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.

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What about....
by jnemesh on Tue 11th Feb 2014 18:26 UTC
Member since:

VPN support? Task manager? File manager? Still sounds like they have some catching up to do!

Reply Score: 6

RE: What about....
by hdjhfds on Tue 11th Feb 2014 18:31 in reply to "What about...."
hdjhfds Member since:

VPN support? Task manager? File manager? Still sounds like they have some catching up to do!

Since the last update, there's a rudimentary task manager. At least you can end tasks.

And there are file manager apps on the app store. But to be honest, they don't have access to the full file system. So they are of limited use.

I agree, there's still substantial catching up to do.

And the brain-dead search button does not help a bit.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE: What about....
by Nelson on Tue 11th Feb 2014 18:44 in reply to "What about...."
Nelson Member since:

VPN support and a File Picker are in 8.1. also WiFi Direct and Geofencing.

The most significant change is that they have finally unified the XAML stacks across Windows Phone and Windows. Its all WinRT XAML now.

This makes it even easier to share code across the phone and windows itself.

Reply Parent Score: 3