All modern mobile operating systems have their pros and cons. One of the main disadvantages of Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Phone 8 is its limited support for hardware (displays, application processors, etc.), a rather unacepptable attribute for an OS that is supposed to serve smartphones from different manufacturers. This week Microsoft officially announced WP8 general distribution release 3 (GDR3), which removes some of the OS’s limitations.
One of the main innovations of Windows Phone 8 update 3 is support for 5“ and 6“ displays as well as 1920*1080 resolution. Thanks to large screens, WP8 GDR3 will also feature jumbo-sized Start screens with room for six Live Tiles across instead of four. A bigger Start screen means the ability to pin more of the people, info, and apps that matter. 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” screens.
Another important improvement of Windows Phone GDR3 is support for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 application processor with four Krait 400 cores and Adreno 320 graphics engine. The added horsepower that this chip delivers should make operating system perform better. Unfortunately, it looks like Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 remains the only SoC with four general-purpose processing egines supported by WP8 platform.
In addition to larger displays and faster app processors, Windows Phone 8 update 3 brings a number of important software-based innovations that are intended to improve overall user experience.
A new feature called Driving Mode is designed to limit notifications on the lock screen – including texts, calls, and quick status alerts – while the owner is driving. It is possible to configure Driving Mode to send automatic replies to people who call or text.
Nokia Lumia 1520. Photo by @Evleaks
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.
Finally, there are improved Internet sharing over Wi-Fi, better Bluetooth connectivity, more advanced storage management as well as more useful ringtones.
Windows Phone 8 GDR3 will bring a new breed of high-end smartphones that will finally match the best handsets based on Google Android operating systems in terms of feature-set. This will inevitably improve positions of Microsoft’s platform on the market of high-end devices and will open the doors for next-gen mainstream products with improved displays and processors.
The first smartphone based on WP8 GDR3 will be Nokia Lumia 1520 that will be announced next week. Microsoft Windows Phone 8 update 3 will roll out to existing phones over the next several months.