GDR3 Update 3 Windows Phone 8

Hands on video tour of Windows Phone 8 Update 3

Earlier today, Microsoft surprised the Windows Phone community by not only announcing all the new features in GDR3, but by announcing the Developer Preview Program. That just announced program allows developers and enthusiasts to download the latest operating system updates from Microsoft. In fact it was just a few hours after those announcements that the Preview for Developers app went live allowing everyone to download GDR3, which Microsoft is calling Update 3. Let’s check it out those features in Update 3 for Windows Phone 8. 

First off, if you’ve been following the leaks and rumors from the past few months around GDR3 you should know this wasn’t going to be a monumental update. You’re going to need to wait for Windows Phone 8.1 (a.k.a. Blue) if you want to have your socks knocked off. Instead, GDR3 was an incremental update, one that’s giving your current handsets some much welcomed features while at the same time preparing for the next wave of Windows Phone devices – those in the 5 and 6-inch range. Let’s first check out the features we get today on our current handsets.

Goodnight App

GDR3 Bluetooth Tones

Windows Phone has had multi-tasking since the Windows Phone 7.5 “Mango” update. By holding the back button you can see your most recent running apps. It worked reasonably well, but closing apps was a bit of a pain. You’d need to hit your back button a bunch of times to close out any running apps, not the best but it worked. Update 3 for Windows Phone introduces a few changes to that card view. First you’ve got the app icon next to the name beneath the card of the running app. Second, we’ve got a giant ‘X’ in the top right hand corner of the app. Tap that and you’ll close the app out. Simple and it works great.

While Windows Phone manages memory efficiently throughout the system, some of the more OCD among us like having the ability to close an app manually. It’s here and while others would have liked a gesture based solution like on iOS or WebOS, this is what we’re working with. As far as we know, this is how closing apps will work on any near future versions of Windows Phone, no gestures in sight. Honestly? Its fine and we’re digging the ability. Apparent you are too, it’s the most voted feature in our poll from earlier.

Ringtone for you, ringtone for her, custom ringtones for everyone!

Update 3 finally brings a feature users have been requesting for nearly three years now on Windows Phone – the ability to set customs tones for text, IM, voicemail, email, and reminders. GDR3 does that with aplomb and gives you the ability to set custom tones per contact. Just edit a contacts info and you can select your different tones for when they call or text you. For everything else, head into the ringtone and sounds section in settings and twiddle with what tones you want for your various notifications.

It’s a feature everyone’s been wanting and we’re glad to see it here. For example, you can bet mother-in-laws will be set to the tune of The Imperial March

Phone storage overhaul

GDR3 Phone Storage

The clouds parted, trumpets sounded, and the Windows Phone nation shouted together in happiness. Our Other Storage woes might just be a thing of the past. Update 3 brings improved storage management to Windows Phone. Check the video out above to see the process in action. The gist is that the phone storage section your settings has been overhauled. You’ll see a new graphical interface for how your storage is being utilized. Our favorite feature is scrolling down to the “temporary files” section, tapping it, and deleting all those files. Temporary files can accumulate on your phone over time and if you’re running out of space you can head there to quickly nuke them.

Don’t move

You’re lying in bed, browsing Twitter and click a link to a story you want to read. It opens in IE but the browser moves sideways. Wouldn’t it be nice if Windows Phone had an orientation lock to keep things from moving all over the place? It’s finally here, but it can be better.

Orientation lock is buried in the settings on your phone with Update 3. We would have preferred a faster way to lock or unlock our orientation. For example, placing an icon that you can toggle on and off in the volume controls would have been a nice touch. But at least it’s finally here. Hopefully they’ll listen to more of our feedback and improve functionality of this feature we’ve all been waiting for.

Driving mode, the most underrated feature in Update 3

GDR3 Driving Mode

Let’s first talk about Driving mode before I tell you why I think it’s usefulness is underrated. What’s Driving Mode? Check the video out above to see it in action, but basically you can have your phone ignore incoming calls and texts while you’re driving. While in Driving Mode, your phone can, as an option, sent pre-made messages to those trying to contact you. We’re big fans of NOT using our smartphones while driving, but we’re human and slip up from time to time. By using Driving Mode we’ll be less tempted to use our phones while operating a thousand pound death trap. It’s pretty slick how it works too. Driving Mode is enabled anytime it connects to a pre-selected Bluetooth device, like your car’s audio system.

