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Windows Phone 8.1 screenshot leaked, showing on-screen capacitive buttons

Lumia 925

The Twitter account @evleaks, which has proved to be a reliable source in the past, has today tweeted am alleged leaked screenshot of Windows Phone 8.1 "Blue." This screenshot shows virtual, on-screen capacitive buttons with the familiar back, Windows and search setup. Just like Android, you're looking at a black bar at the bottom of the screen with all three buttons present.

Rum: 8

This potential move by Microsoft would enable manufacturing partners to decide on whether or not they wish to include capacitive buttons on Windows Phone hardware. Utilising an on-screen alternative setup would bring down the cost of production even further, offering more savings to the consumer. 

Evleaks WP8.1 Tweet

As well as cost-savings, the change would also make it easier for Android OEMs to load both Windows Phone and Android on the same hardware without having to build two separate models (ATIV S and Galaxy being a good example). Manufacturers would then have less reasons not to work with Windows Phone, especially if Microsoft also slashes licensing.

Source: Twitter (@evleaks); thanks to everyone who tipped us!

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Reader comments

Windows Phone 8.1 screenshot leaked, showing on-screen capacitive buttons

229 Comments

Mostly at build 2014 (April 2-4).

I hope they release the update to the app studio users just like they did with update 3. Otherwise we will be wiating for another year.

yah... me too...

and I do like how I can easily distinguish the phone's OS by just looking into it even the screen is turned off... i know that its a windows phone if it has those 3 front buttons with the windows flag on the middle..

 

and with this news...(if it will make it to the final build)... I CAN'T IF THE SCREEN IS TURNED OFF... ALL WINDOWS PHONES NOW WILL BE MORE THE SAME WITH ANDROID...

I seem to recall a low-end WP released without a camera button. Anyone remember which phone? I think it was for an Asian country.

This seems related to the rumors that Microsoft is trying to get Android OEMs to release dual boot devices. I guess they feel once users try WP they would prefer it and having a dual boot phone means you could still access apps that aren't available.

Even if OEMs decide against dual booting, making it easier for them to release the same hardware with just a different software will help get more WP devices out there (just ship with different software, worst case you take back the unsold inventory, flash them, and sell as Androids).

Hmm... maybe they can include Hyper-V with WP8.1 and then we can run virtualized Android apps. #dreaming

I'm against the dual boot and/or virtual machine (ala Hyper-V to run Android) philosophy. Since it will doubled the storage used for both OS and makes developer less needing on porting their apps to WP. If we look back then on the era OS2 vs DOS. OS2 is a great OS with surprisingly have 99% compatibility for DOS apps. OS2 sells like a hotcakes, but OS2 apps existence is crippled since devs chose to develop for DOS instead since it can run at both OS.

I'm inclined to your second opinion that OEM can release two version of devices with exact hardware and different OS.

It is optional. Some manufacturers will keep capacitive buttons. Nokia will definitely have models with, and some without ;)

You also thought wrongly. MS isn't buying Nokia. Just the people and buildings that were their D&S division. ;P

No need to split hairs ... from consumer point of view Microsoft is buying what Nokia had always been known for .. phones. Microsoft is buying Nokia.  But you are correct, Nokia keeps their name, other business segments and certain patents.

Nokia hasn't always been known for phones and regardless of what you think, stating that Microsoft is buying Nokia is a lie.

There is no splitting hairs, you are either telling the truth or you are not. Don't spread misinformation because of your own personal opinion. Fact is, Microsoft is not buying Nokia and facts are truer than opinions.

Calm down. If you remember correctly this started because someone said "Nokia will have models with...". No. Nokia wont, because Nokia wont be making phones. Microsoft bought Nokias device devision. And mate, hate to break it to you but the average punter only knows Nokia for phones. Untwist your panties.

Thank you for your colorful comment. The fact remains that Microsoft is not buying Nokia. Your opinion, nor mine, nor the people that you classify as average punters' opinion can change the facts.

I'd rather people know the truth than to be given false information.

True or False:

Is Microsoft buying Nokia? False
Is Microsoft buying Nokia's Devices and Services Division? True

See how easy that was? Why would I go around lying and stating that Microsoft is buying Nokia when they are clearly, factually, currently are not buying Nokia.

If people don't like the word lie, then stop lying. If a person honestly thought Microsoft was buying Nokia, then maybe they didn't know the truth. Well now they know and knowing is half the battle. The other half is to act responsibly with what we know.

I choose to act responsibly with the knowledge that I have and if anyone knowingly continues to misinform people, shame on them.

Oh pls, get off the lectern, no one needs a lecture, he clearly stated it was the device division twice !

