Leaked Windows Phone 8.1 details reveal closer relationship with Windows RT

Daniel Bader

February 11, 2014 10:23 am

Though the official announcement isn’t slated until April, when Microsoft will host its annual Build conference, juicy details of the company’s next version of Windows Phone have been revealed.

Windows Phone 8.1, like Windows 8.1 on the desktop side, is reportedly set to put Microsoft’s mobile OS on equal footing, both in terms of features and hardware capabilities, with iOS and Android. Specifically, an early version of the upcoming SDK has revealed much closer ties between Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8, both in how apps are written and how they’re distributed.

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According to an unnamed developer on Reddit (whose original material has been deleted), Windows Phone 8.1 will support both Javascript and HTML for universal app programming with Windows 8; even the XAP app packaging will be replaced by the universal APPX used in the Windows Store.

Long-awaited features like VPN support and improvements to Internet Explorer, though expected, will be welcome to users tired of Windows Phone playing second fiddle to the business and WebKit-focused markets on iOS and Android. Similarly, Windows Phone 8.1 may allow users to change their default messaging app, much like it did with the camera app in GDR2.

Peppered through the preview SDK are references to Microsoft’s rebranded OneDrive service, while the default back button behaviour has been changed to no longer kill an open app; instead it goes into a suspended state, similar to iOS and Windows 8. Closing apps from the multitasking menu looks to be easier, too, as users will be able to swipe down as opposed to pressing a small “X” on the top left of the card.

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The web browser has also been improved, reportedly scoring a 372 out of 555 for the HTML5Test, up from 328 on Windows Phone 8 GDR3. Internet Explorer 11 is reportedly the codebase for the new version. Microsoft also seems to be changing the way YouTube works on Windows Phone 8.1, launching in the browser window as opposed to a separate video layer.

According to The Verge, Microsoft will also be removing support for Facebook within the People app, though Twitter integration remains. There are no references to Microsoft’s widely-leaked ‘Cortana’ voice assistant, either, which means that the company is likely holding a number of important user-facing features back until the SDK is launched.

Whether Windows Phone 8.1 will be enough of an upgrade — along with better hardware from Nokia — to claw back some market share in North America remains to be seen, but we’re holding out hope for big announcements in April.

SourceReddit

  • Victor_Creed

    Wait, you mean Microsoft has a mobile OS?

  • St. Misery

    Announcing in April, north American rollout in November maybe?

    • silver_arrow

      And if you make your phone a dev device the day its announced probably.

    • Ballack

      When does your phone receive Android 4.4 update since it was announced last November? Next November or next next….?

    • Samuel Gomez Recuero

      And then right after getting 4.4 the ONE got “end of life” status with carriers. So good luck with any more updates

    • jetbeck

      Um got it in November

  • alecthefail

    garbage OS

    • Samuel Gomez Recuero

      Go jump you anger somewhere else. The OS itself is not a problem, getting dev to embrace the new platform to create apps has been an issue, but is is getting better, way better compared to where it was 6 months ago.

  • Bryce

    I was pretty excited until the part about removing Facebook fromt he People app… That’s the only thing I use People for…

    • Keegan

      Yeah everything seems great, but why reduce the social integration? For God sakes, that was one of the things that they touted when WP7 was released!

    • BaritoneGuy

      Apparently there are new APIs that will allow developers to integrate directly into the people hub and the rumour is that Facebook will be first. This is similar to what Skype does today.

  • Petephone

    Be my valentine WP8.1 ;)
    A box of chocolates and red roses are coming your way!

  • Martini

    I’m most looking forward to the notification center.

  • Mike B

    Hmm time to jump ship back to BlackBerry. Sorry windows phone I gave you a try.

  • Arun M Joseph

    A promising move from Micro Soft. Most of the required features are lined up. This will surely give more confidence to compete with the other Mobile OS.