But the functionality of Driving Mode goes beyond just keeping you safe while driving. I think it can also be useful in niche situations where you want to use your phone for things like music, but don’t want to be distracted by incoming messages or calls.

Maybe you’re studying for a huge exam or getting swoll in the gym, Driving Mode can be used to keep you focused on your goals. Maybe the Windows Phone team should consider not just driving mode, but different profiles you can select for your phone based on location, connections to certain devices, or any other situation you manually put your phone. That idea has some potential.

Various Update 3 knickknacks

GDR3 New Status Icons
New status icons layout in GDR3

Those things listed above are the main features of GDR3/Update 3 that we’re most stoked about, but there are other various things in the update that are useful. For example, you can now connect to Wi-Fi in the out-of-box-experience when you’re first setting up your phone. This is useful if you don’t have a SIM card in, but want to immediately get started with signing into your Microsoft Account on a new phone.

Update 3 also makes Windows Phone easier to use for those having a hard time hearing, seeing, and using Windows Phone. Various controls in the ease of access section of the settings have been improved for those needing them.

Internet sharing picks up some new features. You can now pair your Windows Phone with Update 3 to a Windows 8.1 device over Bluetooth, after that just select the network name and you’re connected. Easy as pie. We tried it out and love it on our Lumia 925 and Surface Pro, both running the latest software from Microsoft.

GDR3 for today and tomorrow

Abu Dhabi Nokia

GDR3 works on all Windows Phone 8 devices available right now and is important for enabling the next big change in hardware for Windows Phone. None of the handsets have it yet, but GDR3 enables support for 1080p displays. That’s Full HD and a resolution that’s expected to come to rumored devices like the Lumia 1520 and 929/1320. We’ll probably be seeing those next week in Abu Dhabi, but in the meantime GDR3 is what’s going to make those possible. Those large displays with 1080p will have the ability to display up to 6 Live tiles in a row, assuming you’re using the smallest Live tile.

Those new devices are going to need some new processing power, which is what GDR3 is also enabling. Windows Phone devices have always been powered by some type of silicon from Qualcomm in the Snapdragon family of Systems on a chip (Soc). The latest and greatest will be supported on Windows Phone because of GDR3. The Snapdragon 800 processor can currently be found on phones like the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and LG G2, but starting next week we’ll probably be seeing it inside the Lumia 1520. Specifically the MSM8974 model number, which is a quad-core processor. Bonkers.

That’s the future, one we’ll seeing next week in Abu Dhabi. We’ll be live from the Middle East to bring you the latest and greatest from Nokia and Microsoft.

That’s your look at Update 3 for Windows Phone 8. Sound off with your impressions below!

Have more questions? Need answers? Check out our dedicated forums on this topic!


Reader comments

Hands on video tour of Windows Phone 8 Update 3



They're alright really, WP8 is catching up at the moment. I'd really like to see a better music player or at least better metadata input/music matching. I'd also like to see Wi-Fi Direct support and Miracast support (this is a big one). integrated File Manager, all the features of PC  are currently, and only possible in Android.....THIS IS WINDOWS, IT HAS TO change. Microsoft has to get this in their head "shoot to thrill, play to kill"

I agree about the music player, Zune was better than what is currently on wp8. When they updated to 8, the player lost some functions. And agree on a file manager.

Owh there're so much more functional we are lacking on our phones. Which makes every small thing feel like happiness. :) Player could be way better i agree. A file manager, there was a program on my Nokia n97 called "explore" it was the greatest app in the world i spent so much time in it. Wish something like that would be introduced in wp. Or may be soon some sort of jailbreak could let the app like that be on this beautiful phone.

And where is the possibility to pin 6 small tiles on lumia 920? Or they will bring it with bittersweet shimmer? LOL now operation system is 2,4 Gb instead of 1.9 Gb. They've solved other folder problem;D

MS pulled on non 1080p screens I was really hoping for this on my 928. Hopefully they will revisit this in 8.1

Haha nice sarcasm. Just shift the other storage to a system files so nobody complains. But yeah i still have the other at 1.4 Gb anyway

Also about 6 tiles was the experimental anyway of course it would be nice to have it like in settings just flick a switch to use 2 mis tiles or 3 coz some of us(not me) would still like to have big sized tiles.

