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You can pin individual settings to the Start screen in Windows Phone 8.1 Update 2

The Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL have been announced this week at MWC 2015, and they come with a newer version of Windows Phone 8.1. Other Windows Phone users are probably going to see the new features in an update called Windows Phone 8.1 GDR2. The changes are subtle, but make life a little easier. We've noticed the settings page received some changes, including the ability to pin individual settings to the Start screen. Watch our hands-on video to see it in action.

What we've noticed so far:

  • One page for all the settings.
  • Search for individual settings.
  • Pin individual settings to the Start screen.
  • App permissions

Microsoft has not officially said anything about GDR2 and has not provided any changelog. What do you think of these changes? Sound off in the comments.

Mark Guim is Video Editor at Windows Central. He switched to Windows because the MacBook Pro isn't Pro enough. You can follow him on Twitter at @markguim.

224 Comments
  • Nice.. I used to change my phone name from windows phone app for pc so this should be good
  • Yeah specially when sending files via Bluetooth to other Lumias.
  • Really excited for app permissions!
  • Yea.. This will come for pfd earlier than normal release right?
  • It naturally should be.
  • But what will happen when this update is out for pfd users and then w10 also gets available for other devices through windows insider?
  • Consider this update through Preview For Developers as a feature-fill for Windows 10, since Windows 10 is about to come by this year's fall, I believe. The Windows Insider Program does not have any conection with the PDF
  • This is the official update for WP8.1 users ( which you can choose to get early with PfD), it has got nothing to do with the Windows Insider program or its compatible devices. There will be update(s) to 8.1 till W10 is 'officially' released.
  • Yeah. I'm curious about that too. I'm both a Windows Insider and a Dev, so I'm curious as to what I'll do when the OS update comes.
    I already have W10 build 9941 available, so I don't know what'll happen when GDR2 comes as well. 2 OS updates available... I'm not sure...
  • It's no different from the desktop. For example if you're running Windows 8.1, you'll see updates applicable for Windows 8.1 only, but you'll never see Windows 7 SP1 or Windows Server 2012 SP1 show up in the list of updates because they're different versions of the operating system.
  • Then I guess there is no use of gdr2 once w10 is out for the rest of the devices.
  • Yeah, but my phone has WP 8.1 GDR1 installed, and Windows 10 build 9941 already shows up under the update list. When GDR2 comes out for PfD, both GDR2 and W10 will be acetylene for me.
    I have no idea how I'll get one installed and not the other, or if I'll even be able to.
  • Lots of questions lol.. Somebody clear them properly!! Or maybe we should ask Gabriel about this?
  • I already did.
  • I hope
  • Agreed!
  • What is app permission?
  • You can also change the name in the explorer of your PC...
  • Also the "All Apps" written all the way bottom right instead of just the arrow.
  • Still thigh, why is it so hard to alphabetically order them???
  • Uservoice. Use it.
  • Why bother when they are categorised in GDR2. Not only that but they don't put them in alphabetical order because they put the frequently used ones at the top.
  • Nice
  • One page for all settings? Is it not this way already?
  • Swipe right for Applications
  • Ahh yeah, I get it now, so the carrousel style is really making an exit, I've trusted Microsoft for a while now, and while they have let me down 1,094,338 times in the past... They've amended everything and exceeded my initial expectations every time :)
  • LOL @ JoRdaNek
  • You mean pivot
  • Piivot! Piiivooot!
  • Uhhhhhhh
    No
  • You have two pages right now. Settings and Appications. It'll be all in one long list on GDR2
  • one continuous unorganized and unalphabetized list?
  • did you even see the video? do you at least try to use your brain? I know i shouldn't waste my time with clueless people like you, but if you see a video there are "categories", the first being "Network+Wireless" and then Personalization... etc also if you try to use your brain, you should notice alphabetical order wouldn't work, because if I switch my phone from English to Russian, to italian and then french, I don't want to scroll up and down looking for the setting, I just want it in the same place. I don't have to find the wireless and network settings in another place. so please again, if you are going to comment, at least try to see the video.
  • Thank you, but I wasn't commenting on the video.
  • Then why bother commenting at all?
  • The question is not why, but how.
  • well, at least you can pin the ones that you use most to start screen then put them in one folder!  
  • You forgot categorized and grouped.
  • Also - you can quickly jump between subheadings by clicking on one (similiar to how you can click a letter in the App list and People hub jump lists). :)
  • EXACTLY THIS. You guys should edit the video to note that. That makes this long list thing a lot more accessible and reasonable. Surprised to see you missed that in the video.
