Microsoft's new Denim update for Lumia phones coming in Q4

Microsoft's new Denim update for Lumia phones coming in Q4

Summary: Microsoft's new Denim update for Lumia phones promises a faster shooting camera and "Hey Cortana" activation.


Microsoft has announced Lumia Denim for a number of Lumia devices, differentiating them from other phones that got Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1.

At the IFA tech fair in Berlin today, Microsoft announced Denim, its new firmware update and successor to Cyan, exclusive to Lumia handsets that should start rolling out in the fourth quarter.

Denim brings a host of new imaging features to Lumia devices, as well as "Hey Cortana" voice activation, bringing it up to par with Siri and Google Now. This feature leans on Nokia's SensorCore, its hub for controlling a smartphone's numerous sensors. As the name suggests, users will be able to say "Hey Cortana" to activate the personal assistant while the phone is idle. 

Building on Nokia's legacy of imaging focus in smartphones, Denim brings more improvements to the camera and a rebranding of related apps away from the Nokia name.

Denim will carry the Lumia Camera app, instead of the former Nokia Camera-branded equivalent. Microsoft says the Lumia Camera will be faster and more intuitive, while tweaked image processing algorithms will improve low light photography. Similar improvements to low light photography landed for the Lumia 1520 with Cyan. By faster, the company means faster burst shots, which it claims will be at a rate of one every 42 milliseconds — which is about three times faster than human eye blinks.  

Denim will also include 4K-quality video recording at 24 FPS, with individual frames taken at 8.3 megapixels, in addition Auto HDR and Dynamic Flash. 

The catch, as Microsoft expands its Windows Phone partners, is that these improvements are exclusive to Lumia and, given that they're also hardware dependent, some features are not available to popular lower-end Lumia phones.

The new Lumia Camera for example is only available for the Lumia 930, Lumia Icon, and Lumia 1520 — and will come to these first as an over the air update, while the camera will arrive for the Lumia 830 in the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile the Denim update will ship with the Lumia 830, Lumia 730, and Lumia 735, while the update for existing Windows Phone 8 Lumia devices need go through the usual partner testing phase before being rolled out.

The update builds on Windows Phone 8.1 features such as Live folders, letting users create a new folder on the home screen. They can also be renamed.

Others included an "apps corner" to cordon off specific apps or games, which Microsoft says could be useful for workplace issued phones, as well as VPN for consumer phones, expanding Cyan's VPN only for the enterprise, speedier mobile site performance in IE, and the ability to set custom snooze times in the Alarm app.

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Topics: Mobility, EU, United Kingdom, Windows Phone

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • Uhh buddy...

    Lumia Denim is the newest firmware for Lumia hardware, Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 was announced a LONG time ago, I've been using it for the last few months with Cortana in Canada. Please report when it's still actual news.
    July 30th, 2014...
    • are you sure?

      I think you are referring to cyan which became a dev preview months ago, denim was announced last month in its alpha form and this is the first time regular dev program members will get it. if you already have it you are lucky enough to be in the alpha test group which from what I understand were hand selected out of the beta group.
  • ee languages for Cortana

    would be nice if MS do Cortana support for east european languages and word flow as well for the same, 'cos even cheapest Samsung phones have this kind of support, complete support for Serbian in swipe (with word prediction and google voice search too) shame that MS didn't do that yet..if they want this market, they should hurry up with these, cheers...
    Koko Bill
  • Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 != Lumia Denim

    This might be your first try at Windows Phone commentary, but, FYI, Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 is not the same thing as Lumia Denim. Lumia Denim will be a firmware update just for Lumia phones. Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 is for all Windows Phones, not just Lumia phones.
    • not so fast

      its update 4 or 5 for windows phone 8.1 :P
      • ah

        I see what your saying :P sorry I read it t fast thought you were excited and calling it update 1 XD
  • Q4... yeah, right

    Look for it late 2015Q1 - 2015Q2 if you're on VZW.

      I have been in frequent communication with Verizon Executives and Microsoft tech support personnel and I feel strongly that Verizon is currently working with Microsoft to skip the Cyan firmware update and release WP 8.1.1 with Denim Firmware in early October. I have nothing to confirm this, but since Microsoft stated that the Lumia 930, Lumia Icon and Lumia 1520 would be the first phones to receive the Lumia Denim update, "followed by the rest of the lumia line in Q4," I would assume this would mean the Lumia Icon and Lumia 1520 in the US will get the Lumia Denim firmware in early October. Let's hope I'm correct! If not, I'm leaving Verizon and going back to AT&T!
  • Is Cortana avalibility limited?

    I updated my Phone last month and it now says I have Lumia Cyan but I do not see Cortana on this yet. About says OS version: 8.10.12393.890 on this phone. I have a Lumia 625 phone, is that only available on higher end models or is it due to the fact I have turned off phone data usage and only us my home and free WiFi connections to browse the internet?
    I certainly like the extra two rows of Icons on the main screen as I was able to fit all the Icons I wanted without scrolling like I had to on Phone 8.0 OS screen. Turning that on was one of the first things I did. If you have Windows pro on your desktop/Laptop with remote access enabled they have now also added a Remote Desktop app that lets you log into it from your your phone. Its a little fiddly though as you must move the pointer to position to activate things as it does not work like a touch screen desktop would. If you have your router set up to allow outside access then you could access your home computer using the app while you are out. The notification feature once I learned how to pull it open from the top is nice also. Music Icon that used to turn from green to grey and show artist/song name info is now just static and matches the chosen color scheme or transparent to display a wallpaper picture. A FM radio app has also shown up on my phone. When I got it it did not have one and I had been using one from the app store to use its radio. Unfortunately you must use the wired headphones to use the radio as they act as antenna also. So the radio is useless if i use my Bluetooth headset.
    • yes but you should see her

      from my understanding cortana is regionally locked until they can roll out all the languages, but you should still have parts of her and you can get around it by changing your phones region.
  • how about cortana for every task?

    I would like to hear cortana read my whatsapp massages, call my Skype friends and play anything on whatsapp with voice activation on my Lumia 820, if she is that voice assistant she should be able to do all that I can do.
    • Check "See More" on Cortana's screen

      Cortana can control (or at least pass on commands) to other apps. If you want to make a Skype call from the cortana screen just say "call joe smith on video" and it will start up Skype and pass the command to it.
      The integration is available for any app but the developer needs to add the function into their app.