Any one having the issue with clearing temp. files?
It says "Deleting temp files.." but no space is recovered for me.

It says its a background process, so its not designed for immediate feedback.
I would imagine that right after installing Update 3, your temp wouldn't be that high.

Have you read the description? It is a background process, it takes some time and there is no guarantee it gets entirely or even mostly deleted.

Yes I hit it hours ago and my temporary storage is still the same... It can't possibly take that long to clear the files...

Really nice features, so looking forward to the "mother of all windows phone" announcement next week.

The next major update for Microsoft must be a revamp/update to the windows store both in design and quality. Apple, Google & Amazon stores outshine WP Store. We need a one-stop-shop for music, books, movies, tv shows, magazines, apps & games all within the store.

I found two new options under the cellular heading in the settings menu. They have to do with controlling and/or restricting background data use. Hadn't seen any mention of them on here, so I thought I'd shed some light on them...everybody enjoy! I am pumped about getting the update as soon as it was announced after having to wait for at&t to release the last one. I updated my 920, and then I did my girls 520 also, and they are both working perfectly!!

Maybe it came with the gdr2 update, I'm not sure since three came immediately afterwards, but my girlfriends 520 didn't have the two new check boxes under cellular unto after I put the 3rd update on it. Just trying to help, because they are most definitely there, and they weren't before I did there updates. I'm sure of it. I have a screenshot. I just haven't figured out how I can post it. No worries though! What matters is that we got our update in a timely manner. Everybody enjoy!

Any idea if music syncing has been improved?
Or does it still automatically mess up album info and cover art?

Not sure, but I have definitely seen improvements to the Music app. Songs load instantly, whereas before there was a bit of lag (because of the extreme size of my collection).

I finally got my music semi-straightened out with no duplicate music (or pictures). I'm afraid to sync my phone or copy music to it from the pc. Luckily, I have Xbox Music so I can download whatever songs I want over WiFi which is about the same speed. Still, it would be nice to know if I can safely sync with my computer again.

Man, loving my phone more and more. Don't know what I'll feel when I get 8.1. Go MSFT!!!

excitement, duh. :P
Though, multitasking could have been improved better (a small x, really? it should have been swype to dismiss like webOS or android) but that's nitpicking at this point.

But you know what, I absolutely love this feature.  I don't have to mash my back key to get out of a web browsing session.  This was such an issue for me since I had to use the website for my bank.  If you hit the back it tries to reload data that is no longer valid.  It's even worst if you just start web surfing.  You have to back out of every page you went to.  So you just have to keep mashing the back button to get out of the ap.  I think this above all the other new stuff is the best new feature in GDR3.

Will I get bittersweet shimmer OTA since I flashed my 920 to a French ROM to get amber and updated to gdr3 today?

Unfortunately, it's in AT&T's best interest to not update there phones so that people upgrade more often.

Kid's Corner is not the same. Daniel said it was in the video. It no longer takes on the password of your phone therefore it can be accessed without a password now!

It still needs a password on mine - and there's no where to set it seperately.
It won't prompt for a password if it hasn't gone over the timeout limit - but as soon as the main lockscreen needs a password, so does Kids Corner

Kid's Corner still works the same. My phone is unlocked, i hit the power key to turn off the screen, hit it again to turn it on, I swipe to Kid's Corner, kids play, kids hit power button and try to login 5 seconds later and are greeted by my lock screen password. Works like a charm. And my password lock is ser for 30 minutes.

I think that's a good idea. A way for them to polish it up, keep us happy, and ensure continued drooling.

Or they are out of ideas and want to give us notifications with bigger release just to "wow" us even though it was probably ready before GDR2.

Btw, Sony's Xperia Z1, Z1f and the upcoming Z2 (the real competitors to Nokias 1320 and 1520) also have the Snapdragon 800;) And I have a feeling the Nokia 1320 will also have it.

Lol, the L920 is light as a feather can easily use it one handed. Also if my little nephew that is 2 yrs old is able to hold it without complaining lol. Though not a big fan of pacifying kids with phones and tablets, my uncle pesters me for my phone when i visit as he is reluctant to give him his iphone. Kids corner for the win!.

