(UPDATED x3 ) WP 8.1 Features Leaked; Full Announcement Expected April 2nd

| February 11, 2014 | 74 Replies

DSC01526As the inevitable release of WP 8.1 comes closer, we’re learning more and more about the upcoming features; the major one of which is the Action Center that was leaked a few days ago. Now as Microsoft have begun sending out developer builds of the SW we have a whole new slew of information to get excited about.

wp81leaks560px The new features are:

  • VPN Support
  • Battery Power Sense (think Data sane, but for battery tracking)
  • Ability to change the default messaging app (like the ability to change the camera app).. oh the endless possibilities if this is done right
  • OneDrive
  • Separate Music and Video hubs
  • A new podcast app (hopefully available globally)
  • Apps can be installed to SD cards (option to be disabled as well), appears to be called “Storage Sense”, screenshot below.
  • Better multitasking (more like windows 8), where the back button freezes apps in the background rather than ending them, meaning that we should be seeing a lot less loading times.
  • The new SDK includes “Universal App” support with templates to build Windows Store and Windows Phone Store apps from the same shared HTML and JavaScript code, which is the first step towards RT/Windows 8 and Windows Phone merging together.
  • New Camera UI
  • Swipe down to close apps
  • Improved Youtube player in browser
  • navigation bar color options
  • Geofencing API for location-based reminders
  • 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
  • Auto updates for Apps
  • File Picker
  • Deeper Twitter and Facebook integration
  • Select multiple live tiles

The developers have also noted that access to the Bing search area is currently restricted, hinting that it’s due for a proper overhaul (fingers crossed for universal search), there was also no sign of the virtual assistant “Cortana”, but we’re confident that it’s coming and Microsoft are just keeping that one close the chest. The full reveal is expected to be at the Microsoft Build conference on April 2nd, so not much longer now.Β Win81_File_PickerBgMumYNCcAAxcb6




Some other changes that are included in the build:

  • A new camera UI as seen in the screengrab with the top bar for lenses, flash, front / rear camera selection, while the bottom app bar switches between a single photos, video, and a burst modeΒ new
  • Revamped Youtube player in browser, where videos can actually play in the webpage (without going into full screen)
  • Close apps in the multitasking view by swiping down

Update x2:

Courtesy of Reddit we now have a screenshot of the Battery Sense, as well as the “swiping down to close” in action, both very welcome features. We’ve also heard that the full announcement of WP 8.1 will be on April 2nd, at the Microsoft Build conferenceΒ so expect to see the rest of the OS debuted there (including the refined Bing search, Cortana and more).

Update x3:

Other features also include:

  • navigation bar color options
  • Geofencing API for location-based reminders
  • 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
  • Auto updates for Apps
  • File Picker
  • Deeper Twitter and Facebook integration
  • Select multiple live tiles


Via TheVerge, WPC, Source Reddit (gone now)



Category: Lumia, Nokia, Windows Phone

About the Author ()

Hey, my name's Ali- Currently a fifth (and final) year Dental Student from Chicago; studying in Jordan. I love all sorts of gadgets almost as much as I love my cookies! Be sure to follow my Twitter handle @AliQudsi and Subcribe to my Youtube for the latest videos - no pressure. Thanks.
  • v.s.i

    With the just-leaked WP 8.1 news, and with an Android phone on the horizon, it really does seem like someone wanted to get rid of Nokia D&S in time. Because today finally looks like all the stars had just aligned.

    Oh well…

    • Marcel D. Juhnke

      Could you elaborate a bit more on that?

      • v.s.i


        See, I’m pretty sure the Nokia X will be a hit.

        1 > There are still lots of people for which the brand name means something, but now they also have the word ‘Android’ on the priority list somewhere, too. It’s useless to iterate how much an Android Nokia phone has been hypothesized, and how many people have shown an interest in. The target? ‘Potential, technologically-unsavvy customers’, Nokia’s eternal clientele. Theory of cognitive dissonance, if you will. πŸ˜‰

        2 > It will surely sell more than the Ashas is replacing, at least. So, there’s an income source which was never tapped in time, although sources previously mentioned they had the (much more sensible) option of shipping this OS back in 2012 (but Smarterphone was chosen as a base instead).

