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Windows Phone 8.1 update introduces new resolutions, smart covers

updated 02:00 pm EDT, Mon July 28, 2014

Dev Center notes on GDR1 outlines technical changes, options to enable smart covers

It appears that a list of technical and some minor consumer changes are coming for the GDR1 update of Windows Phone 8.1. While the information is currently only available to those with an account to Microsoft's Dev Center, data was obtained showing that some important changes are coming - including new resolution support, options to allow smart cases, and a few ease-of-use options.

Reported on by WP Central, the list of changes is on the long side for the GDR1 update. The number of updates that a Windows Phone user may see is small, but the number of changes in the background should improve the overall experience. Developers also get some new flexibility, such as adding custom lock screens and preloading the Files app.

One of the biggest changes is in how the Windows Phone operating system will handle different resolutions, with support added for 1280x800 (WXGA). The catch is that it renders it at 1280x768, and adds "pillarboxes for the unused pixels." Screens from 6.01 to seven inches will now offer support 1280x768 as well. Support for a native 540x960 (qHD) resolution is also being added, for scaling from HD or WVGA to qHD.

A neat feature coming in the update is the ability to support smart cases. In the notes, it's stated that a phone cover app can be enabled to launch whenever the cover is closed. It can also allow users to specify the "default seeing for the lock screen's auto unlock setting." This could allow for a number of interactive cases by Microsoft or third-party developers, in the same vein as the HTC Dot View or the LG QuickCircle.

Some of the technical changes could be important for travelers, as dual SIM -C+G radio types have been added for phones already capable of carrying two SIM cards. Cortana, the Microsoft version of Siri, is getting a small tweak as well that allows users to create a phone book entry in a car system that doesn't have voice-activation Bluetooth capabilities. Voice over LTE (VoLTE) capabilities, something that a number of US carriers have been rolling out, are being added as well.

The new features in Windows Phone follows news that folders would be added in the upcoming update. WP Central reported on the new feature after Microsoft accidentally posted a support page entry on adding and renaming folders. Within the page, it was stated that the 8.1 update would need to be installed to use the folder feature.

No timeline was indicated in the developer documents, but the update could happen as soon as next week or sometime into August, according to The Verge's sources.

by MacNN Staff



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