Windows Phone 8.1 to Feature Universal Apps and Loss of Back Button?

Windows Phone 8.1 could bring universal applications and support for more high-end hardware to Microsoft’s mobile platform, according to reports.

Citing a reliable source with information, long-time Microsoft watcher Paul Thurrott believes that users can expect a huge list of landmark changes from the Windows Phone 8.1 update due next year.

Allegedly, Windows Phone 8.1 will introduce new universal binaries that allow applications to work on both Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows RT. While the app binaries won’t be a developer requirement initially, at some point the company will require all apps submitted to the Windows Store to work with Windows RT and Windows Phone. In theory this will allow users to purchase applications on Windows Phone and have them work on Windows RT. Windows RT is the operating system that Microsoft licenses for use in ARM processor-based tablets like the Surface 2.

Windows Phone 8.1 could include fixes and updates for multitasking too. Unfortunately, today’s report doesn’t go into much detail about what Microsoft has planned, however it does indicate that Microsoft has made fixing multitasking a high-priority. Today, Windows Phone allows users to quickly switch between applications. Anything outside of that like notifications and running processes in the background are pretty unreliable.

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Windows Phone 8.1 could remove the back button from Windows Phone’s hardware requirement.

Though the rumored support for 10-inch displays seems a bit odd, it’s the rumors of Microsoft dropping the requirement of a physical back button that longtime Windows Phone users will find the most intriguing. Reportedly, Windows Phone will drop the back button requirement in favor forcing users to rely on the Start Button on every Windows Phone device. Thurrott didn’t share any details about how this will change multitasking on Windows Phone. Windows Phone 8 and Windows Phone 7 allows users to switch between applications by holding the back button today.

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Unfortunately, users are still months away from finding out if these reports are true first-hand. While rumors of Windows Phone 8.1 have swirled since early this year, leaks indicate that the company won’t ship the update until early 2014. In the meantime, the company is filling in feature gaps with small releases.

Read: Lumia 1520 Phablet Appears With Flip Cover and 1080p HD Display

Windows Phone GDR3 will add support for faster processors and larger screen sizes sometime before Windows Phone 8.1 ships. It’s that version of Windows Phone that could power the Nokia Lumia 1520 phablet that Nokia is expected to debut at its October 22nd event.

 

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