I kind of don't get the histery about file manager - what will it be good for on Windows Phone? You cannot access OS files, you cannot access apps' files, only pictures, music and docs are accessible. And for those you already have an app.

I agree with overall organization. But WP will allow your apps to open their associated files. For instance, I have vba8 and it takes roms. As soon as I downloaded the rom via ie it automatically showed up in the vba8 app.

What if I want to download a file onto my phone, and then email it to a friend? I can't unless its a picture. Please show me how I can save documents to my phone and then email them to people? I can't work that out. :/

1. Open Office
2. Tap phone
3. Hold down on the file you want to send
4. Select email account
5. The rest is simple
3. Open file you want to send
4. Tap 3 dots
5. Tap share
6. Select email account
7 The rest is simple


Though you are currently limited to attaching one document per email (i don't have update 3 installed to check if different), as if you try to attach another the folder defaults to the pictures hub. Have to use something like skydrive to get around that.

Hey, you guys at WPC had mentioned attaching different file types in emails. Any clue if that really will be available?

That's available in WP 7.8 too. What I mean is can you attach multiple Office files in an email and from the email app, especially when replying to a mail.

AFAIK no, clicking "attachment" only gives you the option to attach a photo/image. That's kind of disappionting... :-( But maybe I am missing something?

WPC had reported that attaching office documents would be available in gdr3. I wanted to know if it is available in the preview. If not, then is there any information on whether this will be available any time soon.

Its not in this preview. I am hoping that and ability to use custom tones for apps too, comes in a final version!

It probably will made be available in the future update(s) for the preview, because for example the storage manager doesn't show installed apps management even though the description is there. So I assume there are going to be some additional updates before final version.

I have a feeling that this is what we will get.  Keep in mind that GDR3 is being released with the new 1080p phones.  That means it has to be ready before the devices complete the manufacturing process.  The new phones are rumored to be available in November, so they have to complete the first batch and have them shipped to the stores before they are available for sale.  I doubt there is enough time to distribute a new release and still allow all that to happen on time.

Another tiny but welcome addition is the fact that if you have "phone" as a filter on the song list, your phone will only add music downloaded on your phone to the now playing playlist . A good tweak for those like me who want to shuffle through music without worrying about the data associated with streaming.

I am really happy about the screen rotation lock! Haha, I use to have it on my Nokia N8, I wonder if at a later stage MS would release an update so you can turn it on or off for certain apps only? That would be really awesome :)

Sad thing is, Microsoft baked that feature from wp7. For some reason they didn't released it. So we all had that feature, Microsoft didn't allow it. Only Venue Pro had rotation lock in the history of windows phone before gdr3 came along.

99% of the times I have been swearing over the before non existing rotation lock has been navigating the OS, not apps.

I might actually use Driving Mode if it wasn't bluetooth only. I wonder why they didn't implement a "if plugged into the AUX port" as well like they have for voice texting.

Probably because there would be no way to identify a pair of headphones vs an aux port on a car stereo. Bluetooth has unique identifiers.

No, but it can read that something is plugged in. So when something gets plugged in then you can kick on driving mode. Cause it doesn't have to be just AUX, I'd like it for when I'm mowing the lawn and listening to my music.

I agree with you that it's a valid point, but I can see why they made it bluetooth only.
However, I have two solutions for you:
1. Pin driving mode to your start screen and manually enable (bleh)
2. Buy a Blackberry Music Gateway, pair it to your phone, and stop plugging your phone into a cable.  The gateway can be found on
For $50 you won't regret it.  I have one and love it.  Likely the only blackberry product I'll ever own.

no even kik doesnt allow in my windows 8 lumia 820. it only allows to record audio/video and sent. doesnt allow selecting the same from music player/gallery. ur kik allows now after gdr3 or since the gdr1?

You can share directly from the photo gallery now to chat apps. I share images from the gallery with WhatsApp. For some reason I can't with videos, but I think that has to do with WhatsApp and not the OS.

Joe Belfiore mentioned on twitter in response to Dr Pizza that making a rotation lock tile should be possible for developers. He said he was 90% sure.