  • Start screen...
  • Yeah, they're busy over there, got lost in translation. Fixed.
  • It will be nice to pin audio settings so I don't have to scroll all the way to the bottom of the settings list.
  • +1520
  • You red my mind
  • Funny, it blue my mind
  • haha it pink my mind actually LOL
  • Humour so dark, a policeman probably shot it.
  • Scrolling to way bottom is better than searching for settings in middle of list like Driving Mode
  • Not if it isn't the last item. Think its around 5th or 6th from bottom. I always pass it going either way at least once.
  • Seems faster
  • Isn't GDR2 too little and too late?
  • Rhetorical question, right? This has been asked literally about every software update in the history of software. I'd still rather have it than not, plus GDR2 is likely to come through Preview for Developers. No firmware needed.
  • Any ETA for GDR2?
  • Btw I noticed one thing and not sure if its so for everyone else. I had to uncheck the box for enabling the preview in the pfd app to get the denim update! After it got installed in the extras+info app it showed Lumia denim. I enabled the pfd and it now shows Lumia cyan!!
  • You still have Cyan. It's a bug. A well known bug.
  • No, I was straight serious. If W10 is looking at Summer 2015 release, would GDR2 really make it mainstream before that? I liked it when it was thought, there is no GDR2 and we get W10 in summer, because they are "focusing their development for W10". Now, it just feels like those two dudes working on GDR2, could have instead worked on icon set for W10, maybe?
  • We have no idea what's under the hood in GDR2. They must have deemed it important.
  • Remember how long it took to get 8.1 GDR1 and Denim firmware out? Windows 10 will likely be out on new handsets this summer, but it will be a few months after that for existing devices to get the official (non-PfD) W10 update, assuming their carriers don't skip/block it. I get the impression that 8.1 GDR2 will be like Windows Phone 7.8, a minor but helpful stopgap before the next major version (only without the unpleasant fact of being completely unable to upgrade to the next version).
  • How can W10 be on new handsets this summer, when clearly there's so much work left to do on it?
  • Exactly lol...those two dudes haha
  • I think he was making light of the fact that W10 is scheduled to come out soon and GDR2 probably won't get out to most users by then.
  • W10 will not be out before fall 2015. I di not expect to see much happen between now and the release. That just would nit make much sense.
  • What about those not in the pfd? There's ought to be some firmware update, right?
  • But when is it coming??
  • I didn't speak to any representatives, but my guess is that it will be some time in the future
  • Dont expect it well before release of Windows 10 for Phone. Historically that is how it has happened. When one update is shown / announced, you are still waiting for last update!! If you get it well before that..... that would be a good luck :-)
  • Hahaha.. You owned it sir :D
  • Haha good one Jordan!
  • Thats a million dollar quest., as of now!
  • yeah. when is it ciming? i hvnt receivd it yet :/
  • I'd wait if I was you, then it'll probably come in the future :P
  • Cime*
  • Just a thing you just missed out... In the video instead of the simple arrow on the bottom of the start screen it shows All Apps....
  • Yep
  • Pretty lame. Looked better as a simple arrow.
  • A usefull feature
  • Developer Preview right away please
  • What is app permissions/
  • Why don't they just allow ability to toggle permissions per app? Click on an app ...tell it what it can or cannot do. You can do this with rooted Android phones and it's so useful. 
  • Isn't that exactly what was shown in the video? There were toggles for each app, for the different kinds of permissions it can have.
  • Curious if anybody knows if there is a difference between the whole approval / rollout process with smaller software updates like this and full OS *with* firmware updates. I have a Lumia Icon through Verizon. We all know the U.S. carriers (especially Verizon) tend to be slow and non-communicative with updates for their Windows Phone users... but is this kind of update--not being a major firmware update--usually as slow in the delivery, or do updates like this usually not take as long? Any insight?
  • Also, I'm not an expert on updates, so if this actually implies a newer firmware update, just let me know.
  • The carrier considers them one in the same in terms of update cycles, so it could be a varying amount of time. Better off using developer preview for just software updates.
  • Yeah, wasn't sure how that worked... Icon has Denim so it made me wonder... Will this come with Denim who have yet to get Denim and, if so, maybe it doesn't require a firmware update and that might make it faster. I'll just wait and see... We Verizon customers have learned the art of waiting :)
  • It's just an OS update from MS so should be relatively faster than the Denim rollout. But also you could just sign up for PfD and get the update way before time.
  • Historically, the OS updates have been released with a new firmware... So the update might come with Emerald or similar.
