Windows Phone GDR3 update to bring UI changes, rotation lock; now in testing

The next release on Microsoft's update roadmap for Windows Phone 8 is starting to roll out now to devices around the world - although that process has already been overshadowed by reports of some devices being bricked after installing the update. General Distribution Release 2 is its name - better known as GDR2 - and it will bring a range of welcome, but fairly uninteresting, improvements

Beyond that, Microsoft has one further update in store for 2013. We've known for some time that GDR3 will arrive before the end of the year, and will bring new hardware support, principally for quad-core processors and 1080p displays. Further details about GDR3 emerged today via The Verge, which revealed several new features that the update will bring. 

The most visible change will come to the Start screen, with revisions to the Live Tiles for devices with Full HD (1920x1080px) displays; the network indicator logos will apparently also be updated. 

Also on the UI front, a new 'driving mode' interface will be added to the OS, making handsets more driver-friendly. A rotation lock is also on the way - something that many users have been longing for since their first Windows Phone 7 handsets. This was reportedly considered an important feature for new phablet-class devices, with larger 5- and 6-inch displays. 

Microsoft is also working on a feature to synchronise SMS text messages between handsets, PCs and the web. It's apparently intended to enable users to view their messages on other devices or via a web page - which calls to mind Microsoft's ill-fated Kin phones, and its 'Kin Studio' web interface. 

There's still a question mark hanging over that feature though - it's said that the company may not complete it in time for the release of GDR3. "Sources familiar with Microsoft's Windows Phone plans" told The Verge that Microsoft hopes to have the update finalised by mid-September, coinciding with the announcement of a new Nokia phablet. 

GDR3 will reportedly debut on that and other new devices, before it's made available to existing handsets later this year. Beyond that, "early 2014" is the timeframe for the next update, but it's expected to be worth the wait. Windows Phone 8.1 is believed to bring a broad range of improvements, such as better multitasking and a notifications hub, while an 'enterprise feature pack' is also promised. 

> Check out our vision of how Windows Phone 8.1 could look on a Nokia phablet

Source: The Verge

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31 Comments

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I got GDR2 the other day.
It was a much needed update.
I have a Lumia 920 that I bought from my carrier without contract so it's unlocked. However, it seems that we don't have carrier locked phones here. The only lock here is when you buy the phone discounted through contract, which makes them only lock the IMEI and none of the hardware or software is special or locked.
I feel sorry for people who only are able to buy carrier lock hardware.
Nokia and other phone manufacturers should only have localized variations available and not carrier specific versions.

Yes, I love the idea of the SMS on any device, I was using my Win8 tablet the other day and the phone was upstairs and I was thinking man it would be handy to send and recieve from the tablet

I hope that they also fixed sd card read and write on 8S - i am unable to see pictures saved on that medium via phone, they're visible only when i'm connecting device to pc.

Also, i hope that someday installing and running apps from sd card will be available because 1.2gb of memory for user is just same bad joke as "other" cache problem. But seems its likely impossible - HTC will release another device with better specs instead of Microsoft will fix this problem. Last update forced me to remove almost every app, because there was no space for installation temp files...

I like the option being rumored that will allow me to use NFC without being prompted to allow it each time. If that's per device, that would be awesome, as saying OK every time I connect to my charger is a bit of an aggravation. lol

siah1214 said,
I find this hard to accept when my phone doesn't even have GDR2 yet...

While it sucks that GDR2 is being held up by the carriers, the updates are cumulative, if you get the prompt to install 3 you get all the stuff in 2 as well. It's just a longer wait for some.

This has always been my problem not only with WP but also with Android. In this respect Apple has the upper hand. Apple has full control over os updates. Now if MS had that type of control this wouldn't be an issue.

GP007 said,
While it sucks that GDR2 is being held up by the carriers, the updates are cumulative, if you get the prompt to install 3 you get all the stuff in 2 as well. It's just a longer wait for some.

Well said, not only that but unlike Android carriers can only prevent one update each time i.e. if you don't get GDR2 you will get GDR3.

siah1214 said,
I find this hard to accept when my phone doesn't even have GDR2 yet...

GDR2 just started rolling out. Jeez... People are so impatient anymore... lol

WP is much better than Android when it comes to updates. GDR2 has rolled out for some handsets already and looks to continue in a week for a lot of Nokia devices. I hardly think the carriers have held it back much.

#Michael said,
.....Apple has full control over os updates. Now if MS had that type of control this wouldn't be an issue.

Except, Apple is starting to lose carriers because of their unwillingness to let the carriers vet the changes to the OS. That and their ridiculous quotas.

I'll grant you the quota part but the carriers should never have a hand in any changes to the os. **** if apple let that happen then Verizon devices would be on OS4 with no hope of any upgrade, Sprint devices would still on OS5, While att would be on OS6. Only devices bought directly from Apple would ever get timely updates. In other words...the exact situation you have with Android and Google/Nexus devices.

GP007 said,

While it sucks that GDR2 is being held up by the carriers, the updates are cumulative, if you get the prompt to install 3 you get all the stuff in 2 as well. It's just a longer wait for some.


It is not just the carriers: I have an unbranded Lumia 920 and Nokia has not released GRD2 for it yet.
Granted when people have to wait first for OEMs then for carriers is even worse.

Also on the UI front, a new 'driving mode' interface will be added to the OS, making handsets more driver-friendly

For gods sake, you shouldn't be encouraging people to use their phones whilst driving.

what said,

For gods sake, you shouldn't be encouraging people to use their phones whilst driving.

Neowin didn't add in the "when connected to Bluetooth part"

I imagine it will work something like how Smart Actions worked on Motorola Android phones. If it detects your connected to your car's blue tooth system, it will auto-magically handle text's and phone calls accordingly, and can queue up a play list. I'd like to see something like Smart Actions arrive on Windows Phone 8.

what said,

For gods sake, you shouldn't be encouraging people to use their phones whilst driving.


I don't feel encouraged. I live in area called Dadar West and in WP8 Bing Maps, all the roads in my area are named as Dadar West Road. WTF?

what said,

For gods sake, you shouldn't be encouraging people to use their phones whilst driving.

Well, I'm not sure how the option to have your phone autorespond to messages for you when you're driving is anything but a good idea personally... Sounds like a great feature. I hope it can also be enabled via NFC, as not everyone has bluetooth in their car.