Oddly, Microsoft still plans to release another minor update to Windows Phone 8.1 between now and this summer’s Windows 10 launch. And while we don’t yet know all that much about it, a few interesting details have emerged about Windows Phone 8.1.2.
We’ve known since last year that Microsoft originally planned a Windows 8.1.2 release—also called Windows Phone 8.1 Update 2 and Windows Phone 8.1 GDR2 (General Distribution Release) depending on who’s talking—but with Windows 10 seizing the limelight in recent months, many assumed Microsoft wouldn’t bother to keep updating its about-to-be-orphaned smart phone OS. But 8.1.2 is apparently still happening.
Pre-installed on new phones
Windows Phone 8.1.2 will be preinstalled on new Windows Phone handsets going forward. The first two we know about are the Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL.
Bluetooth keyboard support
I reported earlier this week that Microsoft plans to ship a Universal Foldable Keyboard later this year that will support Windows, Android and iOS. But here’s a shocker: that keyboard will also support Windows Phone, which is a first. But that support will require Windows Phone 8.1.2 or newer, since current Windows Phone versions do not support the Bluetooth keyboard profile.
This means, of course, that Windows Phone 8.1.2 will support any Bluetooth keyboard, not just Microsoft’s.
Via a new Quick Text button on the Word Flow keyboard—similar to where the Paste button goes in the Suggestion bar when in use—you can now fire off one or more pre-built quick texts, which are text and phrases you’ve configured. It comes pre-supplied with common phrases—”I’m running late, see you soon!” and “Sounds good!” for example—and works much like the current ability to respond to a phone call with a text.
While in Barcelona for Mobile World Congress this week, Windows Central’s Mark Guim started toying around with the demo 640s and discovered something interesting: Windows Phone 8.1.2 will let you pin individual Settings apps to the Start screen. This is something I’ve wanted since the first version of Windows Phone.
But that’s not all that’s changing in Windows Phone 8.1.2 Settings: Now, all the Settings apps are listed on a single screen, instead of using a pivot with Settings and Applications as in current versions. And you can finally search for settings, which is crucial since the layout of Settings apps in Windows Phone is arbitrary and varies from phone to phone. Finally. (Windows 10 further improves this display, of course.)