You think what I wrote is a lecture? If you reread what I wrote above, my comment was clearly directed to anyone that continues to spread misinformation and not just to whomever this "he" is that you are referring to.

Plus, if you clearly understood the reason why DJCBS wrote what he wrote then you would understand that I am clearly only talking about people who are falsly saying Microsoft is buying Nokia and if this "he" that you are referring to is actually stating the facts, devices and serviced, then that would mean that I am not directly adressing him as he would not be one of those people.

I don't know why Nokia would have phones without. I think the cost savings is they can use the same android phone for Windows Phone. Or is the capacitive buttons really that expensive to make?

You're only thinking about the cost of those three capacitive buttons, which is completely irrelevant. The bill of materials for a $750 smarthphone costs about $120, so the hardware is NEVER the source of the costs. What you are paying for when you buy a smartphone is NOT primarily the materials, but rather hardware engineering, software development, marketing and assembly/manufacturing capacity. The last issue is what we're talking about, when people mention the costs related to the three capacitive buttons...

Assume that it takes about one minute to fit the three capacitive buttons into the case and test that they function correctly. Even if your're only expecting to produce a million devices, then just that single assembly step already requires two years of manufacturing time. That is obviously unnaceptable, so you must scale the manufacturing infrastructure and completely automate QA... considering that a million devices isn't even a tenth of the volume OEMs expect to sell per year, then you can imagine that scaling manufacturing just to accomodate those three measly buttons costs real money... omitting the three hardware buttons means you can skip that entire assembly step... that's where the savings are.

"Evolution" suggests the move isn't optional for the manufacturers. Thing is, when to dial a number on a mobile phone switched generally from you pushing a few physical buttons to touching the screen...a lot of people, self included, reacted in the same way. Now it's weird to use a phone with number keys. We get used to things.

in Android 4.4 , Google has already relesead the APIs for the "Immersive mode".So developers can configure games and apps to run in full screen, with the navigation buttons only showing if you pull from the bar (Youtube already had this mode since some time ago).Problem solved!

If MS is smart and puts virtual nav buttons on their devices, they might as well do this kind of trick.

Screens that have onscreen buttons will just be taller, so they end up in the same place as they already are. The capacitive buttons already use the same digitiser as the screen, so almost nothing will change from the point of view of how they're interacted with.

Nope, we still don't have screens taller than 16:9 in phones, so it will definitely take up screen real estate and be further away from the bottom of the phone than normal.

Why is adding more pixels (not available to the OS and app) not possible? MS couldn't change the available resolution because it would create fragmentation among all the apps.

Because you'd need to create different standards in the manufacturing process to create screens with custom aspect ratio.

Now what would be more probable, OEMs increasing manufacturing costs and Microsoft having to code in new resolution into the OS itself, or for microsoft to ask the developers to change the design of their app to give space for the new on-screen buttons?

No new software resolution is required, in fact a new resolution is required in your second option, not in your first. And considering that they would be creating fragmentation for 150k apps in one fell swoop -- I think the former is more logical.

You really think they'd try to increase manufacturing cost and create a non-standard screen resolution just to support 3rd party devs? Kinda destroys the savings you'd get from not using hardware capacitive button in the first place, doesn't it?
Fragmentation to 150k apps? You mean like when they introduced 1080p support? I dont see that creating problems for the apps that are already in the store. Just like GDR3, this would most probably come earlier to developers so that they can optimize their app for the change, so it shouldn't cause too much trouble. Not as much of a hassle as having to change both software and hardware to accomodate the change, at least.

Maybe, but it would definitely bring down the price of the next 500 series phone, which would help WP a lot. So ugly or not, still a good move. :D

They absolutely need to change the way capacitive buttons work..at least an option to disable them...kids corner sucks if kids accidentally hit capacitive button..which is all the time.

Very true kids corner is a pain in the ass, and I know its (kids) corner but why restrict volume level it sucks soo much.

My "kids corner" is called "Music Room" where I keep all my music apps. Unfortunately the volume only goes to 50% which absolutely SUCKS!

Either physical buttons or the virtual would work for me. I often show someone a picture or a website on my 920 and they almost always hit the search. I would like it if the search would disappear in this mode.

I would enjoy being able to have an option to double click the buttons or have to press for it for more than a split second. The search button is clicked by mistake a dozen times a day.

That was one of the great things about my 710. Honestly its not to much of an issue with my 1520 they seem to be in a good place away from the edge.

I'm still not sure how well that would work, how to call the buttons if you want to quit sooner than the video is over? I feel like it just complicates things a bit much, but then everyone does so enjoy the complexity that Android brings! (sarcasm) =/

Why not make the bar work like the charms do in Windows 8? If I don't need them, then they stay out of the way. If I do, then I call them up with a swipe from the bottom.

