In Windows Phone 8.1, Microsoft added the ability to select custom volume levels for different activities. The most obvious change is that you automatically get different volume levels for the phone ringer and notifications, and for media and apps. But if you use external speakers and other devices, the volume controls will adapt for them as well.
Here’s what you need to know about custom volume settings in Windows Phone 8.1.
You control volume with the hardware volume buttons as before. Every Windows Phone handset comes with hardware Volume Up and Volume Down buttons, and you still use these buttons to access the on-screen volume controls. If you press either button, a volume notification will appear at the top of the screen, letting you see and change the volume level for the phone ringer and notifications.
The volume notification will appear on top of the playback controls. If you are (or were recently) playing audio of some kind—music with the Xbox Music app, perhaps, or a podcast with the Podcasts app—the volume notification will appear on top of the playback controls when you press a hardware volume button.
The volume notification is interactive. The volume notification isn’t just a display. For example, you can drag the slider to change the volume level—though pressing the volume buttons works too, of course.
You can use the volume notification to toggle vibration. Tap the VIBRATE button in the lower left of the volume notification to toggle call and notification vibration between on and off.
You can use the volume notification to change the volume for apps and games. Tap the little caret control to display a second volume slider for apps and games (like Xbox Music and Podcasts). As you will notice, apps and games volume is on a scale from 1 to 30, while the ringer and notifications goes from 1 to 10. Why not?
The volume notification will adapt to connected audio devices. This includes Bluetooth-based headsets and speakers, line-in-connected headsets and speakers, and other audio devices, each of which can have its own volume needs. Microsoft’s MD-12 Bluetooth speaker, for example, supports only one volume level, but when a call comes in, the handset will use the configured ring tone and vibration setting, while the speaker will trill a unique ring tone of its own (and mute whatever other audio was playing).
The volume notification works from anywhere. You can access the volume notification from any phone experience—the lock screen, the Start screen, apps and games, whatever—as long as the screen is on. (And if the screen is off and audio is playing, you can still adjust the volume of that audio up or down by pressing the hardware volume keys.)