Windows Phone 8.1: The latest on what's on the leaked feature list

Windows Phone 8.1: The latest on what's on the leaked feature list

Summary: Microsoft developers will be able to reuse more of their code when building Windows Phone and Windows Store apps, according to new alleged leaks about Windows Phone 8.1.

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Less than a day after Microsoft is said to have provided select developers with access to its Windows Phone 8.1 software development kit, leaks about many of the alleged features coming in WP 8.1 hit the Web.

Up until now, there had been relatively few specifics about the Windows Phone 8.1 (codenamed "Blue") that had escaped Redmond. Word of plans for a coming notification center and the Microsoft Siri competitor codenamed "Cortana" had leaked. But details around the changes at the programming-interface level had been more guesses than anything.

Now, however, there's evidence that Microsoft has made some actual advances toward increased commonality between its Windows Phone and WinRT programming interfaces.

A self-identified Windows Phone developer published screen shots and details about the new "Universal App" template that will allow developers to reuse more of their Windows Store and Windows Phone code when building apps using JavaScript and HTML. Increased code reuse across platforms is one of the promises that Microsoft has made to its developers for the past year-plus.

That developer (going by the name "wpthrowaway" on Reddit) published this alleged screen shot of the Microsoft Connect portal that mentions "Universal App":

wpblueleak

"(A)pps now can share XAML between WinRT and WP8 (sometimes whole pages)," wpthrowaway said.

Microsoft isn't expected to provide a common app store for Windows Phone and Windows Store apps until 2015, according to what I've heard from my contacts. But greater code use is a key step toward enabling this.

The Verge published a number of other features that are believed to be part of Windows Phone 8.1 based on the latest leaks, as has WPCentral. Among these claimed features:

  • Integrated VPN support (Previously, Microsoft execs had said VPN support would be coming as part of a separate "Enterprise Pack.")
  • Battery Power Sense feature
  • New podcast app
  • IE 11 browser update with WebGL support (plus ability to play YouTube videos on the page)
  • Facebook account integration removed from Contacts hub
  • PlayTo support
  • Single sign-on persists across apps
  • Updated camera layout

Microsoft officials, predictably, are not commenting as to whether any of these leaked features are real.

"We regularly involve our developer community in a variety of private programs. We have nothing to share broadly about our recent developer outreach," a spokesperson said via a statement.

Microsoft took a lot of heat for holding off on providing its phone developers with early access to the Windows Phone 8 software development kit. This year, it seems the Softies decided to take the risk, even though the possibility of leaks would -- and seemingly did -- rise exponentially.

Update: RomanL (@AngelWZR on Twitter) has posted information indicating that there will be a separate Facebook "Blue" app that may be built into the Windows Phone 8.1 OS.

From what looks like official developer documentation, shared by RomanL: "Users can no longer broadcast share to multiple networks. Users of Twitter, Facebook, Sina Weibo and LinkedIn must use apps for these social networks to compose, post, and update. Facebook Blue is built into Windows Phone (code-named "Blue").

Developers also will still be able to "create a Silverlight-based Windows Phone (code-named “Blue”) app using C# or Visual Basic, or ... upgrade an existing Windows Phone 8.0 app to Windows Phone (code-named “Blue”)," according to additional information RomanL shared. In this case, Silverlight 8.1 refers to a new app model (not a new version of Silverlight) that will allow developers to enable their older apps to take advantage of some of the new Windows Phone 8.1 features, I hear.

Update No. 2 (February 12): RomanL is at it again. Here's a screen capture of more information from the developer preview about the "Universal App" concept:

universalapps

As I noted yesterday, there are still two stores at this point: Windows Phone Store and Windows Store and two separate AppX packages. But there's one shared template, as of Windows Phone 8.1. 

Topics: Windows Phone, Microsoft, Smartphones, Software Development, ARM

About

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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64 comments
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  • Windows Phone 8.1: The latest on what's on the leaked feature list

    Supposedly there will be a notifications center, which if true will be a great feature. Corporate execs are going to love the integrated VPN if that rumor is true. Developers should be getting in on this early if they want their apps to be visible. Hopefully Microsoft Windows Phone 8.1 will be released soon.
    Loverock.Davidson
    • NDA

      Developers are starting to receive invites to participate in the WP8.1 beta SDK to test their apps, however under non-disclosure agreement. I assume they want to keep secret lots of updates/changes to come. My guess is that a release is only a few months away. April?
      Sean Foley
      • Surely an error somewhere

        We all know LD to be a poster with very high credibility in this forum. He ALWAYS tells the truth (as microsoft sees it).
        Smalahove
      • ha ha ha

        yeah right. during the 8.0 beta, everybody was wondering if they were holding back. fear not, this is MSFT, they never hold back. your failed expectations is what the wp team does best.
        neonspark
    • Whats with all the flags?