        3 > Really the only hurdle is the price. Again, if people paid $100 for a Nokia running on generally-unproved platforms (AshaOS or WP), it’s quite easy to infer they bought it for the brand. With the wealth of Android apps, and with cheap components to boot, the Normandy should be even cheaper and more functional (featureful) than the 501 or the 520.

        On the other hand, see, MS have had the development plan for WP all along. Judging by the new update, it’s pretty clear they are also aware of WP 8.0’s flaws. The time interval between availability of 8.0 and 8.1 will be enormous, presumably in the range of 18 months.

        Common-sense question: why did then MS, knowing WP had so many holes to plug, not release more substantial incremental updates, instead of then mimicking discontempt with the sales level, after not even 1 year of WP8?

        Oh, why did MS not warn Nokia not to go ahead with the whole WP7 fiasco, if what the kernel transition meant had already been known long in advance? What’s the reason for the existance of the glorious USA-reentry show-star Lumia 900, which by the way was infinitely uglier than the 800, other than to perceptibly tarnish the company’s reception?

        OH… did you ever think why 8.0 used the same UI framework but with a different kernel, but now 8.1 uses the same kernel with a different UI framework? Did you ever wonder why 7 couldn’t have simply been superseded by 8.1? Did you realise the amount of redundancy in rebuilding a product two times, but fractionally, only to end up with something which would have made more sense and taken less time being done in one go, had it already been planned from the start?

        I didn’t either, until I saw the reddit post today.

        Coincidence, the timing of D&S’ acquisition is just perfect to show off NORMANDY and WP 8.1, what Asha and WP SHOULD have been a long time ago and were finally heading towards. Isn’t it nice that Ballmer approached the inept and utterly incompetent board of Nokia just in the spring of 2012, when WP7 had unsurprisingly been a flop since launch and WP8, another, but more palatable bandaid, hadn’t even got time to pick steam??

        You can bet this is definitely not the end of the story. But what’s done is done. No more recognizable European tech companies now. Thanks, MICROSOFT, AND F*$# YOU!!! /rant

        • theflew

          You’re logic is flawed about the potential of Normandy. First there are a lot of low end Android phones that don’t run Android that well. So the performance of this will not be better than WP at the same cost.

          Second this is a forked version of Android with no access to the Play Store so Nokia will not have the “whole” Android software catalog.

          I don’t know what Normandy’s long term future is given WP Blue will support lower resolutions and apps installed on SD cards. I imagine MS will just push WP lower using the same processor as the 520 with cheaper lower resolution screens.

          • noki

            So many people rooting for the Normandy to be crap…
            don’t worry I’m sure it will be, I mean it has significantly worse than the L520 or it would eat away the vast majority of WP sales.

            I still cant believe the Normandy is coming out, crazy crazy crazy hahahahaha, so your most of your sales are in the L5xx range that cost very little and now you are going to launch in direct concurrence with it??? NUTS πŸ™‚ OO well I’m sure they will have to cut production down, or they will be in serious trouble on the WP front….

            It just does not make any sense what so ever from the new owner POV.

          • v.s.i

            Performance is not on par, you say. To be honest, if performance was the problem with WP instead of functionality, why does Android still own the low end? Why don’t people only buy 520s instead of the cheap Korean plastic Galagsies?

            It’s because if you pay $70 for a phone, you’re expecting it to do as much as it can, a fluid UI being just a nice added bonus.

            It will have access to Play Store in exactly the same way Jolla or any generic unbranded Android phone has. And if not, simply install a store which doesn’t need an account (e.g. 1Mobile). Runs like hell on Nitdroid but I do have FB Messenger, which is has loads more options that any FB chat integration.