Well, I will never buy a WP with on-screen buttons. So it will be the end on an era as far as I'm concerned, and I have 5 lines with all but one running WP.
But I know I can rely on Samsung to NOT joint this foolishness.

Samsung is probably one of the companies pushing for on-screen buttons, hence the example of the Ativ S and the Galaxy S3.

If ms would start doing something what Google is doing with the YouTube(for example making doc files working only on Windows, blocking Google's sites from every Windows os, and stuffs like these) wp would eat Every other platforms. (sorry for my crappy english^^)

True, chrome is a cloud based Linux or a crappy high priced version of it and I say high priced cause its unusable offline so it should cost no more then chrome cast cause its unusable outside.

Yeah and in mobile, you can do 100% of the things you can do on a computer. For playing around mobile is fun. For actually creating blue prints and designing car, buildings, ships, and telescopes you can't use your precious 8 core android phone.

Well technically they have in mobile since Android comes from Linux, right? I do apologize though, Linux hasn't done anything spectacularly better than simply reiterating free, customizable versions of windows...just an alternative reiteration. =/

I know this is a good idea from a sales perspective, but I've always preferred actual buttons versus on-screen. Yet again, I also disliked the change in smartphones from when they had buttons you could push (Samsung Windows Phone) versus the dedicated touch ones at the bottom.

Yeah... Stupid marketing decisions/fads will continue. Mobile technology is always two steps forward, one step back.

Hardware buttons are logical and functional. Capacitive buttons can't be felt, don't have any filtering for accidental touches, therefore can't be used without looking, can't turn off the led, can't be used when the phone is off... But hey, they're trendy!

I had hopes that textures, pressure activation and tactile feedback would be implemented in capacitive to restore lost functionality, but I can imagine this being the future. More steps backward....

Why would you want to use a menu, search or back button when the phone is turned off? And they can fix the accidental taps but giving you the option of double tapping to use the burton (someone here came up with that idea! Not my idea). So, if Microsoft thought about it, they COULD fix that issue. And I don't look at the buttons to hit them. So I can and do use them without being able to see them because they are in the same spot. On every WP.

You can't feel the buttons so you can't turn on the phone in your pocket and use them- that's what I mean when I said you have to be looking at them.
As far as why you would be pressing hardware buttons while the phone is off- thank about the volume buttons. How stupid would it be to have to turn on your phone to adjust the volume? That would be a terrible interface and control scheme! That is effectively what current devices have un-evolved to- with music; forcing you to turn on the phone and look at the screen, all because capacitive buttons are cheaper than the nicer alternative. I shouldn't have to turn on my phone to change the track or pause the song. I should just be able to reach in my pocket, feel for the buttons, and press which one I need accordingly. Headphone remotes are not ubiquitous enough for them to replace this feature nor do half of them support WP anyway (IOS only).

But the phone would be same size, because they could easily get rid of all the wasted space that the capacitive buttons use now. It is also a good thing, because when you are playing a game, (on android) the buttons shrink lots, so you press just below the screen to get them back. Better game screen size :)

Yes, but it'll be taken up by the on screen buttons. Maybe they wont take up space if your in a game...depends how Microsoft execute it

By pressing just below the screen. This is how android works on my nexus 10. I think there might be a setting somewhere. It doesn't always work, but 80% of the time it does.

Screen will get bigger without the actual phone getting bigger which is a good thing for me .. Plus if designed well and am sure nokia will do .. You'll be looking at some sexy phone designs.. I am sooo waiting for the new hardware.

On screen buttons suck. They remove screen real-estate, can lock up with the phone, and remove consistency between the button on tablets. If Microsoft gets around to making a phone I hope they stick with standard buttons.

I despise on screen buttons with a passion.  If this becomes the standard on WP, I might just be forced to go back to iOS :(

Idk that screenshot looks like the capacitive buttons are at the same exact place as they are on my Lumia 1020... Below the screen. Am I missing something here?

What decade are you in? Oh sorry... Well, they arnt that good, and bot many would buy, and they arnt the best.. If you're wanting buttons, go to blackberry or other OS's. Not smartphone OS's I'm afraid... :(

He makes a good point. Not to mention pushable buttons stop working making the device unusable, and requiring some type of on screen thing to continue use. Like ios's assistive touch. 

Are you talking about me? For your information, I am in my late 20's! And I actually learn to move on, not stay the same... But I guess everyone is different (don't start a massive argument now please) :(

I'm hoping that software buttons can be disabled or hidden by an in-game setting... So no accidental button pushes. That's easy for MS to do in the OS - to achieve the same with physical buttons requires the OEM to incorporate it.

