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Windows Phone 8.1's separate volume controls exposed in new screenshot

As we get closer to Build in April, it’s probably not too shocking that more leaks of Windows Phone 8.1 will begin to drip out.  Today, we have a simple screen capture revealing separate volume controls.

While the text in the image is in Chinese, we can explain better what exactly is shown in the screenshot.

Confirmed 8.1 volume controls

The first slider is for ‘Ringer + notifications’ while the second slider is for ‘Media + apps’. Heading to the bottom, the left icon is a toggle for Silent mode, and then on the right we can find cog icon that takes you to the sound settings page. We're also told that this controller won't appear every time you want to alter the volume, but rather it is context dependent. For example, if you're in an app, changing the app volume (as opposed to ringer volume) takes priority.

The source of the image is WPbar, based in China. We have been able to confirm with people familiar with Windows Phone 8.1 that it is indeed, authentic.

Separate volume controls is one of those seemingly simple additions to the OS that will go a long way in improving the user experience. Currently, Windows Phone 8 only has one ‘master’ volume control, which will change levels for notifications, games and music in one fell swoop (users can also set it to vibrate or none).

As we discussed on yesterday’s podcast, Windows Phone 8.1 will have a few big features, like ‘Cortana’ and a notification center, but the OS will also have improvements on every other aspect, including the keyboard, backups, VPN and more.

While separate volume controls are in and of itself not groundbreaking (we’ve reported on their inclusion numerous times), it’s great to get a peek at the dropdown menu coming in 8.1.

Windows Phone 8.1 is expected to be revealed in April during Build, with new hardware landing in June, give or take a few weeks.

