After a recent leak on their website, Microsoft has officially announced the first of two expected updates to the Windows Phone 8.1 platform that are due before the end of the year. On July 30 Microsoft posted on their blog that participants in the developer preview program will receive the GDR1 (general distribution release) update next week.
The first update to roll out is incredibly small when compared to the monster Windows Phone 8.1 update which just started rolling out late last week, but the update still brings some pretty significant features to the mobile platform.
The GDR1 update will finally bring many requested features to the platform including Live Folders, an updated Xbox Music app, Windows Phone Store live tile, improvements to SMS messaging, a new App Corner that will allow users to determine which apps can be seen by other users when they use the phone, and major improvements that will enhance both the privacy and security features of the platform.
While many of the updates in the GDR1 release are improvements to the software side of Windows Phone, there are actually several new additions in relation to the hardware side as well. The update will allow developers to implement support for live covers, such as the Dot View case that users of the HTC One M8 can enjoy on the Android platform, equipment manufacturers will be able to develop and implement the Windows Phone software on devices with 7-inch displays, and now high quality qHD displays will also be supported.
Windows Phone users will also be pleased to hear that VoLTE (Voice over LTE) will now be possible thanks to the latest update. Bluetooth support is also increasing with support for high quality Bluetooth audio thanks to the aptX codec, and PAN or personal area network via Bluetooth will also be included in the release.
Another great benefit of the update is that Windows Phone’s that have the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor will be able to take advantage of the Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0, which will allow rapid, high voltage USB charging. While Quick Charge might not sound like a significant upgrade, end users will see battery charging times that are 75 percent faster than present charging times.
All of today’s announcements come via Joe Belfiore, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of Windows Phone. Belfiore is currently holding a conference in China, where during his Keynote he also announced that Cortana has now expanded to the UK, China, and soon India.
The last few weeks have been hectic for Microsoft. After announcing that there would be more than 18,000 employee layoffs and a major restructuring effort, the company has gone on the offensive when it comes to Windows Phone with announcements, and software updates coming from all corners. There is no doubt that Windows Phone plays a huge role in the continued success of the company, and Microsoft have been trying hard to elevate their product to new heights.
The roll-out of Windows Phone 8.1 has been a huge success so far, with many in the tech industry claiming that the latest updates have brought the struggling platform up to par with both Android and the iPhone, and with two more updates coming to the platform before the end of the year, Microsoft are betting big on the platform finally taking hold in the elusive U.S market.