Windows Phone News

Concerns over Microsoft's purchase of Nokia have been highlighted in some regions, including China and Korea. The former country has since approved the deal with the Ministry of Commerce of the People's Republic of China giving the green light. While the deal itself has been subject to regulatory and other customary approvals, some competitors have voiced concerns over the strengthening position Microsoft will have patents-wise.

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No, you’re not literally wearing the same shirt that Joe Belfiore wore last week during the day one keynote at Build 2014. Hopefully that one has been washed and framed at the Belfiore residence as a trophy for all the hard work that went into Cortana. But you too can join history and show off your support for Cortana on Windows Phone. Microsoft’s company store has the swag up for sale. Details below.

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New information revealed to Windows Phone Central confirms that Microsoft is planning at least two OS updates for Windows Phone 8.1 in 2014. Internally known as ‘general distribution releases – or GDRs –  GDR1 and GDR2 are already on the roadmap for this year, with a possible third one in 2015 before the next OS revision, codenamed ‘Threshold’.

It should be of little surprise that Microsoft plans on repeating the same update schedule for Windows Phone 8 for 8.1, as it has proven to be a relatively successful method for adding new features to the OS and keeping Windows Phone in the news. A twelve-month cycle for major OS revisions also seems to be the new norm both for Phone and Windows.

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Last week, Microsoft finally unveiled Windows Phone 8.1 to the world. One of the subtle new features was the Word Flow keyboard, which brings ‘shape writing’ to the mix, in addition to the familiar ‘touch typing’ for text input. Developed by Microsoft Research, the technology behind Word Flow is completely unique to Redmond, being proprietary technology and building off of the already excellent auto-complete feature. Heck, it now even predicts emoji for you too.

We demoed the new keyboard in our hands-on video but now it’s been confirmed to be the fastest in the world. In a video posted by Microsoft Research a few days ago – and lost in our shuffle – Word Flow can certainly hold its own as it was used to set the world record for fastest keyboard by a 15-year old named Gaurav Sharma.

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If you’ve been eagerly awaiting Miracast support in Windows Phone 8.1, and are excited that you’ll be able to upgrade your Windows Phone, you may have to pipe down slightly as your current device may not be compatible. This news comes from Joe Belfiore on Twitter, stating that only the Nokia Lumia 1520 from current (and previous) generation Windows Phones may be compatible.

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This was a very busy week for all of us here at Windows Phone Central. We went up to San Francisco to attend Build 2014. There Microsoft officially announced Windows Phone 8.1, a new update to Windows 8.1, Windows on Devices and much more. Friday we snuck up to Petaluma, California to visit TWiT Studios for an in-studio taping of Windows Weekly 356. Daniel Rubino joined Mary Jo Foley, Paul Thurrott and Leo Laporte for an episode to talk all about //BUILD/ and beer.

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When it comes to video playback on Windows Phone, especially YouTube, things can get a little complicated. We won’t rehash the whole Google-Microsoft tiff over an official app again, but what we can share with you is some details about how Microsoft worked really hard on Windows Phone 8.1’s HTML5 video capability.

We recently spoke with a Microsoft Program Manager who worked on the IE 11 HTML5 audio/video features, including all the details of the modifications. They’re quite significant, and we’re confident that once you learn about them, you’ll be even more excited to pick up the 8.1 bits in the coming weeks.

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Windows Phone developers are poised to have happy days ahead. At Build 2014 Microsoft detailed plans to overhaul and improve much of the processes that have hindered development, including unifying apps across Windows 8.1 update 1 and Windows Phone 8.1, improved automated certification, and the ability to reply to user reviews in the Windows Phone Store.

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The Nokia Lumia 930 announced during Build is in many the perfect Lumia. There are just two features that are missing that may keep it from being the best Windows Phone on the market: no micro SD card and no Glance screen.

The lack of a micro SD card is perhaps not that bad, considering that the Lumia 930 ships with 32 GB of internal storage. Despite the grumbles in comments here about this missing feature, most regular people actually do quite fine with 32 GB. Glance though is a bit different. Much like the Lumia Icon on Verizon, the Lumia 930 will also not have Glance. It’s an odd omission, for sure.

Yesterday we sat down with Nokia though and were able to ask why that is. Here’s what we learned.

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Yesterday Nokia announced three new Windows Phones for the smartphone buying public. They are the Lumia 630, Lumia 635 and Lumia 930. The Lumia 630 is notable for being the first dual-SIM Windows Phone. It’ll also be available before the Lumia 930, making it the first Windows Phone 8.1 device you’ll be able to buy. We went and did a hands-on with the dual-SIM version of the Lumia 630. Check it out.

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Yesterday, Nokia announced the Nokia Lumia 930, a new flagship device running Windows Phone 8.1. That phone is due for release in the coming weeks and for all intents and purposes, it’s the same hardware as the Nokia Lumia Icon for Verizon. There are two differences though: color options, which is obvious and something more subtle: Dolby Digital Plus audio recording.

According to Nokia, this is the first time a smartphone will have this ability and we don’t doubt it. The feature is still technically in development and while we were able to see the configuration options in settings, we are not able to show you them just yet (the phone was a special version, not on display for the media, though it’s the one I’m holding in my hand in the video below).

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With as much as we've learned about Windows Phone 8.1 in the past two days, there were still some things left up in the air. Like how close was Microsoft to being done? And when would users get to see it on their devices? We're closer to those answers today, with a letter leaked to Neowin indicating that it could very well be very soon.

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Last night we went to visit Nokia at their #moreLumia event here in San Francisco. There wasn’t anything new learned there, it served more as a recap with Stephen Elop over the announcement made earlier of the Lumia 630, Lumia 635 and Lumia 930. We did get hands-on time with the devices and even some others that didn’t get too much time in the limelight. Lime...Green…Green Lumia 1520. It’s awesome.

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This isn’t so much news as just something to chew on while you wait for the Windows Phone 8.1 bits to rollout in the coming weeks. Cortana, the recently announced personal voice-assistant app, is being programmed to have quite the personality. Much like Apple’s Siri, Cortana will not only answer your legitimate real-life questions, but she will respond with wit and humor when asked non-serious inquires too.

We spent a few minutes playing around with a recent build of Cortana, and the video above speaks for itself. We’re sure Microsoft will be adding even more amusing responses to her repertoire over the coming weeks. Likewise, we’re sure you’ll post your curious findings in our Cortana forums for others to enjoy.

Want to see more? Make sure you watch our exclusive Cortana video tour.

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The Windows Phone native calendar. Let’s not mince words, it was quite…basic. Limited views, restricted features – Microsoft practically forced third-party developers to make alternatives, such as Simple Calendar or Cal. But even those had OS limitations due to constrained APIs.

With Windows Phone 8.1, Microsoft certainly gave the native calendar a much needed overhaul. We managed to miss it in our earlier coverage – not a shocker when you consider all the new changes – so we figured we would revisit this core OS feature and show you what’s new. Head past the break to catch our video!

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