Source: WPbar.cn; via WMPU

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

365 Comments
  • PTL
  • Most needed feature
  • Now for swype :) (only thing I miss from my week with Droid)
  • And symbian had swype too D:
  • WM had swype lol
  • Yes, I love swype!!! It almost feels old school, dinosaur-ish to have to actually type on a phone or tablet after using swype!
  • What's the big deal with swype? I find it had do believe that its possible to type faster that way.
  • Well. Swype isn't exactly about being faster than traditional tapping. But it does make typing faster and easier only using a thumb. I'd like a functionality like that. Maybe Microsoft should buy Nuance before Google, Apple or Amazon does.
  • It's not a big deal but it most a deal...it makes easier and faster to type + a lot of features...
  • The windows predictive text is the best in the world i have had other phones but this is one fo the best features that i have never previously used becasue it was so hit and miss.It would be nice to have swype to play around with but it is not necessary at all.
  • Swiftkey > Swype 
  • @CX1...PTL...you in the church?
  • Captain?
  • But, where's the music controls❔❔❔❔❔
  • "Apps and media"...
  • They are probably not playing any music. 
  • Right.. I forgot that it doesn't show any controls when music isn't playing... I always have music playing,, so I never see them. Lol❕
  • Thank the lord and the baby Jebus, about bloody time!!!
  • Swype please! It is awesome.
  • Swype is a hoax. It's not that much faster, or more precise.
  • Awesome... Could it be that MSFT is starting to listen?? Lol
  • They've always listened. They're just slow. There's a difference
  • And slows not always a bad thing, could mean their polishing the features to be released
  • I sure hope so
  • Yup. but MSFT should come out with something superior  than other platforms .no more catch up game!!
  • You do realize that each new release goes through a ton of testing before carriers approve it, right? It's not remotely sane to try and do that every few weeks. Not to mention it's barely been over a year since the last major release, and only a few months since GDR3. What would you do differently if you were in charge?
  • I agree with both of you to an extent... I can see the regular steps/updates responding to the peoples wants/needs, but I think Microsoft needs to take a leap instead of steps now (like Nokias 41mp camera) which gets the whole world saying "WOW!" ...Not in every update, just one... and soon.
  • Well Said!
  • Amen to that!
  • It doesn't matter that it's been only a year since a major release, it means nothing until there is feature parity and it is taking WAY to long just for that. We should be getting excited for new features not getting closer to what iOS and Android already offer or have offered for quite some time.
  • It will have been 18 months when 8.1 comes out...
  • You do realize it's not just about the number of updates, but also how comprehensive they are? 3rd update got us orientation lock, it took 3 updates since the OS update/refresh/release to get a basic feature and we will have to wait to 8.1 to get separate volume profiles and other basics. How do you expect a platform to compete when there is a wide basic feature gap. The only way you can close that gap is by improving more often than your competition, so either increase the frequency of the udpates or make each update larger in scope.
  • +920
  • You said it!
  • This man speaks the truth!
  •   I think he was not just mentioning about windows phone 8. He was mentioning about the phone OS developed by Microsoft started from the first 'smart phone' released which was pocket PC (dead), Windows Mobile (dead), Microsoft Kin (dead), Next windows phone? How many years does Microsoft involve in the mobile industry? Yep, from 2000 with the first release of pocket PC smart phone. It has been 14 years they are in this industry compared to the other major competitors like lagdroid and icraps. 
  • And I've yet to receive GDR3...so fucking stupid. Why can't these guys be like apple, full control over the updates?
  • I hope they reconsider the extra tiles for smaller screen devices!
  • For small screens make it a option so the user can pick if they like it or not. Microsoft would make more people happy that way.
  • Now with alarms can we finally edit snooze time? I mean come on basic stuff.
  • This man speaks the truth!
  • +920!
  • Yes I want that too. ATM I have to set several alarms to wake me up ._. A changeable snooze time would be the cure :P  
  • Never! Only 5 minutes. Microsoft doesn't want you to miss your big meeting. You can thank them here: @Microsoft #ProtestantWorkEthic
  • 9 Minutes ;)
  • Yeah, 9 wtf is that?
  • Seriously. That was an awkward number.
  • I wrote an alarm clock app for WP and I looked into this. Turns out it's because of the inaccuracy of early mechanical alarm clocks. Because of the gearing, the engineers had to choose between a little more than 9 minutes or a little more than 10 minutes. They chose 9 minutes and it's been a de facto standard since. Of course, you can customize the length in my app: http://www.windowsphone.com/en-us/store/app/1alarm/d78b754c-b76f-496c-83... ; )  
  • Yeah, I noticed that because I set both my regular alarm clock and my phone. When I hit snooze on both at the same time, they both go off at the exact same time. Weird. Lol.
  • Probably because the alarm automatically goes into snooze mode after ringing for 1 minute, so combine with a 9 minute snooze it becomes 10.
