Today, Microsoft announced the third developer update to Windows Phone 8, which brings support for larger screens, and 1080p display resolution. This also means a larger start screen, going from 4 to 6 live tiles of horizontal space (on larger screens), but otherwise maintaining similar start screen design. GDR3 also brings support for the 8x74 SoCs, better known as Snapdragon 800.

There are also some other usability features added to the phone, such as driving mode, which disables many types of notifications and turns on an auto-respond feature to prevent distractions. It seems to work automatically based upon a paired Bluetooth device that is remembered.

Accessibility is also improved, with a screen reader similar to Talkback on Android. The internet sharing feature finally brings Bluetooth tethering. Other feature additions include custom ringtones for more items like IMs, and personalized call/text ringtones based upon contacts, autorotation lock, native management of the “Other storage” files and better file management in general, a tap to close application function similar to iOS 7, WebOS, and Android 4.x, although differing in UI implementation, immediate WiFi connection setup on first start, and general improvements to the Bluetooth stack.

While many features have been implemented in this update, many such features have been significantly delayed in implementation when compared to Android or iOS. While iOS seems to be staying in the 300 PPI range for mobile displays, Android is in a race to ever greater resolutions, as seen by the rapid spread of 400+PPI displays. Windows Phone seems to be stuck in the middle of this because while it may make sense to stick with ~300 PPI from a battery life perspective, due to the approximate 20% jump in power draw on the display from the increased backlight requirements, it seems that Windows Phone is mostly compared against Android devices, not iOS. This also seems to make things more difficult for Microsoft, as the update cadence simply doesn’t stack up when compared to the rate at which Google iterates Android, and the design of the OS is simply not well suited to widely varying screen sizes and pixel densities, a trait shared by iOS, but not by Android, which has proven to be extremely important as displays have taken five notable jumps in resolution in the past four years, with a huge number of variations when it comes to screen size.  It remains to be seen whether Microsoft will amp up the pace when it comes to the Windows Phone update cycle, specifically in the areas of SoC support, resolution/DPI support, and general UI additions, but for now, this update seems to be a continuation of previous strategies and with  little change in the execution of said strategies.

Source: Microsoft

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  • Laxaa - Tuesday, October 15, 2013 - link

    Still, it's great that they finally delivered on their original promise of delivering early updates/betas to the enthusiast crowd. Hopefully we'll get a 8.1 beta early next year. Reply
  • theawddone - Tuesday, October 15, 2013 - link

    This is the biggest thing for me...I'm surprised this didn't make it into the article. Reply
  • thejaredhuang - Tuesday, October 15, 2013 - link

    GDR2 was released around June/July IIRC, GDR3 is Oct/Nov, and 8.1 is rumored to be Jan/Feb. It seems like they're picking up the pace. It certainly is a lot faster than it was from Portico to Apollo/GDR2 and light years faster than WP7/7.5 days Reply
  • B3an - Tuesday, October 15, 2013 - link

    Yeah these feature updates are faster than both iOS and Android so i don't know why the article makes out that MS are slow at this. Yes they're lagging the competition in features but they are faster at adding new features over the past year or so. And GDR3 is a reasonably good update with a decent amount of features, considering it's not even a .1 update.

    Having said that i do still think MS need to be even faster and/or larger with the updates considering they're still some way behind. I'm also amazed that they still haven't added individual volume controls for headphones, media, notification and ringtone sounds.
    Reply
  • bplewis24 - Tuesday, October 15, 2013 - link

    When you lack features, it's easier to have faster updates because you're adding them. When you have all of the "standard" features, there is less reason to update quickly. Reply
  • Braumin - Tuesday, October 15, 2013 - link

    I'm sorry what are the "standard" features?

    Does iOS have driving mode? Glance?

    Some of the additions have been sorely needed (screen lock) but they now have features that aren't available on other platforms. Are the other platforms now not lacking as well?
    Reply
  • JoshHo - Tuesday, October 15, 2013 - link

    GDR1 arrived around November, GDR2 around August, and GDR3 in the coming months. These are small maintenance releases that are arguably on par with the jump from 4.1 to 4.2 to 4.3, something that isn't really acceptable when WP8 is still very much lacking feature parity with Android/iOS. Reply
  • Drumsticks - Tuesday, October 15, 2013 - link

    They might not be .1 updates but they are certainly more than 4.x updates, even still imo. I think Microsoft is iterating well enough right now, it is just a shame that we started so far behind in the first place. I think (read: hope) to see Microsoft attain parity with iOS, and then android, in the 2014,2015 range. Most of the core things are now covered, just like most of them were in 2012, but we are getting closer.

    The biggest problem to me with my windows phone is the omission of things that you completely take for granted. Hell, custom tones have been around since like 2000.
    Reply
  • eanazag - Tuesday, October 15, 2013 - link

    I agree with Josh. They have so much opportunity to release smaller, more frequent updates. It is missing enough simple functions compared to iOS and Android that there is plenty of things to pick from. They need to play a better catch up game when they have been so slow in the past and have broken promises on update cadence. Reply
  • takeship - Tuesday, October 15, 2013 - link

    The last paragraph is painful and poorly supported. For example, "many such features have been significantly delayed in implementation" - do you mean to say that WP8+GDR3 continues to lack features, or that Microsoft is implementing them more slowly than iOS/Android? A timeline of feature development vs market introduction would seem to be needed. The third sentence should simply be exised and replaced with shorter, more focused thoughts. As for "It remains to be seen" final sentence, Microsoft has already announced WP8.1 for early 2014. Also, strategies is incorrectly pluralized; "The Windows Phone update cycle" has but one strategy. Reply

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