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Microsoft adds phablet support to next Windows Phone 8 update

updated 10:14 am EDT, Mon October 14, 2013

GDR3 will work with Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor in future

Microsoft will be adding support for phablets in the next Windows Phone 8 update, among other new additions. The third general release update for the mobile operating system, also known as GDR3, will pave the way for Windows Phone devices with five-inch and six-inch displays, and will be taking advantage of the higher resolutions by allowing the Start screen to show up to six Live Tiles across instead of four, as well as scaling up existing core WP8 apps.

The next version will add support for the quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, writes the official Windows Phone blog, along with improvements to the connection quality with Bluetooth accessories, and Wi-Fi access out of the box. Storage management will apparently make it easier for users to free up space by showing what is using the most storage and to remove temporary files, while the App switcher will quickly close apps when they are not required.

Internet Sharing, an existing feature that turns the smartphone into a mobile hotspot, has been upgraded to apparently make sharing a connection with known devices easier. If a Windows 8.1 computer or tablet is paired with the phone over Bluetooth, tapping the network name in WP8 will now automatically set up the wireless network, without the need to enter passwords nor to manually turn on Internet Sharing.

A new Driving Mode will set the smartphone up to provide limited notifications on the lock screen while the car is in motion. When connected to an unspecified Bluetooth device, possibly an integrated in-car system or a GPS unit, WP8 will show relatively few lock screen notifications, such as for texts or calls, until the car is parked, in which case it will automatically revert back to normal. It can also be configured to automatically send replies via text to callers, advising that the vehicle is in motion and that they will be contacted later.

Mobile Accessibility is made up of a number of apps, designed to make phone usage and navigation easier. One example given is for a screen reader, which allows for the blind and visually impaired to send and receive text messages and e-mails, use the Internet, make or receive phone or Skype calls, and alert to important notifications such as low battery warnings.

A screen rotation lock option and custom ringtones are also touted for the new version.

Microsoft will start rolling out the update to devices in "the coming weeks," though specific release dates will vary between carriers and model of smartphone, and will continue for several months. Registered Windows Phone or Windows Phone App Studio developers will be able to receive the update onto "developer-unlocked" devices tomorrow.

by MacNN Staff



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