Windows Phone 8 GDR3 official and available now for developers

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Microsoft has today unveiled the next minor update to Windows Phone 8 hot on the heels of AT&T finally getting around to releasing GDR2 for devices on their network. If you’re not familiar with the GDR releases, they stand for General Distribution Release and are similar to service packs or minor feature updates for the platform.

GDR3 marks the final update to Windows Phone 8 before the company moves on to Windows Phone 8.1 in early 2014. According to WPCentral, GDR3 is expected to land on devices in the next few weeks and brings the following new features:

  • Support for 1080p display for new devices like the Lumia 1520
  • Support for new processors including Qualcomm’s Snapdragon MSM8974 quad-core CPU
  • Close apps by tapping on the X on top right in multitasking view. The icon of the app appears below.
  • Custom tones for text or IM, voicemail, email and reminders (confirmed earlier by Windows Phone Central)
  • Better storage management: New storage settings make it easier to free up space on your phone and manage temporary files. A new category view shows what’s taking up space at a glance.
  • Screen Rotation lock: When auto-rotate screen is off, your screen will stay in the current orientation when you rotate your phone.
  • Driving Mode: Turns of all notifications except texts and phone calls when you’re driving. You can also turn calls and texts off completely or set Driving Mode to text and automatic reply like “Hey, I am driving right now. I’ll reply you later.” Driving Mode can start automatically when your phone connects to a Bluetooth device.
  • Connect to Wi-Fi in OOBE when switching on your new phone for the first time or after you your reset your phone, so you can restore your data even before connecting to a cellular network.
  • Attach Office files (.doc, .xls, .ppt) and .pdf files in email.

This is the best news, though: Microsoft has announced a new developer preview program where registered developers are able to get early access to the update (and future updates) by meeting a set of criteria:

  • Your phone is “developer-unlocked”
  • You’re a registered Windows Phone Store developer OR
  • You’re a registered Windows Phone App Studio developer

Once you’ve met those criteria you’ll simply need to head over to the store and download the “Preview for Developers” app which will unlock the install.

Obviously this is a replacement for the “Windows Phone Enthusiast” program that never eventuated. Anyone can register for the program but it requires payment of the yearly $99 developer fee. More information is available here about the program.

Source: Windows Blog