  • And yet we dont even have gdr1 on att's lumia 1020; what a fail by microsoft and its 'partners'    
  • That's not a fail on Microsoft or their partners... that's the unfortunate situation with CARRIERS.   Carriers worship iPhone that's why they get an exclusive pass, Android and Windows unfortunately have to wait for updates.
  • So Country Variant is locked now? I didn't know...
  • fail by Microsoft? you decided to buy a branded and locked phone on ATT and it is Microsoft fault? next drop $500+ to buy the unlocked/unbranded phone and stop complaing about your Carrier blocking updates.
  • Fairly sound advice, but the US "Country Variant" of the 1020 is also currently on 8.10.12393.890, same as the at&t version. Availability in North America  
  • I take it this update will still be with Lumia Denim? No Lumia E (whatever colour they pick)
  • Enigmatic black, eccentric white :D
  • Or Emerald?? :)
  • Or Eggplant?
  • Or Erotic?
  • Can edit name onto the phones :D soo i don't need to connect my Lumia to my netbook
  • Please show the extras+info, mark..
    Is it Emerald?
  • Highly doubtful we'll see another firmware update before W10. Actually I'd be surprised to see a GDR2 rollout to other devices.
  • Its Denim
  • When'll it be coming to the dev preview?
  • When when..urgh have pateince mate.
  • is GDR2 will be avaleble before win 10 ??? lol
  • I think the app permissions are great. But I'd really like to restrict access to Photos and Videos. I rarely install an app that needs access to Photos as they are my photos.  Clearly if I was into Instagram or something it makes sense, but for a free Calculator or something, it makes no sense. Hopefully Microsoft will grow the permissions in Windows 10.
  • Please update windows central app. Viewing images is very poor experience with it. No tap to zoom. No smoothness. No good place for this comment. I would do everything here myself even LOL.
  • When did searching for individual settings become a new thing? I've always been able to do that. Does that mean I've had GDR2 since I bought my original 820?
  • The search button. See the bottom of the 640 XL while he scrolls through Settings.
  • Downloading now!!!!
  • In dreams ...?
  • Yeah, plus windows 10 RTM
  • I wonder what will be the name for GDR2 firmware. Sure it will begin with E ;) Daniel what it shows under extras+info ?
  • No evidence for GDR2 firmware. Just an OS update.
  • GDR2 is MS update, no Lumias. So, no E or any other letters whatsoever. :)
  • Thanks :) I am quite happy with these small features added in windows phone 8.1 updates ;)
  • App permissions I did not understand it can anyoone tel me
  • no :D
  • What is App permission?  
  • What is app permissions?
  • Seems that it will be a nice update after all! Meaning, it wasn't ment to came out at all. :)
  • Windows 10 TP will probably be out before this update. So...
  • I love this!
  • Cool, ​the action center can be removed, Microsoft's mistake is corrected. Hope they release the update soon!
  • Um... I'm pretty sure the majority of Windows users love the Action Center.  It's probably the most used feature for me in addition to the Start screen.
  • I guess your glued to your phone 24/7 and don't even sleep? :P.
  • Wen in India???
  • I like this change. It shows a maturity in the WP OS.
  • We need more accent colors and make an option to create a custom accent color.
  • When is it coming for pd
  • Some people are still waiting for Denim...
  • There's also an option to edit phone name ( if anyone noticed) which is not present in wp 8.1 update 1.
  • Awesome, would like to have the audio leveling pinned (currently have it stuck in a settings folder). Now, let's push it to PFD.
  • Excuse me!what is app permission?
  • Giving apps permission to send your data to the NSA
  • Owned !
  • Is it called Lumia Emerald or not ? Pls clarify it asap :P (i am curious what it says in the extras+info page)
  • No... this is not a firmware update.  The colours are for firmware updates to Lumia's... this is an OS update (GDR2)
  • Exactly and people told me I was wrong for saying that Denim was a firmware update!!!!!
  • the next name is windows 10 for phone,windows 10 mobile or whatever..
  • The next name is Windows 10.
  • App permission control is great!
  • Great, another 6+ months of "when in xxx" in every article......
  • Why aren't these features currently in Win10 Preview?
  • Because it is a preview of Win 10, not a preview of WP8 plus new stuff.
  • dont know im kot able to update my phone to denim. L720 india.
  • Hmmm... Hope this gets on Preview For Devs soon. Feels like WP is getting really fragmented. It isn't MS's fault per se, but they need to put more pressure on carriers.
