The next big Windows Phone 8 update sets the stage for a new range of devices — and finally delivers on some basic, long-awaited features.
Microsoft’s third Windows Phone 8 update brings support for high-resolution 1080p screens between 5 and 6 inches, as well as faster Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processors. Basically, no big surprises. The update simply means we’ll finally see “phablet” sized Windows Phone devices on the market soon (the term “phablet” refers to large phones that approach tablet sizes).
I found the smaller additions in this update to be more telling: It will finally deliver some simple things like a rotation lock option to keep the screen from turning, the ability to use Wi-Fi when first setting up a phone, and the ability to close apps from the multitasking screen. Yes, we’re more than three years away from the launch of Windows Phone, and it’s just now getting a rotation lock.
If it takes Microsoft this long to introduce some basic features to the platform, it really makes me wonder how it will ever tackle some of the bigger problems facing Windows Phone. It’s a platform that’s desperately in need of more developers, more unique features, and a killer flagship phone. As great as the Lumia 1020′s camera was, Microsoft’s slow progress with Windows Phone pretty much killed the appeal of that device for me.
Among other features, the latest update adds a new driving mode, which limits notifications and lets you focus on driving directions. Microsoft says it has also simplified the process of using your Windows Phone 8 device as a mobile hotspot and has made improvements to Bluetooth connectivity.