It’s unclear whether Microsoft’s Lumia Denim update is rolling out worldwide, but its release is definitely getting closer. Shortly after reports indicated that Lumia Windows Phone users in China were getting Lumia Denim, Microsoft added a new YouTube video to its support pages guiding users through the new features included in the update.
The Lumia Denim update video shows off all of the features users who are getting the software upgrade can expect. Detailed back in September, the Lumia Denim update is a small feature bump for Windows Phones running Windows Phone 8.1. According to Microsoft, features are split into those that’ll be for all Windows Phones and the upgrades specific to Lumia devices.
Ecosystem-wide features include better Cortana support and support for Bluetooth integration with contacts and reminders. Thrown in there are some serious improvements to Microsoft’s calendar app. Live Tiles are great for checking notifications and getting the latest information. They aren’t small though, in Windows Phone 8.1 there was no way to organize and combine Live Tiles besides rearranging them or changing their shape. Lumia Denim adds Live Folders for better organization. Users can group similar tiles into one Live Tile that still shows updates in real time.
App Corners are an entirely separate beast. Creating one almost gives users a second Start Screen to customize. Microsoft is billing App Corners as an easy way to hide apps and services in a business environment. With Lumia Denim, merging text messages and forwarding individual messages is finally something users can do. You may already have seen some of these features on different Windows Phones already.
There are some things that are completely specific to Lumia Windows Phones and mostly they’re related to the hardware and apps that come in Lumia devices. Lumia Denim includes a faster loading camera experience called Lumia Camera. Presumably, that feature alone should have Lumia owners clamoring for the update. Historically, Nokia’s Camera app has had very bad loading times. With the update, some Lumia Windows Phones will finally be able to capture 4K video, though it’ll be limited to 24 frames per second with Moment Capture. Auto HDR and Dynamic flash are included in the update too, as is new code for getting better quality shots.
Finally, Lumia Denim adds a key feature user have been waiting for. Cortana, the digital personal assistant that made its debut with Windows Phone 8.1 has gotten high marks for combining many of the features of Apple’s Siri and Google’s Google Now assistant. For a while, all three were pretty feature competitive until Apple and Android device makers both rolled out software updates that allow their personal assistant to be activated without even pushing a button. The Lumia Denim update lets users simply say, “Hey, Cortana.” She’ll immediately open and listen for further instructions. Unfortunately, only three Lumias are compatible with that feature today, the Lumia 930, Lumia Icon and Lumia 1520.
Naturally, the lack of transparency on the Lumia Denim update is a bit troubling. Nokia Devices and Services, now Microsoft Mobile, has said next to nothing about the update.
Getting these small updates is key for a decent Windows Phone experience. Essentially, the Windows Phone experience users get is a combination of two different things: firmware from the hardware maker and software from Microsoft. The two play off each other and sometimes you can run into a situation where a device has one update but is missing the other. For example, Lumia Denim is just starting its world-wide rollout, meanwhile Verizon Wireless Windows Pone users are still waiting for Lumia Cyan, the update that preceded Lumia Denim. Microsoft kicked off the Lumia Cyan Update back in July.
GottaBeMobile will keep an eye out for any more news on the Lumia Denim Update as it arrives.