Third Windows Phone update supports 1080p screens, quad-core CPUs

Windows Phone 8 logoIn a double whammy of Windows Phone news, Microsoft has officially announced Windows Phone Update 3 and has started a new scheme by which developers can get access to firmware updates even before their carriers have approved them.

The third update will expand Windows Phone's hardware support while offering a range of software improvements. The big-ticket hardware item is support for 1080p screens and quad core Snapdragon 800 processors. Nokia is expected to unveil a new 1080p handset with Update 3 next week.

Windows Phone 8 GDR3

On the software front, there are no new APIs for developers, but there are a bunch of features for users. Driving Mode will disable most alerts and notifications whenever the phone is paired to a particular Bluetooth device. Internet Sharing will be enhanced—pair a phone to Windows 8.1 by Bluetooth and the PC will be able to turn on sharing just by connecting to the phone's network, with no need to enter the password or take the phone out of your pocket to enable sharing.

At last, an option to disable screen rotation is being added, as are a bunch of custom ringtone options. Apps will now be closable from the app switcher. And the initial out-of-box setup can now be done over Wi-Fi as well as cellular connections.

The entire operating system is also being made more accessible with the addition of screen-reader software and other additions to make things easier to see or hear.

More than a year ago, we reported that Microsoft planned to give Windows Phone enthusiasts access to firmware even without the approval of their carriers. For more than a year, the company has been silent on this. Now it has spoken.

Windows Phone developers will be able to install Update 3 shortly by using this app on their phones. The app requires Update 2 to be installed already, and to be eligible for the update, either the phone must be developer unlocked or credentials for a paid-up Windows Phone developer must be used. Developers taking advantage of the scheme will get the core operating system parts. They won't get OEM-specific pieces, such as drivers, until Update 3 is officially rolled out to their handset, and there won't be any ability to roll back to Update 2.

The update won't remove carrier branding or other restrictions, but it could potentially void your warranty or carrier support for the device.

This is an important step toward enabling developers to actually test their applications on the operating systems that their customers are using, and as such it is a very welcome change.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: Microsoft, OSes, Windows Phone 7

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