Interactive phone covers, new resolutions coming to Windows Phone 8.1 Update GDR1

Although web sites and reporters often spill the secrets of companies, the best-kept ones get published by the companies themselves. Case in point is the revelation that 'folders' are coming to Update 1 (aka GDR1) for Windows Phone 8.1, which was accidentally revealed by Microsoft's website. Details though have been scarce about the forthcoming update, including what it contains. Luckily, Microsoft's Dev Center is filling in the blanks as we reported yesterday.

On Microsoft's website, buried within the Dev Center are two pages dedicated to the minor OS update. One page is 'What's new in the documentation for Windows Phone 8.1 GDR1' and the other just 'Windows Phone 8.1 GDR1.' Now, details from those internal pages is starting to trickle out.

The information is for OEMs, who build Windows Phone hardware, and as such do not articulate too many consumer-facing features, but changes that are rather more technical. Still, there are quite a few things revealed hitherto unknown about GDR1, including:

  • Support for 1280 x 800 WXGA resolution
  • Diagonal screen sizes of 6.01" to 7" are now supported for the 1280 x 768 WXGA resolution
  • 540 x 960 native qHD resolution is now supported in addition to the ability to scale from HD or WVGA resolution to qHD
  • Diagonal screen sizes up to 6" and on phones that use the MSM8x12 applications processor now support 540 x 960 qHD resolution
  • Dual SIM – C + G radio type is now supported for dual SIM phones
  • Bluetooth – PAN (personal area network) 1.0 profile, aptX codec support for A2DP, and browsing support for AVRCP are now supported
  • Support for a Store live tile when the tile is medium-sized
  • The size of the Store tile has been standardized for all layouts and some tiles have changed places on the Start screen.
  • Support for folders.
  • Enable a phone cover app to launch when the phone cover is closed and specify the default setting for the lock screen's auto unlock setting.
  • Cortana – Add a phone book entry for Cortana to allow users to initiate speech from a car that doesn't have support for activating speech on the phone that is connected over Bluetooth.
  • Network Time Protocol support – Automatically set the time, using an NTP client, in a Windows Phone device that doesn't support NITZ or when cellular data is not available.
  • Voice over LTE (VoLTE) support
  • OEMs can implement a custom lock screen
  • OEMs can preload the Files app
  • Added a note that all Wi-Fi Sense settings must be on unless Microsoft executive approval has been granted for specific mobile operator requests.

That is a massive (and only partial) list of changes coming to Windows Phone 8.1 GDR1. Many of those enable manufacturers' flexibility on making phones while others are sure to benefit consumers e.g. PAN 1.0 for Bluetooth, VoLTE support, and other minor adjustments like the medium Store tile. The 1280 x 800 resolution is for new higher end Windows Phones with software buttons, instead of the physical capacitive keys. Up until now, software keys were limited to 800 x 480 type displays.

Interactive phone covers let manufactures develop cases for Windows Phones that when opened, unlock the display, enabling easier access to the phone. Likewise, when the phone case is closed, another action can be initiated with the configuration found under Settings. Android phones, specifically HTC's new One M8 already has a similar feature called the Dot View case.

The question remains what, if any, consumer facing new features besides Folders are present. Typically, GDR updates are under the hood fixes, adjustments and additions, and that appears to the case here, with a few new features as well. The Cortana addition for car use and those without a Bluetooth system though is certainly a very welcomed (and highly requested) feature.

We are sure to hear more about GDR1 for Windows Phone 8.1 in the near future. For now, bookmark our super page dedicated to GDR1 coverage:

Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 – All you need to know

Source: Microsoft 1, 2; via NPU, WPCentral Forums;

Thanks, John K., for the tip!

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.