For Windows Phone users, one of the biggest drawbacks that comes with Microsoft’s mobile platform is its lack of support for 1080p displays and quad-core processors, which effectively kept the operating system from running on phones with high-res screens and more powerful processors . Today, the company officially announced Windows Phone 8 Update 3, which fixes those problems, adds a handful of new features, and is expected to ship on new Windows devices as soon as later this month.
In an official blog post, Microsoft confirmed the long-anticipated update—previously referred to as GDR3—revealing that improved software will include support for Qualcomm’s quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor as well as 5-inch and 6-inch displays, adding a third column of Live Tiles to take advantage of increased screen real estate. A number of Live Tiles, including Mail, Photos, People and Music/Videos will be redesigned to show more content from the home screen, rather than simply offering a bigger version of the same app.
While the biggest improvements attached to the latest Windows Phone 8 update are intended for upcoming smartphones, Microsoft will also introduce a number of smaller updates geared towards improving its current devices. Users will be able to select custom sounds for text messages, email and voicemail notifications. Update 3 also adds the ability to turn off screen rotation for reading in bed, a new Driving Mode that limits on-screen notifications while you’re on the road, and improved multi-tasking that makes it easier to close multiple apps.
Microsoft hasn’t revealed an exact date when Windows Phone 8 Update 3 will be released on new devices or roll out to current smartphones. However, Windows Phone developers can get access to the OS update starting today, while the full rollout will reportedly take several months to complete. Today’s announcement is welcome news, but we’re still waiting for the next big Windows Phone upgrade, which will hopefully add a notification center, a voice activated digital assistant, and some other much-needed features.