Just in case you were under a rock for the last two days, Windows Phone 8.1 SDK was released to select developers and as such eventually its features were almost fully leaked except for those features Microsoft choose to hold close to their chest
Instead of searching all over our site to get your screen shots and other little details, we decided to summarize all 50+ feature additions in one article to make it easy for you to understand what changed and what will that mean for you.
Video walkabout in Windows Phone 8.1:
- Separate Volume for Ringer + Notifications and Media + Apps, its accessed upon clicking the arrow that shows up upon volume down/up actions.
- Ringtone options to vibrate during a ringtone or not.
- Ringtone options to vibrate in silent mode or not.
- Quick shortcut for sounds setting, changed Silent mode button location, its text based now.
- Improvement to keyboard, possible Swype like input method is rumored.
- As part of the new back up system, SMS back up offers you a choice for how many messages your phone should retain in a set period of time. (just like emails.)
- Ability to use 3rd party SMS apps, it is still unclear if its going to be open to all developers or to select ones.
- Facebook Chat is now removed from messaging options.
- Internet Explorer no longer uses tab browsing, uses separate instances in the multitasking view instead.(Nokia N9 style, its a nice way to prevent loss of data in the other open pages if a single page crashed).
- Internet Explorer 11 improved with WebGL and Normal mapping support; Its good news for video playback and HTML5 3d games, as it allows hardware acceleration.
- Internet Explorer 11 gets an improvement in HTML5 score at 372 previously at 332, mostly for video playback capabilities.
- Internet Explorer 11 now support HTML5 Video playback for YouTube videos from within the page, it also uses a new streaming interface with Seek, mute and minimize. (More good news Youtube Closed Captions will be supported)
- Internet Explorer gives the option to save or open recognized files using a tool called File Picker. (It was a pain trying to download an mp3 podcast!)
Radios, Connectivity & protocols:
- Quick settings access (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth) by doing a quick swipe from the top of the screen.
- Cellular and SIM options AKA Nokia’s version of Access Point are now one, the Data connection is now a slide button instead of a list (I really don’t know what it was a list in the first place).
- 2g, 3g and 4g settings are nowhere to be found in the Cellular+ SIM settings page.
- Bluetooth 4.0 LE support for non Lumia Windows Phones. [Still waiting on further details hopefully some editing option in the dialer]
- NFC has extensive tap to pay options, sadly it doesn’t seem to cross over to picture sharing, Tap to share (NFC) is still a must for that.
- GeoFencing monitoring. A geofence [As described in the option menu] is the boundary around a place of interest to you. Location services can monitor geofences to tell your apps when you’re entering or leaving them.
(Endless possibilities Navigation, fitness tracking apps, basically an open Google Now protocol)
- Wi-Fi Direct, a Wi-Fi standard allowing direct peer-to-peer connections over Wi-Fi without an access point. ( Faster data transfers, hopefully easier sharing to other Windows Phones and Windows PCs, possibly opens the door for sharing to Android through 3rd party apps)
- Better developers access to 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.
- Project my screen both wired and wireless. [Still unclear if its Nokia Beamer style wireless connection or otherwise.]
- Native DLNA broadcasting support.
- VPN support. [Basically Blackberries only merit over Windows Phones in business was VPN support!]
- USB connections can ask for your prompt before going to mass storage, ability to enable or disable warnings about low powered USB chargers.
- Burst mode button, keep holding it and it’ll keep bursting shots.
- Redesigned Lenses icon its now an actual lens instead of arrows.
- Sadly as we saw in the video no changes to the lenses arrangement, we could only hope some sort of arrangement kicks in once you have enough lenses just like how lettered navigation through apps activates over 25+ apps.
- Nokia Camera-like preview of last photo taken using a circle with a small thumbnail.
- Improved Audio/video transcoding, Hardware accelerated
- Media editing: audio and video; Audio effects, video effects; Slow motion video.
- Stereoscopic 3d support.
- Xbox Music and Xbox Video as standalone apps instead of the Music + Video Hub (allowing more updates to be pushed)
- Changes to photo gallery, Facebook folders are removed, OneDrive is probably more of a link to the app.
Changes to Photo gallery upload picker.
- Changes to photo gallery settings regarding what shows up in the Photos Live Tile.
- Native DLNA support.
- POSSIBLE FILE MANAGER! “FileManager is presented in this SDK build but it’s locked in some way. Also there is an appx package for it but Interop acess is required.” @angelwzr
- Bing News and the whole Windows Phone 8.1 suit of apps will be joining WP8.1 too .
- Music+Videos are now separate.
- New Podcast app.
- Improved Data Sense.
- Improved Phone Storage settings.
- Battery power sense.
- Slightly redesigned Xbox Game Hub.
- Auto-updates for apps. (just like Windows 8.1)
- Bing smart search. (similar search system as Windows 8.1) [ I'm hopeful it'll be able to search through settings too.]
- Single sign-in for apps (like on Windows 8) with Microsoft Account; sign in will persist across devices + apps with permissions prompt.
- Apps can now take Audio/Video from themselves [ I keep trying to explain this, I have few theories, I would love for someone in the know to clear things up.]
Apps management and interaction:
- Windows Phone 8.1 apps won’t run on 8.0 devices until they upgrade [no words on Windows Phone 8.0 apps working directly though]
- Ability to install apps on SD Cards however developers can choose to opt out in their app’s manifest.
- Filter through installed apps by usage/install date. [ just like Windows 8 though the lettered option is still available]
- Slide down to close apps. [ So far I can confirm this is the case for the multitasking view only ]
- Back button doesn’t terminate the app. (much like Metro apps in Windows 8 and RT.)
- Apps can send ghost notification without alarming you, it’ll be able to change it and delay it. (think fitness apps reminding you of your calorie intake tracking without nagging you)
- Live Tiles that still show already read notifications can now be cleared out by swiping them to the right. (to the left in RTL languages)
- Better backup functionality.
- Advertisements ID: its a great option in which you either allow or forbid advertisement from learning about you, that’s like wiping your cookies periodically.
- Auto-updates for apps (just like Windows 8.10) [Kind of wishing we have an option to stop some from doing so]
- New Action center, new notification center.
- Geofencing will create better more aware apps.
- New debugging and feedback options for your apps.
- Documentation confirms ALL current Windows Phone 8 hardware to get 8.1.
- Semantic Zoom, DatePicker, Time Picker [ basically this is great news for both advanced and beginners.]
- Back button doesn’t terminate the app [ Will help developers avoid loss of data through erroneous back button pushes]
- No more XAP, instead APPX, probably good news as this means the Lumia 920 jail break will be obsolete once this update hits.
Features that didn’t get included in the SDK
- Cortana, [although in the registry entries she's also being called Kate for some reason.]
- Action Center/ Notification Center: no one is sure if the two are the same or not, its been rumored that a full swiped down ward is needed to access what is called Action Center, while a quick swipe down will show Quick Settings and notifications.
- The new improved Keyboard. [ I think the keyboard doesn’t need Swype based gestures but it’s always nice to have options.
The article will continue to be updated with each new info we get.
Sources : Winbeta WPcentral Theverge @angelwzr and more. ( we respect our sources sorry for initially publishing this without their honorable mentions.)