Nokia adds new App Folders feature to its 'Black' Windows Phone 8 firmware

Nokia adds new App Folders feature to its 'Black' Windows Phone 8 firmware

Summary: Nokia starts rolling out globally its 'Black' firmware update for Lumia Windows Phone 8 handsets that adds support for App Folders.


Nokia is kicking off its  global update to the "Black" firmware release it has been making available on a more limited basis across its Windows Phone 8 Lumia line, according to a January 9 post on the Nokia Conversations blog.


Black is the final name for the firmware update that formerly was codenamed "Bittersweet Shimmer." Nokia developed Black to supplement Windows Phone 8 devices running Update 3. Nokia and some carriers have been making available  Black and Update 3 on some select handsets for the past month-plus.

There's a new surprise feature in the update to Black that many hadn't been realized: Support for App Folders. App Folders allow users to group similar apps within a single tile on their Start Screens (as seen in the image at right). Some Microsoft watchers are wondering whether App Folders may end up becoming the replacement to Hubs in Windows Phone.

Update: Many users are reporting that they don't see the App Folders feature. It may be the case that this will be added via an update to the Black update. I've asked Nokia for more information as to how and when users can get this functionality.

Update No. 2: Here's the App Folders feature. It's actually an app that's downloadable from the Windows Phone Store now. And Lumia users don't need the Black firmware to make use of it. It seems to work on most/all of the Lumia Windows Phone 8 handsets.

Other features in the Black update:

  • Nokia Glance screen 2.0: In addition to displaying time, the Glance screen can include other kinds of notifications, like phone calls, messages, e-mail, calendar, Tweets or any other apps using notifications.
  • Support for Bluetooth LE (Low Energy)
  • Support for Nokia Refocus app
  • Support for Nokia Beamer, which allows users to beam photos, documents, presentations and other kinds of information to any HTML5-enabled screen by scanning a QR code on the screen. (Available to all Lumias with 1 GB of RAM and up)
  • Unification of Nokia Pro Camera and Smart Camera into a single app for the whole Lumia range
  • Raw DNG support for Lumia 1020 users
  • Updated imaging algorithms, including a new oversampling algorithm for photos

According to Nokia, the Black update is starting to roll out immediately for Lumia 1020 and 925 phones in China first. Other models and markets will get it in the "coming weeks." (Here's an availability chart with Nokia-provided dates.)

Lumias automatically check for updates every week, but users can push the update to phones by going to Settings, then Phone Update and checking manually.


Topics: Windows Phone, Microsoft, Smartphones


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Verizon

    AS USUAL, Lumia 928 Black update "Waiting Approval".
    • LOL!

      I thought the exact same thing.
      • see if the dev preview has it.

        bypass the carrier.
        • Not available on AT&T yet

          No dev preview for Lumia 920 on AT&T
          • AT&T not the problem (for once)

            The developers preview of GDR3 is available to all (US only?), independent of carriers. However, having the dev preview of GDR3 doesn't get you the Lumia Black update any faster. I do have the dev preview on my Lumia 920 on AT&T, and still don't have access to the Lumia Black update, but since I flashed my ROM to unbrand AT&T from it (it now functions like a French developers phone), it will now receive the updates for a French country variant phone, which has the update listed as "Available - Coming soon".

            By the way, flashing the ROM to remove AT&T from the mix also means that I was able to get Data Sense (which AT&T strips out for all WP users) and Internet Data Tethering for free (which AT&T charges a sizable monthly fee for).
          • AT&T

            Does doing thing allow you to enable you Internet Sharing?
        • Dev Preview

          The dev Preview only lets you download Microsoft's part of the software. You have to get the actual Phone side of the software from your carrier.

          Maybe in July...
  • Nokia adds new App Folders feature to its 'Black' Windows Phone 8 firmware

    And this is why Nokia will still be around even without their hardware division. They just make all around good software for Microsoft Windows Phone. Hopefully Verizon won't sit too long on the update.
  • This is news?

    I swear I've been updated to black now for about a month on ATT if not more. I have photo beamer, DNG/RAW support, Nokica refocus, and the new Glance. The versions even match up. Still can't figure out the APP folder thing though.

    So what's really new, since I've been running this from ATT for a bit now?
    • What phone do you have?

      Black was released a bit ago for the 1020 (I believe), but no other phones.
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
  • finally figured it out.

    Ah figured out the app folders, it wasn't in the app store 2 hours ago, it is now. Interesting it has to be an "app," and not a native function like in iOS or android where you just drag and hold.
    • Hey!

      App Folders is in the store and installable on GDR3 if you have it. Just creating a Photography folder cleaned up my Start Screen immensely!

      Not in "Nokia Collection", search from the store home page for App Folders.
  • App Folders, a revolution for mobile phones

    WP8 is sooo much ahead of its competition.

    But just wait, in some years iOS will also allow you to group apps in folders.
    • This is a weak joke

      Here are more things for you:
      No VPN
      Top apps missing. You just pick what is "top" for you
      Ugly tiles without rounded corners
      No notification center
      No flux vortex tracking application
      OMG LOL
    • iOS needed the app folders though

      that is where iPhone users hid the icons they can't remove from the desktop or uninstall from the computer.

      Hurray for the enhanced user experience of iOS!
    • How old are you kid

      I'm guessing from the nature of your post, about 9
  • Does this mean the Phone will be running Black and Blue?

  • All I can say is

  • HTC 8X?

    Will I be getting any of these eventually on my HTC 8X? I kind of feel left out recently... nobody seems to know HTC even makes/made Windows Phone...
    • No

      This (Black) is a Nokia update (developed by Nokia, for Lumia phones), not Windows Phone in general (that was GDR3, which should already be available for 8X).

      On the other hand, perhaps some of it might make it into a later update after it all falls under Microsoft. I doubt other OEMs would be happy if Microsoft keeps any software features exclusive to its (then-)own hardware, so they might avoid it.
      Matjaž Miler