  • So, It's a wrong programming.
  • Probably that they hooked up the button to the same piece of code that runs when the alarm has timed out, rather than another section of code that actually calculates 10 minutes when you hit snooze. Simple fix.
  • It's weird seeing your entire name as a display name unless that's your alias. Ever worry about Identity Theft???
  • There are plenty of people who use their full name online for all profiles. I am quite privacy-concious and refrain from posting truly personal data. But my full name is ok. Your name is your brand, so you may as well use it! :)
  • I work at a bank and all I need now is his date of birth to retrieve additional personal information. I mean to each his own Nik but I would never put myself at risk like that.
  • Well I never put my date of birth online, for one. To be fair, allowing access with just the date of birth is pretty low security for a bank. If I want access to my bank account over the phone I have to provide my full name, date of birth, selected digits from my password, details about my recent online banking logins and transactions, and sometimes details of other services I have with the bank. These details are hidden to the CSR so they can't see anything either unless I provide the correct information. If I can't verify then they will stonewall phone access to my account until I visit the bank and provide multiple forms of photo ID.
  • Lol if you say so...
  • Are you telling me that poor security on the part of your bank is ok? Or that I'm incorrect in my knowledge of the levels of security my bank has?
  • All I'm saying is that identity theft doesn't just involve your current bank accounts or the level of security of your bank. (Some of) Your information can be easily be compromised by typing your name in any computer that contains your information. Whether it be medical, financial or social you can then be narrowly found by your date of birth. If you honestly think that I can't find you especially if you bank with us then you are mistaken. Am I right???
  • sure thing Darwin Henriquez, i see you are incredibly concious of this too. It's just a name, you can't get my bank information from this.
  • I think what he's saying is that because he works at a bank, if you banked with them and he had your full name and date of birth that's all he needs to see all your personal info (I'm guessing so they can then ask questions to verify your identity). Which in my opinion is a terrible level of security; that means I have to not only trust the bank but also all its employees if I'm to use that company.
    No CSR should ever have easier access to my info than I do. The access system should be automated and randomised so that the system asks the CSR random questions that they need to then get me to answer to unlock access (things such as 'what is the 3rd and 8th letter of your password', 'when was your last transaction and how much was it for', etc). That's *basic* security for banks in New Zealand, and I would never use the services of a company that is as insecure as the banking system Darwin uses.
  • Not just a bank Nik but any business you have an account with. Obviously there's consequences for tampering with anyone's information & I for one wouldn't risk it. All I said it was weird seeing someone using their entire name as a display name but to each his own. What a creeper exposing my name like that but I'm not upset.
  • Agreed, and that's why I will only use a company I'm secure with, and I will leave any that I have found to be using bad practices (a few have come to light recently that I have closed my accounts with and requested destruction of my data). I get what you mean, but there are plenty of others using their first and last names on the internet, many of whom are likely more attractive targets than I am. All the authors of this site, for example. As I see it my name is my brand. When you have an online presence, especially when you write a blog or wish to be influential in your area (programming is mine), you need to think about your brand and how it comes across to people. A real name is very genuine and welcoming, whereas a username is closed (and in my industry, usually used by hackers). If you want to become known in your field you need a brand (in my case my name), and when you commit to a brand you need to represent it well. For me that means using it everywhere, making sure I conduct myself well whenever in public, and also being careful about which services I use and who has the significant 'keys' to unlock my private data. The only exception to my 'use your one brand' rule is when I develop software, as I launch it under my label so I can also build that brand. However I always make sure my name is prominent in the 'about' section and any supporting documentation or online material. In terms of 'exposing your name', you can't really complain about that because your Twitter profile is the first result in a Bing search for your username, and your first and last names are at the beginning of the page title.
  • I am. I have a form of identity theft protection which won't guarantee prevention of fraud but at least I'll know when it happens. I see you don't have my middle name lol
  • Ok, I still want a longer snooze.
  • 23 minutes :D
  • Wait till next year   ®
  • Yeah, I could do that on my old Symbian Nokia E71 back in, what, 2007?
  • One of the things I like about WP is the fact that I can fine tune the ringer volume with 30 steps. Having only 10 steps would be a downgrade :(.
  • +30