  • have you noticed how much screen space is wasted due to 2 rows of buttons (navigation buttons and search button) on 640? once again say NO to onscreen buttons
  • When they will release it as DP ??
  • I kinda like this update but....HATE that "All apps ->" with that androidish arrow.(cant believe myself that i turned into someone who acuse wp turning in android). also, whats wrong with ms? they look like they cand keep beeing consistent lately. so they add icons on settings and everything on W10 but remove out of a thing air an icon from the start, an icont present here from wp7?! thats a retarded move. so is the idea to add more text on the start screen as if the tiles aren't already filling it with text and icons.
  • Did you notice that you can edit the name of the device from windows phone to something else, initially that was only done with a PC
  • Good.
  • Finally
  • when's it coming?
  • Are the settings headers actually jump lists? They behave like that when scrolling and that would make this redesign even more useful.
  • YES the are jump lists :)... if you see when he scrolls, the current subheading stays at the top.  That's a jump list design, none of the other list controls have that design.
  • Still waiting for denim and gdr2 has come out lol
  • GDR1 also runs under Cyan, I had it on my 930, the only difference you get with denim, is the updated Lumia camera, nothing more!  
  • I mean pinning settings was a no brainer that should have been in 7, which a student worker could have implemented in 5 minutes, providing unique URIs for all settings, including custom ones. Talk about missing the boat.
  • All settings can be pinned to start? Have been waiting for this for a long long time. The inability to have a shortcut switch for led light on the keys is very much a pain
  • Well when we gonna get updates?
  • I noticed that settings had a new option called "USB" under system.
  • It was present since 8.1 (Cortana search brought it up), but seems to be revealed now. Would this mean OTG on the way?
  • I'm very well aware of that. It was hidden in 8.1, but it was gone from the search in Update 1. Searching for it now gives you a empty result.
  • I can find USB in my 730's settings
  • Hidden for older Lumias because they don't support it. Newer phones with Snapdragon 400 & 800 chipsets have that USB option in settings but it's not related to OTG.
  • ^ correct. my 535 also have the USB setting and indeed it is not for OTG
  • The USB settinfs have two options as of present; one is for informing if a lower capacity charger is connected, other is for switching off mass storage mode when connecting to a pc
  • The USB option is present in phones that were released with wp8.1.1 preinstalled, for example, in the Lumia 535, 730 and this whole x3x series.. Its just not present in phones with x2x series, for example in my Lumia 625..
  • Nifty. I would certainly use a "Pin to Start" for "Start + theme".
  • I need Windows 10. No GDR2
  • That's it for GDR2 update practically? Wow... Impressed.
  • Create a folder with plenty of features in settings.
  • I want to connect my Logitech BT keyboard, like, yesterday. Could anybody at MSTF be a darling and head down to the basement of the ex. wp team and hit the button that says update PFD for Windows Phone 8.1? Thnx in advance.
  • This is the problem with WP "starting over" again with W10.  Rather than continue to work on the same build you have some resources working on W8 and others on W10.  Android and iOS have been working on incremental updates to the same OS year after year.  Might not be the dramatic jump offered by W7>W8>W10 but its certainly more efficient.
  • Is Gdr2 in Lumia 520?
  • No, not yet available.
  • First give denim for 630 in India
  • And also for 625... :D
    And they said, all phones will be on denim by feb end.. *sigh*
  • Mark - You forgot to mention the subheadings are jump lists... i.e. when you click the subheading, it shows you a list of all the subheadings and you can jump down to that heading.  Similiar to the All Apps jump list and People hub jump list when you click the letters :)
  • The real qus is "wen in india" :D
  • I want them to ask that question about Ebola.
  • No need for Ebola here..
    People are already dying of swine flu these days.. So thanks, but no thanks.. One epidemic at a time please..
  • for people who been waiting for Denim and still havent get any.. any reason to be excited about this? Lumia 920
  • THIS IS HUGE! What it should have been from the very beginning 5 years ago.
  • very useful feature
  • Kinda pointless since we will get a refreshed settings app on Windows 10. But, it's still refreshing.
  • So the Status Tiles app will be obsolete. I couldn't update it because I got it when it was free through MyAppFree promotion.
  • not entirely. that kind of apps will still have their place because they show live status of the pinned setting. PS: yea, i have the same problem with Status Tiles too
  • Would prefer the new categories to be a top horizontal scrolling-thing still, but this is an improvement either way.  Really like the pinning feature, still one of Windows Phone's coolest and unique features.
