Yesterday, the first details on what the upcoming Windows Phone 8.1 operating system version will have to offer have started to emerge online, following the release of the platform’s SDK to some developers, and an extensive screenshot gallery with the OS is now available for your viewing pleasure.Said screenshots are accompanied by additional details on the changes that Microsoft is planning to include in the upcoming platform version, confirming that it will arrive as a major update when made available for download in April or May this year.
Just as previously reported, Windows Phone 8.1 will pack a brand new Navigation Bar, which can be set to auto-hide or show up when needed, in addition to allowing users to change its color in accordance with their preferences, as WPCentral explains.
Additionally, the OS will come with dedicated support for podcasts, which can be easily set to be downloaded over Wi-Fi networks, as well as with changes to the lock screen and a new Xbox Music UI. Moreover, there will be a separate Videos app, it seems.
Microsoft will pack the upcoming platform release with new photos and camera settings, updated NFC capabilities, and with the possibility to project the screen of your phone to a TV.
The Calendar has been updated with week view, and there is also support for syncing apps across devices, as long as a Microsoft account is used on all of them, as can be seen in the screenshots available courtesy of @AngelWZR.
Windows Phone 8.1 will arrive with a new sharing screen, as well as with enhanced battery settings and with updated options for messages, not to mention that it will offer new ringtone settings, the long rumored separate volume controls for apps, and additional location features.
Internet Explorer has seen some enhancements as well, now featuring separate instances of the app for each opened web page, and not tabbed browsing as it did before, MyNokiaBlog notes.
Moreover, the app comes with WebGL and Normal mapping support and offers HTML5 Video playback for YouTube videos within pages (a dedicated YouTube mobile client will no longer be needed, it seems), as detailed on Reddit.
There is also quick access to connectivity options through swiping from the top of the screen, while Cellular and SIM settings have been put together on the same screen.
Windows Phone 8.1 is also said to offer support for Bluetooth 4.0 LE for non-Nokia devices, Wi-Fi Direct, GeoFencing monitoring, native DLNA broadcasting support, VPN support, and a great deal of NFC tap to pay options.
Additionally, the OS is believed to come with a redesigned Lenses icon, better audio/video transcoding, removed Facebook folders from photo gallery, Stereoscopic 3d support for media files, and various changes to the Photo gallery app.
The platform will sport new and updated applications as well, including the entire suite of Microsoft apps in Windows 8.1, better Data Sense, updated Xbox Game Hub, single sign-in for apps, and auto-updates for applications.
Additionally, it will allow users to close apps through sliding down on the screen, while also supporting the installation of software on the SD card. You will also be able to filter through installed apps by usage/installation date, it seems.
As TheVerge notes, the one feature that Windows Phone 8.1 is expected to arrive with but that hasn’t been seen in the newly released SDK is Cortana, the long rumored personal assistant.
Some of the other features that should make it in the final platform release have also been blocked in Windows Phone 8.1, either because they are not ready just yet, or because Microsoft is still working on refining them.
Keep in mind that the features above have been spotted in the Windows Phone 8.1 SDK, and that Microsoft might change some of them before making the operating system available for end users.