        • GordonH

          Well written comment by v.s.i.

        • krishna6233


    • jiipee


      • arts

        so thats how you guys spin the story huh. πŸ˜‰

        • DesRed

          By using horoscopes to make predictions?

          The stars bit gave me that impression. πŸ˜›

    • ms.nokia

      yeah funny how that happened, great timing for MS and worst timing for Nokia.

  • jiipee

    “Better multitasking (more like windows 8)”
    –> The new Asha/Android platform is inevitable in the low-end. MS might even scrap L520 and 620 and use Android instead until ~7xx.

    It is no wonder, why Nokia decided to sell NMP.

    • Viipottaja

      You mean because doing the “freezing” would not work on low end hardware? 1) Is it that resource intensive? 2) Would it not be possible to continue the current tomb-stoning model in lower specked devices (i.e. is it really one or the other or can’t they implement both depending on the hardware)?

      • Shaun

        It’s puzzling me as on the low end hardware apps just end up dormant and then tombstoned earlier than on phones with more RAM.

        I suspect Ali is typing out of his backside. πŸ˜‰

        • What do I have to do with this?

          • Shaun

            Have you just cut and pasted this article from somewhere else without reading the text?

            “Better multitasking (more like windows 8), where the back button freezes apps in the background rather than ending them, meaning that we should be seeing a lot less loading times.”

            This is nonsense.

            • What I meant is that apps would already be in the background and wouldn’t have to restart. (intended about the fact that the back button no longer kills apps)

              • dss

                There shouldn’t even be a “back” button, just like in Windows 8.

                Bring that charm menu design to Windows Phone and get rid of the 3 buttons on the bottom… I am really hoping they do this with the threshold update next year or whenever.

              • Shaun

                But that also is nonsense. The back button in the current wp8 or even wp7 does not kill apps.

      • jiipee

        No. πŸ˜‰

        If MS targets WP to superphones (or what was their term for beyond smartphones) they can concentrate on getting WP on par with competition without the need to optimize WP. They are constantly behind competition with hw adaptation and Android would allow alternatives such as Mediatek to be used.

        So far looks like that WP8 is not competitive in the low-mid-end. Nokia is making loss with each L520 excluding platform support payments. They would need access to lower end hw.

        From branding/marketing pov, MS could distinguish the high-end better from low-end. Atm the danger is that WP/Lumia is considered to be only lower-end devices (since the high-end does not sell).

        • Viipottaja

          1) How exactly do you know Nokia is making a loss on 520? Even if they did, so what? It’s called a portfolio.
          2) WP 8.1 will support lower screen resolutions now. Seems like they ARE going after the low end with WP8.1.


          I would not be surprised if Normandy is the N9 of 2014 – a one off device that is let out to the market since so much was already spent on it and selling it doesn’t really hurt either.

    • jjkj

      The 512 MB RAM devices would be able to the “freezing apps” but it would not be as good as the 1GB RAM devices

      • Viipottaja

        yup. nothing unusual about that of course (lower end devices being a bit slower etc.)

  • allawi

    where we will get this update?

  • allawi

    And when?

    • Muerte

      Starting from April the soonest. Probably during the summer.

    • Bloob

      Not before Build, and that’s in April.

    • I think the fact that it has all what we have waiting for and more, is enough, the problem always was updates were minor and took long time, this update isn’t and I’m willing to wait it out seeing how it’ll be available for all WP8 !!!

  • Viipottaja

    WP8.1 is shaping up to be a very nice update indeed! Obviously, much of it is just completing the package and catching up with the competition but it is great to see nonetheless. The more interesting stuff, arguably, is the further unification with the Windows/Windows RT both at the APIs and interactions level (nice to e.g. see swipe down to close apps come to WP as well).

    • dss

      It better be.. it took them a while…

      I stll haven’t heard anything on multiple e-mail account support, file attachments, file management, etc. Also, they better update that silly calendar..

