Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 11th Feb 2014 14:16 UTC

A lot of new features in Windows Phone 8.1 - to be released around April - are starting to appear. First and foremost, it seems Windows Phone is finally getting a notification centre, which was long overdue. Microsoft originally intended live tiles to replace notifications, but as someone who has used Windows Phone extensively, live tiles are annoying in that they don't always show the notification count, and on top of that, are generally too small to contain enough information, forcing you to go into the application anyway, defeating their purpose. It seems Microsoft has finally figured out that a notification centre is pretty much mandatory these days.

Furthermore, the private SDK releases reveal some more information, including some low-level changes.

The first significant change appears to be the initial signs of a Windows Phone and Windows RT merger. Microsoft has been hinting at this plan, and the SDK includes "Universal App" support with templates to build Windows Store and Windows Phone Store apps from the same shared HTML and JavaScript code.

There's more interesting stuff in there, like the ability to change the default messaging application, the back button will no longer terminate applications but suspend them, an improved camera application, and more.

All in all, it does look like a worthy update for Windows Phone users, but there's nothing in there that other platforms haven't been enjoying for years now. In other words, it doesn't really contain anything that gives the platform an edge over the competition or that makes it stand out. None of these features is going to convince an iOS or Android user from leaving their platform behind. Still, these are just the new features and changes extracted from the private SDK, so there's bound to be more stuff hiding in the shadows that we don't yet know about.

It's curious though that the preview SDK releases are private, something that was met with lots of complaints back during the run-up Windows Phone 8, since it means developers can't get their stuff ready before the release hits. Luckily, though, the new developer program does mean anyone can get the 8.1 update as soon as it's released.

I'm hoping my relatively old HTC 8X won't be left out of the loop, because this looks like a worthy update for Windows Phone users.

Permalink for comment 582918
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
Member since:

Let's be realistic - building a web-app is way more cost effective than building a native app.

Writing a shitty app is probably more cost-effective than writing a good one too, but that doesn't necessarily mean you should do it. Hopefully if you can write one version and have it run on 3 different form factors, that will entice more developers to do the right thing.

Desktop has no such issues and by now one crashing web-app does not kill the whole browser(all browsers today manage to have separate processes for tabs/windows)

So maybe whatever causes a browser to crash, or go into a coma (which mine do about once a day) isn't the cause of one specific app, but the end result is the same. And the only advice these browser vendors have is to re-install Flash, start up in safe mode, disable each extension one by one until/unless you find one that is causing the problem etc... a headache that wouldn't exist if more of these apps were native. It's like running Windows 3.1 all over again.

Reply Parent Score: 2