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

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.