Windows Phone is growing up fast.
Details on the new SDK for Windows Phone 8.1 have leaked on Reddit, and Twitter user @AngelWZR has posted screen shots from the developer emulator showing all kinds of fun new features for Microsoft’s phone update.
Highlights include fixes for my top two gripes! Windows Phone will now have separate volume controls for media and alerts. It’s can be a painful experience listening to music and then having an email alert go off on your headphones.
We’ll also see radically improved file management in WP8.1. As it stands now, WP8 handles files much like the iPhone does. You don’t really have access to one central app where you can see file location. Now, like on Windows 8 and RT, WP8.1 will allow the new OneDrive app to manage cloud storage and local storage. We’ll also see improved support for memory cards, support app installation on removable media.
We’ll also see significant improvements to other services like NFC, screen sharing on TV’s, and WP8.1 will allow for 3rd party messaging apps. Alongside improvements to the actual phone OS, Microsoft is pushing forward with universal app support, so new apps being developed can work on both Windows Phone and the Metro interface for Windows 8. We knew this synergy was coming with the future Threshold update, but it’s exciting seeing pieces falling into place now. Right now apps don’t travel between phone, tablet, and computer, and I don’t want to have to buy Halo multiple times to play it on all of my various screens.
Best of all, Microsoft has stated that all WP8 phones will be eligible for the 8.1 update. This is a great step forward for the platform, as even the most entry-level phones like the Lumia 520 should be able to benefit from some of these updates.
The actual 8.1 update is rumored to arrive in April, which means we could see much stronger competition from this third place platform later in the year. See some more screenshots of WP8.1 in action below!