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Microsoft issues Windows Phone 8.1 SDK to developers

updated 12:47 pm EST, Tue February 11, 2014

Changes to multitasking, signs of merge with Windows RT spotted

Microsoft has started to provide developers with an SDK for the upcoming Windows Phone 8.1 update, according to reports. At the same time, a developer has allegedly started to list the updates found in the SDK itself, with the update apparently including signs that Microsoft is working towards merging Windows Phone and Windows RT into a single platform.

A limited number of developers are being invited to use the SDK, reports WPCentral, under a non-disclosure agreement, in order to gain feedback on development tools and to find any last-minute errors before its release. It is also claimed the public Developer Preview Program will be launched on April 2nd at Build, which will allow interested parties the ability to download the update earlier than the full release, albeit without device-optimized firmware.

When asked about the SDK, Microsoft said "We regularly involve our developer community in a variety of private programs. We have nothing to share broadly about our recent developer outreach."

Windows Phone 8.1
Windows Phone 8.1

According to The Verge, a developer has been posting images from the SDK as well as changes to the mobile operating system on Reddit. "Universal Apps" support, allowing Windows Store and Windows Phone Store apps to run from shared HTML and Javascript, is present in the update, which is a step towards the merger of Windows RT and Windows Phone. Apps on Windows Phone 8.1 will also run under the .appx file extension and format, something which is also used by Windows 8 apps.

Users may be able to switch their default messaging application for another, according to a screenshot of the settings menu. "Battery Power Sense" and "Storage Sense" will let users monitor their power and storage, VPN support is added, and the Music+Video app has been removed in favor of separate Music and Video apps. Multitasking changes will let an app suspend in the background, in a similar way to Windows 8, though there are apparently still some problems with its functionality, with apps able to be closed using a swipe downwards, also similar to Metro-style apps in Windows 8.

Other notable changes include an updated camera app, the removal of Facebook and the addition of iCloud to the accounts menu, and an upgrade of Internet Explorer to version 11. The rumored "Cortana" virtual assistant is absent from the SDK, but could appear in its final release.

by MacNN Staff



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