In a post on the Windows Phone Blog, as part of the announcement of the new Nokia Lumia 925 device, Microsoft revealed some of the features that will be part of an upcoming update to Windows Phone 8.
Dubbed “GDR2″ to stand for the second General Distribution Release of the OS, this update is planned to be made available “this summer”. We know that unlike iOS, where everyone gets the OS updates regardless of carriers, Windows Phone updates are subject to carrier approvals. Hence, the date of the release is obviously not fixed.
So, what’s new in the release, which would be about the size of the previous update, dubbed “GDR1″ and codenamed Portico? Given the incremental nature of the update, it is not expected to have major changes to the OS. Instead, in addition to many fixes and improvements, the following features have been made public:
- Bringing back support for FM radio. While this naturally cannot be counted as “new”, it is in fact an additional feature being added to the OS.
- Data sense, the feature that allows Windows Phone users to save data usage by compressing and cloud-processing browsing sessions, will see an expanded carrier support. Currently, it is only available on Verizon Wireless. It is a pity that the feature is carrier-dependent because it is so useful and customers should be able to use it without carrier interference.
- Select, download and pin tunes from Xbox Music and improvement in accuracy of song info and metadata. This is such a random feature to call out, but I guess they thought it important enough to highlight.
- Support for CalDAV and CardDAV in order to continue support of Google’s GMail-related services like Google Calendar and Google Contacts.
In addition, Nokia have outlined what will be a firmware update that presumably rides on top of GDR2, called Amber. This update will bring some of the imaging technology improvements and new experiences which will come presintalled on the Lumia 925. This includes Smart Camera which takes 10 shots of 5MP within a short burst of time and keeps all of them for as long as you need it. Doing so helps you apply some of the effects included with the “lens app” like Change Faces, Action Shot and Motion Focus. Additionally, Smart Camera can be made the default launcher when the physical camera button is pressed on the device.
The key now is to see how Microsoft rolls out the GDR2 update and how dependent the update is on carriers. GDR1 was rolled out relatively pain-free although it did launch first on AT&T in the US and then spread to the rest of the world. Let’s hope the total time for the rollout shrinks a bit this time around.
One can only hope, right?