Im very pleased of how Windows Phone has been doing, but damn! I was really hoping to be able to customize the notification sounds! Its a bit frustrating to hear the same sound when you get a message from WhatsApp, IM+, Twitter, Facebook, 6tagram, and any other apps that uses the notification service. Next update, perhaps? :)

Apps will be able to have custom sounds for toast notifications, but they will need to update the app to support that.

I don't know if this was present in GDR2 but in system settings > Cellular. You can tell apps running in back to turn off when roaming. I never roam but could be helpful.

It's forced ON, since you may not get to know when preview updates will be released, but you MUST want to know that for testing you apps :)

Rotation lock is. The. Best. Thing. Ever! Seriously, been waiting 2+ years for it...

Also wanted to use Driving Mode as a "night mode" so that only calls notify me while sleeping...unfortunately it seems to REQUIRE a Bluetooth device. a) don't have one, b) no option to manually toggle driving mode on while not connected to said BT device? I realize it's a preview...but I have a feeling that won't change with GDR3's official release...back to manually turning off vibrate, text sounds, email sounds, & "all other notification" sounds each night and re-enabling each morning :(

Thanks folks at WPCentral! I'm loving the update; closing apps is a lot easier now! And having a Zelda ringtone for my texts makes me happy! Yay!

lol, thats funny because I've been waiting to do the same thing. My old HTC Kaiser was Zelda themed. Custom colors, sounds, backgrounds, etc. Love those damn games.

I wonder, will any future update be able to allow me to share pics with an android device through NFC? Or will it only ever be from WP to WP?

You always could share photos through NFC! You have to turn it on both phone's! Android need's a app called beam download it and try.
I do it with my ATIV S (GDR3) to Galaxy S3 (Android 4.3) to ATIV S (GDR3) all the time!

Microsoft to show the Microsoft Surface Phone Lumia @CES 2014 be the first Windows Phone 8.1 device showed till WMC 2014 in February along with LG & Sony again.

Surface Mini & Pro Mini

For now be happy with GDR3!

Windows Phone 8.1 should be equal to Android 4.4 & iOS7.1 this February 2014! Apple will fall in 6 months to #3 spot!! ...WP8.1 #2

Why not?

Windows Phone @7% market share

iPhone @12% market share

There is only 5% market share difference now! iOS7 is falling and in February WP8.1 coming to destroy iOS7.1 with in 6 months! @10% in 3Q 2014.

They know it is not, but neither is Android or Apple OS (I refuse to call it iOS as IOS is for Cisco). Blackberry is the only remaining business mobile OS after WM was killed off. The consumerization of IT is almost complete as Blackberry draws its final breath. Yay touch screens, social media, videos and games!...

I've installed GDR3 on my Lumia 920.
Actually there are not so many interesting changes.
For me the most interesting one is the ability to close apps.
In my opinion MS should urgently clean up the settings menu:
It's really a pain to search for a specific setting there.
They should group it in the way it's done under iOS and Android.
And there are much-needed improvements to be implemented regarding IE (store passwords, sync with W8.1) and the music player!
I don't get why they introduce 'unimportant' stuff like the 'driving mode' first...

Okay this is confusing I thought Nokia was the one adding features to WP and such.
What is their "bittersweet shimmer" update going to have ? 

That's just still not good enough. These features should have been implemented since wp8 released

And sadly, most android and apple users would just be shocked how these basic functions only exist now

Actually most Android and Apple users don't even realize they have settings beyond putting up a background picture and maybe setting a ringtone for their loved ones. Maybe. Joe Schmoe doesn't realize their phone does more than connect to social networks, email, games, and play media.

Which are probably the same users surveyed - given Paul Thurrot from winsupersite was told most users use the home button to switch between apps by going to the home screen via the home key. Hence why the back button was going to be retired.

I am now running GDR2+Amber on my L920, and I'm a developer from DreamSpark, I wanted to update to GDR3, but then can I still receive OEM updates in the future? Can I still update regularly as if I'm still running Amber?

One tiny but awesome detail I noticed: now, when you tap and hold the back button for the open apps, try tapping the app next to the one you're currently in. It seems as if the animation was sped up!! :D

So there's no 6 row of small tile for 768 devices? I thought there'll be soe for 92x and 1020 devices also.

I've added a few .mp3 files for custom tones... But some don't show up. No reason I can see, they are just cbr 128s.