Developers leak Windows Phone 8.1 SDK, reveal new features

For our full coverage, head to Windows Phone 8.1 SDK leak - All you need to know!

Windows Phone 8.1, codenamed 'Blue', is a forthcoming major update for Microsoft's mobile platform. While we're anticipating an announcement at the company’s Build 2014 conference in April, with new hardware arriving in June, already Microsoft has released the SDK to developers and we're seeing some leaks appear on Reddit, pointing at a handful of new features in the 8.1 update. 

The leaks published by developers who have early access to the SDK show signs of further unity between Windows Phone and Windows 8.1, which Microsoft has previously hinted at. Both JavaScript and HTML is touted as being supported for app development, enabling developers on the desktop+tablet OS to bring across compatible content for smartphone consumers to enjoy.

Some obvious changes have been jotted down, including the rebranding of SkyDrive to OneDrive, not to mention the ability to set up and configure connections to Virtual Private Networks (VPN). A number of other changes have reportedly been implemented in the SDK, making multitasking easier with the removal of "X to close" and allowing users to swipe down on each app tile (much like Windows 8.1) – the back button no longer closes apps, but suspends them.

New File Picker

Here's the list of features noted by the developer with Windows Phone 8.1 SDK access:

  • NEW Audio/video transcoding, Hardware accelerated
  • NEW Media editing:  audio and video; Audio effects, video effects; Slow motion video
  • NEW Apps can capture audio/video from themselves
  • NEW Stereoscopic 3d support
  • NEW Wi-Fi Direct, a Wi-Fi standard allowing direct peer-to-peer connections over Wi-Fi without an access point
  • NEW Windows Phone 8.1 apps won't run on 8.0 devices until they upgrade
  • NEW Documentation confirms ALL current Windows Phone 8 hardware to get 8.1
  • NEW Dev tools: SemanticZoom, DatePicker, TimePicker
  • NEW PlayTo support
  • NEW Single sign-in for apps (like on Windows 8) with Microsoft Account; sign in will persist across devices + apps with permissions prompt
  • NEW YouTube Player (see lede image) including HTML5 video support (video playback doesn't have to be full screen)  And you get custom UI, so YouTube Closed Captions are in
  • NEW File picker (see above image)
  • NEW Geofencing API for location-based reminders
  • NEW Background tasks: Bluetooth signal strength, Chat message notification, Device connection change, Device use trigger, Gatt characteristic notification, Location, Push notification, Rfcomm connection, System event, Timer
  • NEW Slide down to close apps
  • NEW Navigation bar color selection
  • NEW USB choices
  • NEW Updated camera layout, similar to Windows 8.1 (see photo below)
  • Back button doesn't terminate the app
  • No more XAP, instead APPX
  • VPN (Virtual Private Network)
  • OneDrive (previously SkyDrive) with integrated file browser (just like Windows 8.1)
  • Filter through installed apps by usage/install date
  • Select multiple tiles when customising the Start screen [FALSE]
  • More efficient multitasking
  • Ability to install apps on inserted SD Cards
  • Internet Explorer 11 improved with WebGL and Normal mapping support
  • Separate volume controls for ringer, media, etc.
  • Bing smart search (similar search system as Windows 8.1)
  • Xbox Music and Xbox Video as standalone apps instead of the Music + Video Hub (allowing more updates to be pushed)
  • Redesigned Xbox Game Hub
  • Twitter integrated more deeply into the contacts Hub 
  • Facebook account option REMOVED (updated)
  • Quick settings access (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth) by doing a quick swipe from the top of the screen 
  • Action Center accessed by doing a full swipe from up to the bottom (separate from the Notification Center)
  • Silent notifications which go directly to the Action center
  • Possibility to mark a Live Tile as read by swiping from the left of said tile
  • Auto-updates for apps (just like Windows 8.1)
  • Better backup functionality
  • Improved keyboard
  • Bluetooth 4.0 LE (to non-Lumia Windows Phones)
  • Feature to mirror Windows Phone screens to TVs and/or monitors

Things not included in the SDK:

  • Cortana
  • Action Center + Notification Center
  • new gesture-based keyboard

A final interesting note is how Windows Phone is referred to as WinPRT.

We haven't been able to confirm the above list, so be sure to take each entry with a grain of salt. That said, it's looking likely Windows Phone 8.1 will be an impressive update, bringing across much anticipated functionality. Reddit user DDReaper compiled the sweet list, taking everything from other threads and bundling everything in a easily digestible experience.

Source: Reddit; thanks to everyone who tipped us!

Camera App

New camera app layout

New: USB Connections, Nav bar color, swipe down to close apps

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds is Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