Options are good but I prefer off-screen. Just a preference.

Also, if an app locks up will the on screen buttons still work? The off screen home button still works when apps freeze which is a major positive in my book.

Eh, dissapointing leak, i would like to hear anything about notification center and some other cool new feature.

True . About other basic features with some improvements and other new rare features . But this ? Lame .

On screen buttons are ugly. And those 3 are the worst. A button on metro must be inside a circle. MSFT is drunk already breaking their UI guidelines.
wonder what clusterfuck they will do for the Windows 8+ UI if they don't catch to Android on tablets.
2014 is looking like the last chance for MSFT on mobile

Buttons being in a circle isn't metro, take it from some one who designs for Windows Phone, things being in circles ≠ Metro. Metro is much more than that. They aren't breaking any design guidelines

Im a little confused Rich but how did the current design of WP cause Samsung to redesign the Galaxy series. I thought that the Galaxy S devices all had capactive buttons but only miss a physical camera button. So how would this change help them? Even the S4 has capacitive buttons and one physical Home button. I may be wrong but im just asking?

I remember when android had like a five-button selection before Windows Phone came out, then they trimmed it down to three in a similar orientation...all it takes is a small push, anything can happen

I have an lgg2 and hate the always on software buttons. As long as you can hide them then it will be fine. That's what I did oj my LG.

Look, let's not hate on this idea just because android has on screen buttons. On screen buttons are very nice and look great. Better than them cluncky ol' capacitative buttons protruding out of your device. Not everyone's going to love it but it definitely isint a bad thing. That's a big selling point for Android in sure.

What are you talking about? Capacitive buttons aren't "clunky" and they don't protrude out of your device either.
How would you know people are hating on them just because Android uses them? Some people just don't like on-screen buttons, I know I don't.

Isn't this a old photo from earlier this year, really are we falling for a recycled news story, what is this April fools

I really like the on-screen capacitive buttons, but the idea of putting android and wp on one phone is a bad idea, a windows phone should always be a windows phone! dont lose faithfulness

Hope they would improve the ui, add some options to customize,it, and a notification which ypu access wherever you are in a phone. Or else im going with an ios, since inprefer a close source than open

This would be great since the onscreen buttons would be able to change color based on the theme used, instead of having the hardware buttons do that like in the Ascend W2 (or W1, can't remember). Also, it would lead to even more customization beyond that. I'm expecting/hoping for an option in settings allowing you to change the buttons' order, which buttons appear, and will allow for more buttons and functions to those buttons to be added, either by Microsoft or a hacker/developer. Golden times ahead, ladies and gentlemen.

I feel like its gonna look so ugly because windows phone UI already has an onscreen bar with opions like settings, send, attachment. Now its gonna be 2 onscreen bars over each other and alot of people will hit the wrong virtual buttons(I mean I have a 920 and I still press the undesired buttons unintentionally)

I like to have virtual buttons instead of physical.Now i can play games peacully without worrying that i will be touching those physical buttons :-)

Booo...lol jk, but I like the haptic feedback. Its nice to have another sign that my commands are received and understood, like the sounds from the keyboard =P

Haha nooo I turn off all keyboard tones as soon as I get my phone. I also have a quiet keyboard on my PC, but I'd like it to be silent. The same with my mouse - the clicking is unnecessary :P

Disagree with them catering to OEMs/manufacturers. Pretty sure everything is going in the direction of Nokia/MS being the only player in town

Nice, going to be an avalanche of android clone devices running WP with no character, design flair or any kind of effort to display WP at its best. Another boneheaded move by the WP xbox-hating twats at Microsoft.

I'm wondering if Microsoft is doing this so they can eventually move to a Windows 8 style "charms bar" that you pull up from the bottom of the screen. That would eliminate the accidental push of the search button, etc. And further marry the two OSes.

That's the comment I was looking for. I'd be curious to try a beta with a "swipe up" motion to show the buttons to see how well that could work. May be an initial hit in discoverability, but at first thought, this could work. Of course, there could be an option to show all the time or show on the gesture, just like the Windows taskbar auto hide feature.

On screen buttons would be great for stuff like watching videos on the phone if for instance when you press play the buttons go away to give you the full screen for viewing.

I'm just trying to figure out why change causes so much distress. I honestly didn't expect to read so many strong opinions over something like this. Either way, if it lowers the cost to develop OEM hardware, that should increase OEM support and platform adoption. For those who can't deal with change, you may just have to follow through with your hollow threats to move to another platform. You guys crack me up.

