April 14, 2014
Windows Phone 8.1 Ready For Developers
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Windows Phone is about to get an update. While Microsoft rolled out Windows 8.1 on desktops and PCs last October, Windows Phone will get its own update later this year as Microsoft has announced the Windows Phone Preview for Developers this week.
“Windows Phone Preview for Developers gives registered developers access to prerelease Windows Phone operating system updates for their development phone, directly from Microsoft,” the company posted on the Windows Phone Dev Center. “The Preview program was created to give developers time to test their apps, and to validate that their apps run as expected on a real phone before an operating system update is made generally available to your customers.”
To take part in this preview, developers will need to be a registered developer or running a “developer unlocked” handset. There is a yearly $19 (USD) fee to register and publish apps in the Windows Phone Store as an individual or $99 a year as a company or developers with an App Studio can register for free.
While it is free to sign up, users will need to download a special preview app on an existing Windows Phone 8 device, and then sign up with a Microsoft Account to enable the phone to detect the 8.1 update.
The Verge reported on Monday that this isn’t exactly a perfect solution, however:
“While this method will enable access to the final Windows Phone 8.1 software, there are some limitations you should be aware of. The developer preview method will void your device warranty until your carrier has officially rolled out Windows Phone 8.1 and any associated carrier or device customizations. The update will only upgrade the OS software, and not the customizations made by device makers like Nokia. These future updates will be installable once they’re ready, but if you run into any early bugs with Windows Phone 8.1 on your device then you won’t be able to roll back to Windows Phone 8.”
On Monday Microsoft also unveiled some of the new features that Windows Phone 8.1 will now offer to users, many of which might be familiar to those using the desktop/laptop version of 8.1. ReadWrite reports that his includes a new Start screen, an Action Center notification drawer and a new voice assistant known as Cortana. The Action Center, which has drawn comparisons to Android and iOS, will include a pull-from-top notification bar that shows current messages and allows for quick access to settings.
There is also a new Swype-style keyboard layout that is also similar to the one utilized on Android devices, plus new volume controls, and Dual-SIM support for use with two SIM cards. Windows Phone 8.1 will also have an improved battery saver feature that can provide app-by-app management and monitoring – a feature that also seems to be somewhat “borrowed” from Google’s Android OS.
Windows Phone 8.1 will also upgrade the browser to Internet Explorer ii, which also offers a host of improvements including the ability to tag websites as live tiles on the homescreen, a private browsing mode and pre-rendering of websites for performance enhancements and integration with the aforementioned Cortana.