      • Bloob

        Yeah, it’s a nice update, but it’s also 1.5 years after 8.0, which was already lagging behind, and still lacks many basic features / has many small annoyances, most of which seems like they shouldn’t be that difficult (like week -view).

        http://www.wpcentral.com/developers-leak-new-features-windows-phone-81-sdk mentions “File picker”, not sure if we can have custom file formats yet. It’s quite annoying being restricted to “MS-approved” formats.

      • Oslik

        I use 7 e-mail accounts (outlook.com, GMail, Exhange and IMAP) on my WP 7.8 Lumia 900 for (almost) years. And it’s quite heavy duty usage.

    • Grazy

      its not swipe down within apps to close though is it? only on multitask screen?

      I would love it if it was within the app! miss that after having an N9 πŸ™

  • mark

    Store “DOWNLOADS”!!!

    That is totally new! Does this mean that you will be able to download files from IE with some file management?

  • lumiangry

    Close apps by swiping down?…I will Love that

  • Viipottaja

    On WMPoweruser they list:

    “File picker support for apps similar to Windows RT”

    What does that mean exactly?

  • Shaun

    “Better multitasking (more like windows 8), where the back button freezes apps in the background rather than ending them, meaning that we should be seeing a lot less loading times.”

    Windows 8 doesn’t freeze apps in the background, it’s a full desktop OS. The most it does is reduces CPU priority so the foreground app is more responsive than apps in the background. This used to split about 75% foreground/25% background on desktop Windows and 50/50 on Server.

    Windows Phone doesn’t end apps either usually unless it has to. It first moves them into a dormant state where they’re frozen in RAM. If there’s no resources left it then tombstones the app to storage. IIRC this is after the 6th app in a dormant state. The difference is a dormant app stays in RAM and unsaved data in say a textarea is preserved whereas the app has to save it’s data if it’s being told by the OS to tombstone.

    There’s no multitasking on Windows Phone apart from specific headless background tasks like Skype VoIP registration or apps using specific APIs to perform background tasks like file downloads. The ‘Multitasking View’ is not a multitasking view. It’s a list of apps in their dormant or tombstoned state. Those aren’t live.

    So with that, what do you mean by ‘better multitasking’ Ali as currently there is none and what you’ve described as the improvement is what it does already?

    • dss

      It does so for modern apps I believe.. even when you close them they still stay in memory until that memory is needed for something else, so when you re-open them you start from where you left off.

      They have an API that would keep music/video playing if you minimize the app. Hyper for youtube would play video even after you minimize it.

      x86 programs.. well, that’s another story.

      • Shaun

        Really? I really hope the rumoured clear out of Windows 8 staff at Microsoft has cleared out the Numbskull responsible for that if it does do that. It’s a DESKTOP OS Microsoft FFS!

  • Marko

    Only thing that’s missing is the file manager.

    • Viipottaja

      See above, maybe there is something along those lines. And I personally think this kind of “managed” file manager is the best way to do it. πŸ™‚

      • Bloob

        I really hope it’s true, I agree on the managed part. Users shouldn’t need to go through system files to get to the usable ones.

      • dss

        Symbian’s file manager, by default, doesn’t let you see the system folders, only non-essential files. So C: is off limits, but you have full access to mass storage and SD card.

        This is how it should be.

        • Viipottaja

          Not sure how it is in the last versions of Symbian, but at least earlier it was very messy with all kinds of obscure files with difficulty telling which one were actually useful.

  • Viipottaja

    A more complete list here:


    Note eg.

    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)
    Feature to mirror Windows Phone screens to TVs and/or monitors
    Twitter integrated more deeply into the contacts Hub
    Bing smart search (similar search system as Windows 8.1)
    Filter through installed apps by usage/install date
    Select multiple tiles when customising the Start screen

  • Shaun

    VPN. Finally!

