Whilst Microsoft is in the process of rolling out the next Windows Phone 8 update, called General Distribution Release 2 (GDR2) – which brings minor enhancements and fixes such as CalDAV and CardDav support, FM Radio, and more – details on the next update, called GDR3, were leaked today. According to reports from The Verge, corroborated by a Reddit post, the Windows Phone 8 GDR3 update is said to bring the following features:
- Auto-rotate screen – a long-awaited feature that allow users to disable the automatic screen rotation in Windows Phone. This will prove useful to those who browse their phone whilst lying down, and is especially needed for large-screen “phablet” devices.
- UI changes – including Live Tiles for 1080p handsets (3x medium sized tiles), as well as changes to the network status icons.
- Driving mode – allow users to reject phone calls automatically, or sent automatic replies to SMS whilst driving. This feature can be set to turn on automatically when you connect to a Bluetooth device.
- Text message syncing – this feature allows Windows Phone to automatically sync text messages (we’re assuming this includes SMS as well as text messages from Skype and Facebook Chat) to the cloud, and allow users to access these messages on the web or on their PCs. Could this be related to the upcoming changes to Messaging history feature on Outlook.com?
- Support for new hardware – as previously reported, the update is expected to bring support for 1080p resolution and quad-core chipsets
The report indicates that Microsoft is aiming to finalise the update in mid-September, in time for the large-screen Nokia “phablet” device announcement. Like the current GDR2 update, it will be available on new devices initially, followed by a roll out to existing devices.
Microsoft is also developing the next major upgrade to the Windows Phone OS, codenamed “Blue”, which is expected to bring notification center, improved multitasking, changes to built-in apps, as well as an “enterprise feature pack”.