  • But that would be consistant with a sort of Settings Hub concept, and we know the hubs concept can't be the right way to go since no other mobile OS is doing it. /s
  • Good
  • Nice.
  • So guys, if you tap a section header, does it show an overlay with all the section names, so you can quickly jump to a specific section? Like months in the Photos app?
  • The app permission option is GREAT!! So is pinning settings to the start screen but I don't really mind going to All Settings for that :)
  • are these tiles to settings merely links or do they also provide live tile counters and info like the current data consumption en memory info that you can pin in 8.1?
  • But when can we have the possibility to give NFC more rights, the way Android have?
    I bought some NFC stickers, hoping to make life more easy with some stickers to activate/deactivate Bluetooth and other stuff. But when you must approve the command in every sticker you scan, it's only annoying!
    Will those rights come in GDR2?
  • not a nfc expert, but wasnt nfc whitelist added in some kind of a previous update?
  • Microsoft should use this menu scheme for windows 10
  • I like these changes.  But MS, you can be a little less "industrial" with the icons on the desktop if you are going to allow those things to be pinned to the desktop.  A gear for Phone Update?  You can do better than that.
  • So will there be preview for developers for it as well?? Lumia denim still not in my lumia 720 india! Pls help
  • I noticed the 640XL has a big space below the capacitive buttons than the 1520 and my 930. Whats that empty space for?
     
  • The Bezel, which IMHO is pretty stupid considering the buttons are on screen.
  • I'm worried of hearing " Lumia 52X/62X/72X won't get W10 but will get WP8.1.2 "
    MS is saying ALMOST all the lumias will get W10.. So that says, NOT ALL the lumias gonna get W10
  • My personal opinion is, updating the specified models to Windows 10 wouldn't be a good idea. I myself own a Lumia 720, and I am very much aware about it's performance and limitations. So, I think Windows 10 would be a good choice for these models. I am happy to use WP 8.1 on my 720.
  • How to update wp update 2 in Lumia 535
  • I had to disable the Dev Preview on my phone to get the latest updates But realy excited by these features
  • ok.... I don't want to be annoying but.. Why have we to wait for simple things we could have years ago ? :P
  • Well, simple answer. YOU should have come up with the ideas years ago and designed it, then we would not have had to wait :-)
  • Can the DNS be changed?
  • App permissions, very nice. Been wanting this for awhile. I'd also like to see it extended for controlling what apps can use cellular data, access location, and access the file system. I also love that you can rename the phone from the device itself, useful for those who lack a computer.
  • Nice! Just last night I was trying to pin one of the settings to my home screen. I was able to put that setting in Action Center but this is a welcome change, looking forward to it! It's also nice to see that your able to change the device name on the phone! Things can get a bit tricky, having 3 Windows Phones, and trying to figure out which one is which on the Windows Phone Store website.
  • You can edit phone name thru the screen shot above instead of having to connect it to a pc and change the name via desktop
  • I would've preferred them to keep the pivot but add more categories but being able to pin individual settings is great. The "all apps" instead of the clean simple arrow is lame though. No reason to change that.
  • Is it out for other devies too specially the HTC ones or just for Lumia 640s? I dont see any updates on my HTC device as of yet. Someone fill  me in maybe?
  • That 'All apps' thing with the arrow looks terrible. How difficult is it for people to understand the meaning of a simple arrow like the one in 8.1?
  • No specific icons for each tile?
  • My 930 CV DK just got a new OS build pushed to the phone. WOOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Its updating with the gears, but I took a screenshot before I released the update.
  • GDR 2 ?  I'm still waiting for GDR 1.
  • One thing I begin to hate about the all new Microsoft Lumias is the navigation keys that are inside the screen. This should be available outside the screen as these were in previous Lumias. On-screen navigation keys make the look of Lumia more ugly as compared to the off-screen navigation keys. They have done a very decent job in creating the design of Lumia 435 & 532 but if you look at the Lumia 535, it's body seems to be of very low quality. I thought to buy Lumia 535 but when I used it, I didn't find it worth buying so I went back to my previous model which is Lumia 720. Microsoft should look at this matter.
  • Really nice! If they added the keyboard from W10 to GDR2 I would potentially not even bother going to W10! Unfortunately, I'm really looking forward to the cursor/pointer...
  • Hmm... I dont think I like the tiny text and lack of pivot menu.
  • Nokia Lumia 620 (yes, six, two, zero) had a single HAAC microphone that enabled mono Nokia Rich Recording, i hope the 640 and 640 xl have it to.
  • Anyone know how big this update is?!
  • When is it available??