Software giant Microsoft Corp. has unveiled its Windows Phone 8 Update 3 software on Oct. 14, 2013 as well as its plans to focus on promoting its phablets or smartphone-tablet hybrids. The move was done to recover from the unsuccessful release of its separate smartphones and tablets. The unveiling of the said software is also aimed at competing against Apple's iOS and Google's Android operating systems.
According to Windows Phone blog, several new features and improvements are added in the update, such as a bigger Start screen for six Live Tiles, Mobile Accessibility for Windows Phone 8 and a customizable Driving Mode.
Mobile Accessibility for Windows Phone 8 is a suite of apps for persons with visual impairment. It includes a screen reader for visually impaired and blind users. This helps them with managing their contacts, answering calls, browsing the Internet and sending emails and texts.
It also aids them in making calls using Lync or Skype, as well as notifying them for calendar events and even low-battery warnings.
The software is engineered for 5- and 6-inch touch screen devices. It will enable a larger 1080p HD display on these devices. Its built-in apps and Hubs like email, People, Music, Photos and Videos will scaled to maximize the new screens.
The Driving Mode was designed with safety in mind. It was included to address the alarming rate of road accidents due to driving while using a gadget. It works with a device connected through Bluetooth technology.
Driving Mode limits the device' notifications including calls, texts and status alerts on the lock screen until the user is parked safely. Plus, it can send automatic replies to people who text or call a user when he or she is driving. This is a very convenient feature which allows people to inform others that they are unable to respond immediately because they are driving. No more missed messages and no fights with loved ones either.
Other features included in the Windows Phone 8 Update 3 are better Internet Sharing, a rotation lock option to keep screens fixed in place, customized ring tones for specific tasks, new storage settings, an App switcher to close apps easily, improved Bluetooth connection and the ability to connect to Wi-Fi during phone set up.
In addition to its software update is a hardware update featuring the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor to add more horsepower and aid in the performance of its operating system.
Research analyst firm International Data Corporation (IDC) shows that Windows Phone has a 3.7 percent share of the smartphone operating system market in the 2nd quarter compared with 13 percent for iOS and 79 percent for Android.
Obviously, Windows has a lot of ground to cover in order to catch up with Android and iOS. That's why they decided to concentrate and promote their phablets or phone-tablets instead.
IDC predicts that global shipments of phablets will more than double to 60.4 million in 2013. However, more than 1 billion smartphones are also expected to be shipped in 2013.
Darren Laybourn, VP for Windows Phone in Redmond Washington said that the Windows Phone 8 Update 3 will roll out to users in the coming months.
"The rollout initially kicks off in the coming weeks and will continue over several months. Specific timing depends on a number of factors including your carrier and phone model," he said.
Until then, fans of Windows Phone 8 will have to wait to test out if the Windows Phone 8 Update 3 software and its phablets indeed measure up to Apple's iOS and Google's Android systems.
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