      How can there be 34 flags on this one post?
      jthompso@...
      • Infinite loop

        Just an infinite loop in one of linux voting bots :)
        paul2011
      • Someone with a lot of aliases....

        ...and an agenda!
        toph36
        • A challenge!

          Can 413 flags be beaten?

          Give it a shot.

          We know desperation when we see it.
          Economister
        • Seriously? 413 Flags

          C'mon ZD - you're not able to prevent this kind of abuse of your feedback functionality?
          Nierteroth9
    • wow.. a notification center and VPN support!

      Congratulations Microsoft, you just caught up with donut android from 5 years ago.

      Progress!
      frankieh
  • I so wish Windows Phone would catch up to Android and iOS

    As a Xaml and Asp.Net MVC dev, it would be an easy transition to Windows phone. However, their phone OS has been years behind Android and iOS. I'm not sure they can catch up. I'm rooting for them. But now, it gain market share, WP8.x will need to be better than Android and iOS. That's a tall order. Moving to a similar code base across Windows platforms would go a long way.
    A Gray
    • I left Android for Windows Phone . . .

      . . .and I am surprised at how happy I am. No more freezing. No more multiple attempts to update apps. No more phantom calls that never ring. No worries about battery life. Much smoother touch screen. I can actually feel the vibration when I get a notification. Not a memory hog. etc. My wife still has her Galaxy Nexus, and she can't wait to get out of it. Every time she uses my phone she gets jealous.
      Detfan
      • Glad you enjoy it

        I have yet to find Winphone to be as useful or as flexible as Android.
        rhonin
        • My experience

          I would love to jump to Windows Phone if my carrier offered it. I have Android now and I can't believe how often Android apps crash. Chrome crashes several times a day on me. I'm still shocked how a internet company like Google can't create a stable mobile browser. Desktop Chrome is great, but mobile Chrome is awful.
          Jason Joyner
        • compare an old nexus phone to a new WP..,

          Oh well. Traditionally MS have liked a stacked playing field.. They were convicted for it twice.. Why should this be any difference. Compare to a nexus 5. A 400 dollar new phone and then see what the experience is like. Android is perfectly smooth on my nexus 7 2012 and GS3.. And I don't have many app crashes.., can't remember the last one.
          frankieh
          • Nexus 7 apps do crash...

            I have both, a nexus 7 2012, and Lumia 925 - the lumia is a much smoother experience, and never yet had an app crash on it.

            Nexus on the other hand - with no apps running, lovely and smooth, but like others have said, numerous app crashes per day

            MS can learn a lot from Android and iphone, but for me, the interface is much nicer, stability is a lot better. The wife looks on in awe when we're out shopping, and I look something up on the internet on my 925, her iphone on the other hand, has barely started searching, by the time I've found what I'm looking for. This happens so often, and we're both on the same network!
            tony_park
        • Which have you tried?

          n/t
          Nierteroth9
      • There is such thing as a crap Android device.

        From the sound of your experience, you owned a piece of low-end trash that didn't perform well at all.

        If you do your research and get a proper, well-designed device, none of those issues you mentioned are even remotely true and you get a OS that's miles ahead of WP in flexiblity.

        My Nexus 5 never crashes, never freezes, I've never even heard of phantom phone calls, has the best touchscreen I've ever used next to iOS devices (which have been proven to have some of the best touch response), has a larger more expensive vibration motor (Apple swapped out this type of motor in the iPhone 4S-5 transition, you can look it up), etc. Performance is by far better than any other device I've seen (even the iPhone 5S—the N5 boots up and shuts down in less than half the time).

        The Moto G is a case in point of the best low-end design around. Incredible performance, great RAM management, INCREDIBLE battery life (6 hours of SoT over 2 days of use), etc, all for $150 off contract in many places.

        Windows Phone is like iOS in that it is tightly controlled in all respects. Android is not, you just need to do your digging in advance to find out what the best device on the platform is for you.
        Walkop
        • Kind of

          Certainly there are great Android devices and not so great Android devices depending on how much you're willing to spend. However, with Windows phone you get a great experience regardless of how much money you spend. Even low spec phones have no problems running the OS fluidly.

          Windows phone does have a lot of catching up to do in terms of features, but the code base it is being built upon is simply superior in terms of performance and stability. This is why people love using Windows phone and are willing to wait for the features that the other platforms have long had.

          As for the quality of touch screens, Apple does not have the best touch screens, though they are good, the honour goes to Nokia which produces the only phones with touch screens sensitive enough to be used with gloves on.
          vincewansink
    • agreed

      saying windows phone or windows 8 in the enterprise is like a four letter word. its all android, and iOS as far as enterprise cares. to even suggest wp development side by side is like suggesting a unionized workforce.
      neonspark