  • That is a really good point; this is specifically important for music.
  • Only problem is step 1 is ridiculously loud for the lowest volume.
  • +1520
  • Yeah, this is true, it feels like there's no real difference in the bottom handful of volume options.
  • LOL. Totally agree. 
  • Cannot agree more
  • Look at the image... media and app volume are still 30 steps. Call volume has always been 10 steps, ever since WP7. The change is that Ringer and Notification volume now also appears to use a 10 step scale. IMHO that makes perfect sense.
  • I gotta gree with Ringer and Notifications being the same level. That way you can have media playing quietly while your ringer still alerts you to new calls.
  • The only other independent volume control is the one when connected through Bluetooth audio. Once unpaired your phone returns to whatever setting it had prior. Would be nice to kill text notifications when connected to Bluetooth audio though. Hate having a song interrupted by "message from 40404"
  • Can't you turn that off in settings? I'm pretty sure you can ignore texts and calls from the driving mode which in theory should act the same for any Bluetooth device.
  • You're a damn genius sir...ma'am.....ShadowShataan. Found it in driving mode.
  • This is gonna be amazing :)
  • While this is great and long awaited, how about a fix for the voicemail volume when being checked via visual voicemail.  I can't stand how I have to crank the volume pretty much all the way up just to hear the message then immediately turn the volume all the way down to appropriate levels.
  • That's probably on your carriers end.
  • This has really been my only complaint on volume controls. Hope there is a seperate control for visual voicemail. I hate having to turn the volume all the way up just to hear these messages.  I usually just end up calling my voicemail number and listen to them there instead.
  • I hate that I can't skip or skip back on the voicemail. Sometimes I just want to skip to the most important part (like phone number or address). Hopefully they address that.
  • Doesn't sound like a Windows Phone problem...
  • It is...the visual voicemail uses the "master" volume control. So if I have my volume set to 0/30, and I try to listen to my visual voicemail (through the earpiece, not speakers), I won't be able to hear it, unless I crank up the volume. 
  • Yep, I hate this. Just make the visual voicemail the same as the in call volume. It seems so obvious.
  • I absolutely agree!!!
  • About time! Very happy to hear this :)
  • Awesome   I cant wait
  • Too bad none of this coming anytime soon.
  • Coming in April with WP8.1... How much sooner did you expect it?
  • AT&T will have it in September then?
  • I don't know if they are still doing it, but do the free developer unlock through the app studio and hopefully get to take advantage of the upgrade in April. No need to wait on the carrier. Nokia specific changes may have to wait on the carrier but I've been on GDR3 for months and it didn't take ATT that long to push out Black.
  • It's being announced then.  Most people won't actually have it on their phones until likely end of the year.
  • April is only 3 months away
  • 2*
  • True. It's so close!
  • Yeah, and when did GDR3/Lumia Black first start rolling out? Yet I only just received it yesterday, some people still haven't.
  • Get the developer preview app and you'll be able to download the updates as soon as they are released by Microsoft, bypassing your carrier.
  • We got 10 !
  • Lol, first time I've seen a rumour with 10/10 .
  • +1. Same here
  • Its happening.......!
  • I was going to say the same thing.  Normally anything about a 7 is gospel.  10/10 is crazy!  I think it should be posted as news at that point
  • Love the "roasting hot rumor" banner. Ha
  • Me too!
  • Lol
  • The only feature I desperately want from WP in regards to audio stuff is gapless playback
  • NEVER going to happen. Sorry.
  • Why, does apple have a patent for gapless playback on mobile?
  • LOL
  • They have their own audio format that you need to use to get gapless. It's a flaw of the MP3 format that you can actually never achieve true gapless playback without a cross fade.
  • Oh, never heard that explanation but kinda makes sense. I would think Microsoft software engineering can bypass it thought. Comeoooooon Microsoft research
  • Yeah they could at least provide crossfade. But it requires the app to be changed and allow two audio files to be mixed rather than just one. Same thing for gapless MP3; MP3s always have gaps at the start (it's to do with metadata being at the start that causes gaps that can't be removed) so it get rid of this the app needs to start the next track while the previous one is still playing and analyse the audio to find the best switch point. So 2 streams at once. And even then it's hard to find the right point if the audio is quite soft at the time.
  • Interesting. You sound like an expert on the topic. What do you do for a living? Or just a hobby?
  • I wouldn't say an expert, but I'm the kind of person who when coming across something like that studies it out of curiosity and an insatiable desire to know how things work :)
    I originally came across it when WinAmp was big and there was a plugin that was overcoming the same issues. And then much more recently when I was lead developer on a web-based game that needed looping gapless audio, and I had to study and report on the viable audio formats.