1000 Comments
  • The new Youtube player makes it all worth it :D
    Edit: also, what's WebGL? I see it mentioned all the time, but I don't understand its purpose
  • Seems its worth waiting ...but hard to wait for dese bundle of features cmin up . May microsoft give suprise dat when de announce the update instantly its available on the servers ...!!!! :)
  • Well, you can always get it on time via the developer preview program.
  • Can we make phone calls with windows phone 8.1? They didn't mention it.^^
  • I don't think they will release it before their upcoming event. Also there an article over on the verge that says they will be releasing an Android phone....I hope Microsoft isn't dumb enough to let that happen, but if so, I hope they will be releasing the surface phone prototype they were working on as a plan B. I don't understand why they won't because the don't have any support from cell phone manufacturers outside of Nokia. HTC & Samsung are just appeasing them, not really supporting their devices, so what do they have to lose by releasing a surface phone?
  • WebGL (Web Graphics Library) is a JavaScript API for rendering interactive 3D graphics and 2D graphics within any compatible web browser without the use of plug-ins. WebGL is integrated completely into all the web standards of the browser allowing GPU accelerated usage of physics and image processing and effects as part of the web page canvas. WebGL elements can be mixed with other HTML elements and composited with other parts of the page or page background.[3] WebGL programs consist of control code written in JavaScript and shader code that is executed on a computer's Graphics Processing Unit (GPU). WebGL is designed and maintained by the non-profit Khronos Group.
  • Lol I could've looked that up on Wikipedia. I meant what benefits will it give us compared to not having it?
  • WebGL can bring the use of video streaming support with html5, which right now ie10 does not support it.
  • Wrong ;) IE10 does support HTML5 Video Streaming which btw is a completely separate API. It so far however openend videos in it's own Windows. With IE11 on WP8.1 it seems to open the videos directly in the browser which should help with implementing a custom YouTube App based on HTML5. This however is in no way connected with WebGL. WebGL could get interesting for browser based games. So far it is not widely being used. It's more about future proofing than anything else if you ask me.
  • Yeah, not really. WebGL allows for interactive and hardware accelerated 3D content on web pages, without requiring any additional plugins. For example, Nokia uses WebGL to render 3D buildings on their maps website.
  • Not sure what you mean....  IE10 does support HTML5 video (progressive streaming).  However I'm sure sure there are some enhanced filters on top of html5 video that are only supported in WebGL.
  • Well, it will let you browse and use web sites made using WebGL.
  • I could be wrong but i think google maps and bing maps use it for 3d rendering and things
  • I remember coming across WebGL incompatibility as one of the reasons Google gave for the Google Maps website not working on WP. But it started working soon after, so we all know that's not true.
  • Something like: http://www.unrealengine.com/html5/
  • WebGL also means the quality of the hardware you're running on can affect the experience you have with regard to graphics rendering in a browser.
  • 3D online games through browser like in PC
  • Great news! WebGL = support for the new Photosynth 3D
  • Is this used for "truly wireless" charging?
  • http://lmgtfy.com/?q=webgl   or   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WebGL
  • Or you could just put in the second link and not seem like an asshole.
  • Well it's actually a kind and funny way to show people what they can do by themselves. You on the other hand, qualifying me as an asshole, are kinda rude. But that's ok, I forgive you, you're just the product of the internet.
  • It's not funny, it's mean. Don't pretend to be the better person because I happened to use a mean word.
  • Oh hey Ezhik, Regards from Facepunch~
  • No. It's not. You chose to feel offended. There is absolutely nothing that can be interpreted as mean, except if you feel yourself stupid for not having used google yourself. I use this link with a lot of people, coworker, its a funny reminder of how to seek information, its actually usefull. You want to be offended, that's your choice, period.
  • Well it's just irritating and mean. Just linking to Google in the first place is not that nice, but this takes it to a whole new level. You could just say that OP should've searched or something, instead of linking to some mean website.
  • Man.. You're repeating yourself, you're just stuck. Get over it already.
  • Trying to paint me as the bad guy instead of defending what you did won't work.
  • Oh no, not the bad guy, just the saaad, sad embittered guy, so empty that he might at any time turn into a black hole which would suck up every once of humour in this world.
  • What's the humor in taunting people that just so happened to ask a question? 
  • Just shut up already. you lost.
  • I am a mere fanboy surrounded by an army of other fanboys. I can't ever win.
  • To be fair, the effort it takes to put in a link that says let me google that for you (which has been done to death, and isnt funny at all.) is about the same as just posting a helpful link. Its not offensive, but everytime I see someone post it, I can't help but think, you're a dick.
  • You've never seen "lmgtfy" before? I think they even might have a Bing equivalent. It's a funny, snarky way to reply to lots of things on the internet. Don't take it too hard. It's the internet! Laugh, keep the site in mind for next time, and use it on your friends and coworkers.
  • Hell, everyone else needs to lighten up. I only called a person an asshole! Don't take it too hard, it's the internet.
  • Because, internets!! (am I doing that right?)
  • You're not allowed to have opinions on the internet!
  • cannot handle you're own medicine eh?  than why mock this person if you cannot take you're own medicin!
  • When did I ever send anyone to LMGTFY?
  • and it is halariouse, lighten up bud, and take a chill pill! its not the end of the world lol
  • Did you know that I can type mean words without being angry?
  • Here, take this game as a good example. Hopefully we'll be able to play it on our phones after the update.
  • they should Make IE seperted Just like xbox music and videos so they can update IE with better service.
  • I wish they would allow 3rd party browsers so we could get chrome and firefox on WP. As much as I like IE, most websites aren't developed for it (at least not the mobile version). Most websites are coded for webkit which seems not to be a standard...
  • Good grief! Chrome? Firefox?  WHY?  Those both suck extremely hard.
  • Extensions and cross platform support with syncing.
  • I like FF for the most part. The excellent add-on support is the main reason why I use it.
  • Ahahahahahahahahahaha
  • I don't want to be that twat but, Shut up please. Your opinion is too disturbing to read.
  • [quote]Most websites are coded for webkit which seems not to be a standard...[/quote] This should be enough reason to not support webkit at all!
  • They do allow them, and there are a few in the store for free...
  • 3rd party browsers as in allowing the 3rd party browser low level API access to the OS. Currently 3rd party browsers just ride on top of the IE trident engine. So it's basically IE still...
  • Isn't that what Apple does as well?
  • But Apple uses the WebKit engine, which is the exact same engine used in google chrome in pc/android, therefor, they only need to make a skin and you have a fully funtional chrome