    What’s that Microsoft? 3.5 years to add back VPN support that was in Windows Mobile.

    I was disappointed that my Jolla didn’t have VPN support when I got it before Christmas and slightly peeved that it took the community almost a whole week to add it. πŸ˜‰

    • dss

      Better late than..

  • Golan

    Many new update following that harmattan been doing on nokia n9. Really appreciate about merging store of app but will update support nokia devices or MS devices?

    • Viipottaja

      Both, obviously. And the only difference at least in the first patch of devices is likely to be the brand name – so in reality its still a Nokia underneath. πŸ™‚

  • hhh

    Jolla should work with Microsoft for bringing Skype, wonder how they sell their phone without native skype, they are lucky to have mitakuuluu.

    • Shaun

      Native Skype instead of using the Android app would certainly help but I’m not sure it’s that important on a mobile. I’d rather have SIP support completed in Sailfish first. It’s way cheaper and more useful than Skype.

    • GordonH

      Jolla better work with Viber and Whatsapp. Skype is used by so few people nowadays.

      • Viipottaja

        Errr, really? As far as I can tell, it’s still the de facto video calling standard.

  • dss

    “Close apps in the multitasking view by swiping down”

    welcome to iOS 7 … I hope you can close more than one at a time, just like in iOS7

    • Bloob

      welcome to win 8

      • dss


        In win tho you don’t have a “multitasking view” from which you can do that, you will have to open each app and drag down.

        I wish they would add an option where you can swipe them away from the side multitasking view instead of having to right click on each one to close with.

        • Bloob

          You can swipe them down from side view (at least with a mouse), not sure if you can swipe more than one though.

    • Viipottaja

      Actually, wonder if this is confirmed as in the pic on WPCentral the X at the top corner is still there. Perhaps someone interpreted the app card being a little lower on the screen in that pic as implying swipe to close (whereas it could be just a screen capture of the way it already closes in the Black update)?

  • dss


    “I don’t know much about developing but it sounds like they’ve had an entire overhaul of the system behind the scenes. Did they listen to what developers were asking for?”


    “So far, yes. I’m still catching up to the docs but the whole building a WP8 app works like WinRT. ”

    Well done Microsoft, well done.

  • Douglas

    “Better multitasking (more like windows 8), where the back button freezes apps in the background rather than ending them, meaning that we should be seeing a lot less loading times.”

    STILL doesn’t address my main issue of true multitasking. Get over the battery consumption garbage and give us true Windows inspired multitasking, and side-by-side apps. Give us an innovative way to multitask. It’s not that difficult.

    • Viipottaja

      And you know its garbage how?

      • Shaun

        Because other operating systems multitask fully just fine without major battery issues.

        The problem is I don’t think Microsoft know how to do it or there’s some architectural issue in Windows that prevents them doing it. I can run Windows natively on my MacBook Air and it gets about half the run time that OS X or Linux gets. It’s similar comparing Ubuntu and Windows on my Thinkpad also.

        If that problem carries over to Windows Phone also then it’s perhaps why they still have the most restrictive multitasking of any platform.

        • Viipottaja

          Well, maybe in WP adding “true” multitasking for any jack and Jill little app WOULD cause battery problems? Thus, in WP case it may not be all garbage. πŸ™‚

  • manu.

    is file manager still missing, ? too lazy to read through all the list

    • Viipottaja

      well, then we won’t tell you. πŸ˜‰

  • Jasyn

    Are we going to get more than the limited colours choices for Accent colours?

    Those 20 colours get old fast. Just give us a colour picker or Windows 8 dual colour themes.

  • Pertti

    Yeah, I am really looking forward to see a real multitasking in WP some day. Disconnected from IRC (or some other service, program or something) everytime I switch to some other program, close the screen or something is retarded

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  • Nik_Ind

    One basic function that I still find missing is, the ability to select a song as a ringtone directly from the Music app instead of specifically copying it to the ringtones folder by connecting the device to the computer!