    In my day job I'm a web developer (mainly server-side because I hate browser-side incompatibilities), and after hours I'm a mobile/tablet apps developer in the Windows ecosystem (lots of half-finished projects, few actually released though :) )
  • May I ask what sort of apps do you make?
  • What? I have gapless playback on my old 80gb iPod classic, and the music is encoded in mp3.   It's done via software in iTunes. Also, the open source Rockbox software enables it, that you can load onto most Sandisk and old iPod models.  
  • Yes they have it, but it's technically very difficult and not actually 100% accurate. In the case of the iPod, iTunes scans all the tracks and identifies the switching point and in advance and stores the metadata in the track database that goes to the device.
  • iTunes uses padding information stored in the track metadata, which is 100% accurate and reliable as it's put there by the encoder which has perfect knowledge of how the track is encoded. Only if that information is missing will iTunes scan the track itself for padding. This will generally only be the case for tracks that were created by a very old encoder. Reputable encoders have stored the gap information in the track metadata for quite a few years now.
  • AAC is not Apple's "own audio format". AAC, like MP3, is an international industry standard open for licensing by anybody. It just happens that Apple is the only major music retailer that decided to use AAC rather than MP3. Being a newer format than MP3 and thus able to use more advanced coding techniques, it was deemed to provide better audio quality than MP3 at a given bitrate. Neither AAC nor MP3 is inherently gapless. Like most lossy audio compression methods, they leave a small amount of silent padding at the beginning and/or end of the track. The is one reason why you get a gap between tracks: naive playback software simply plays the entire compressed audio file, including that silent padding between tracks. To address this problem, encoders started to record within the AAC/MP3 file information on the exact location and length of the silent padding. Less naive playback software reads this information and uses it to play back only the actual audio data and skip the silent padding. Apple went a step further than this. iTunes can do gapless playback even of files that do not contain gap information (this is often the case for really old MP3s). When it loads an audio file without gap information, iTunes itself will analyze the file to determine the size of the gap. I don't personally know of any other players that do this. Like other modern operating systems, Windows Phone (and Windows 8) provides audio playback services to applications. If an application wants to play an MP3, it no longer has to understand all the complexities of decoding an MP3 file: these days the OS knows how to do that. Basically, the application can just say to the OS "play this audio file for me" and then forget about it. The problem here is that Microsoft's OS audio playback service is crap. It doesn't use the gap information to skip the silent padding, but the real problem is much worse than that: even if the files being played are themselves perfectly gapless (WMA Lossless, for example) the playback service itself *always introduces a gap between each individual file handed to it*. Android used to have this same problem. In Android 4.1 they added a new feature called audio chaining to the OS playback service, allowing audio files to be chained together without a gap. Any music applications that has been updated to use the audio chaining feature can now offer gapless playback on recent versions of Android. These Apple and Android examples prove that it's perfectly possible to offer gapless music playback. The problem is that Microsoft just doesn't care. In 28 years of Windows they've never once written a music player that does gapless playback, and there's no reason to believe they'll start now. This is the single biggest reason why I sold my Lumia and bought an iPhone.
  • I agree with tanglewood's "NEVER going to happen" - at least, it's never going to happen in Microsoft's code. After waiting many, many, MANY years for them to get their music playback act together I've finally given up. The only way Windows Phone is going to get gapless playback before hell freezes over is if someone writes a music player that does its own audio decoding. This is a hugely more complex and difficult task than writing a music player that uses the OS playback services.
  • "including backups"... Please Daniel, game saving backups???? A made a list with things that I didnt anyone (almost) speaking about with things that I hope to become in WP 8.1:
    1. Ghost Notifications
        This is just a rumor but would be great to be able to directly pass some notifications to the Notification Center.
    2. Picture Password    Just Like Windows 8. 3. Manual check for Updates / Automactly Install Updates Option
        Jut Like Windows 8. 4. Start Screen Sincronization    The position of the tiles. Between WPs and also restared via a previous backup. 5. Saved Games Backup 6. Share/Search Settings    An option too choose wich apps I can use to share/search. Just like Windows 8 does. 7. More Quick Notifications    Currently the limit is up to 5 apps. Would be great to have more quick settings, and you could acess them just just rolling this area with quick notifications. 8. Silence Notifications    Just like Windows 8: options to choose a spectime time to not recieve notifications/push notifications and also a period (1h, 2h etc) to do that to. 9. Battery Sense    Something like