Another platform to jump from? Move to another platform of existence?? Crack like glass??? (@_@ )# lol, it is to laugh...*sigh*

I still think the reason OEMs won't adopt WP is the small app store AND the lack of consumer demand. And with the definitive death of Xbox-games on WP (EA has just removed Xbox-integration from Tetris Blitz) there's absolutely no appeal to use a WP apart from the way it looks.

Anyway, I'm not sure about capacitive buttons. Nokia has always had capacitive buttons on their phones, even the ones with touch screen so I never used for a long time a phone without them. Probably they're not that essential, I guess.
I only really care if the phone has a dedicated camera button. That, to me, is way more important than the presence or not of the capacitive buttons.
Also...if that means phones without the useless "search" button always interfering, all the better. But i doubt that'll go away or get the ability to be disabled. Lets see. All of this will only concern me if Nokia still releases a last batch of phones. Otherwise I couldn't care less.

I'm one of the few here that actually likes Android, but the one thing I despise is on-screen buttons. I prefer all hardware buttons like my old LG Panther over all capacitive like the Titan II, but I'd still live with that over on-screen.

This goes against the design philosophy of MS products.... Surface has a capacitive white Windows logo, Xbox has a white capacitive Xbox logo, Windows Phone as of right now also has a white capacitive Windows logo added with two extra button.

But we're already seeing deviation from that. The Dell Venue 8 Pro doesn't have a capacitive Windows button. It's a hardware button on the edge, and I rarely use it. I use the Windows button in the Charms bar more now than I ever did before I got the Dell.

Microsoft does have standards in place if you want to see the Windows logo up front which they probably don't follow on the Venue which is why they didn't put one on there...

MS makes their own hardware while licensing their OS to other OEMs like Dell so they can still have their own design philosophy since they're designing their own hardware (Surface, Xbox)

From an engineering perspective, this makes a lot of sense... In that you can now have larger screens on smaller, less-expensive devices because now the form-factor and aspect ratio isn't limited by having a half-inch of he bottom of the device dedicated to capacitive buttons... Which are expensive themselves.

So, you can play a video and the buttons disappear, for instance.

Having said that, I prefer capacitive buttons on higher-end devices. I believe that we haven't come close yet to realizing the potential of them for visual alerting (different colors under the windows button both for visual appeal and then maybe it turns red if there's a high-priority alert of some type, blue for new text message, etc... All customizable).

I agree but only Huawei have implemented colour changing capcitive buttons on phones running WP8 (but that is only for themes). If MS goes down the route of on screen buttons I doubt we will see any other oems implement colour changing leds as notification indicators. That is one thing I miss from my blackberry days... for instance it would be laying on my desk and from the colour of the LED i know what i missed or received. However with GDR3 with custom tones it is not a big deal for me (especially since work requires me to have my phone stuck to me like glue) I rarely miss anything. Having said that, customisability is nothing more than a plus as it shows WP is more flexibile compared to the closed garden governed by iOS.

If this is Microsoft we're talking about, then I'm guessing it'll be something close to how the buttons are on Windows 8.1 IE where you have a little bar at the bottom that has 3 little buttons, if you press there, it'll bring up the Back, Home and Search button. As it stands right now on my 920, I keep hitting the Search button all the time, so maybe this will actually help that from happening (and with it being Microsoft, they like to dedicate a little processing hardware to simple tasks so there wouldn't be any lag).

I think one of the things that irritated me most when trying to use an iPhone was no capacitive buttons. No universal back button or search button was frustrating. I won't be buying a phone without them.

Having on screen has button has its pros and cons, but imo if they manage to squeeze in the buttons in the menu accessed via the three dots. That would help (like most) the amount of times I have pressed the search button when playing game like halo spartan assault really destroys the immersion and is very annoying, the same applies when watching tv via bbc iplayer (web wrapper) and tvcatchup. However if the screen locks up, your screwed and will have turn off the phone or a force a soft / warm boot. But having said that my L920 has only frozen up once on me once since Amber.

So wait, make up your minds guys...are we listening to Eldar or not? You can't just say, "Ignore when he says things" then go, "oh listen to what news Eldar brings..." I'm con-foose-ed... Eldar Scrawls: Lumia Legends ;p

I understand, and it is a smart move to include on-screen buttons because it gives them more options with hardware. I've always been disappointed with that feature of Android as it always looks horrible and the screens were never set up to recognize it very well. However the Windows Phone operating system is much more stable than Android so it might not be that bad, and more options is normally a good thing as long as quality and user experience are not sacrificed in the mean time. Personally given the choice, I would stick with capacitive buttons. And as long as they stick around I'm happy :-) 

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