
Better storage management: New storage settings make it easier to free up space on your phone and manage temporary files. A new category view shows what’s taking up space at a glance.
Easily close apps: Now you can use the App switcher to quickly close apps when you’re finished with them.
Wi-Fi access out of the box: You can now connect to Wi-Fi during phone set up, so you can start conserving cellular data right out of the box.
Better Bluetooth: The team made a bunch of improvements to improve connection quality for Bluetooth accessories.
As you can see, there’s some fun and handy stuff in Windows Phone 8 Update 3. If you have suggestions for future updates, submit them to our Windows Phone Suggestion Box site. We always appreciate the feedback and take it into account as we prioritize new work.
So when will all this be coming to your phone? As I mentioned earlier, the rollout initially kicks off in the coming weeks and will continue over several months. Specific timing depends on a number of factors including your carrier and phone model.