This morning at 8 AM ET, Microsoft officially pulled the veil off of the highly anticipated General Distribution Release 3 (GDR3), the third and final OS update for Windows Phone 8 before next year’s 8.1 overhaul. This comes just days after AT&T in the US began to push out GDR2 for current Lumia 820 and 920 users and the nearly complete worldwide launch of that second update.
Microsoft updates their mobile OS through a series of updates, called GDRs, which are akin to the Service Packs of Windows desktop from years ago. In addition to full OS updates, GDRs are meant to add fixes to the OS for bugs, bring new features to current users and enable new hardware options for their hardware partners.
Windows Phone 8 GDR3 8.0.10512, expected to begin delivery to current devices in the coming weeks, will bring many new features to current and future Windows Phones, including:
- Support for 1080p display for new devices like the Lumia 1520
- Support for new processors including Qualcomm’s Snapdragon MSM8974 quad-core CPU
- Close apps by tapping on the X on top right in multitasking view. The icon of the app appears below.
- Custom tones for text or IM, voicemail, email and reminders
- Better storage management: New storage settings make it easier to free up space on your phone and manage temporary files. A new category view shows what's taking up space at a glance.
- Screen Rotation lock: When auto-rotate screen is off, your screen will stay in the current orientation when you rotate your phone.
- Driving Mode: Turns of all notifications except texts and phone calls when you're driving. You can also turn calls and texts off completely or set Driving Mode to text and automatic reply like "Hey, I am driving right now. I'll reply you later." Driving Mode can start automatically when your phone connects to a Bluetooth device.
- Connect to Wi-Fi in OOBE when switching on your new phone for the first time or after you your reset your phone, so you can restore your data even before connecting to a cellular network.
Microsoft detailed the new OS update on their official Windows Phone blog, noting that a lot of the new features were driven by user requests.
Back in late 2012 and early 2013, GDR1 (also known as ‘Portico’) was released. That update brought new texting features, improved Wi-Fi and messaging improvements. Starting later in the summer, Microsoft and their OEM partners delivered GDR2, an update that included fixes for Xbox Music, ‘Other Storage’ and more.
In addition to the OS updates, Microsoft’s partners also deliver accompanying firmware updates that allow the OEM to further customize the OS and improve hardware support. Nokia has prominently lead these updates with their colorfully named firmware including ‘Amber’ (GDR2) and ‘Bittersweet shimmer’ (GDR3). Nokia’s firmware has enabled new features such as Glance screen, call + SMS blocking, flip to silence, double tap to awake, new camera options and more.
Microsoft expects GDR3 to launch in the “coming weeks” and to continue delivery in the coming months.
Updates today for developers
Microsoft is also announcing a developer preview program, whereby they can get early access to these updates, including GDR3. To qualify, you will need to meet one of these criterion:
- Your phone is “developer-unlocked”
- You’re a registered Windows Phone Store developer OR
- You’re a registered Windows Phone App Studio developer
Microsoft will give further details on their developer blog later today.
Source: Windows Phone Blog
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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.