Microsoft's phone update to feature driving mode

Oct 14, 2013 by Anick Jesdanun
In this Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, file photo, a new Microsoft Corp. logo, left, is seen on an exterior wall of a new Microsoft store inside the Prudential Center mall, in Boston. Microsoft is updating its Windows software for cellphones to accommodate larger devices and make it easier for motorists to reduce distractions while driving. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

Microsoft is updating its Windows software for cellphones to accommodate larger devices and make it easier for motorists to reduce distractions while driving.

It's the third update to Windows Phone 8 software since the system's release a year ago. Devices with this update will start appearing in the coming weeks, and older phones will be eligible for a free upgrade, too.

Something that may appeal to motorists: a new Driving Mode will automatically silence incoming calls and texts so that you can focus on the road. You also can configure the feature to automatically send out a reply to say that you're driving.

It can be activated automatically when the phone is linked wirelessly with a Bluetooth device in the car, such as a headset. Apple has a Do Not Disturb feature for iPhones, but that needs to be turned on manually.

What the Driving Mode won't do, however, is block outgoing calls or texts. And there will be ways to override it. The feature won't stop a teenager from texting while driving, but it will help reduce distractions for those who want that, says Greg Sullivan, director for Microsoft's Windows Phone business.

The new update also will allow for better resolution to accommodate larger phones. Currently, the system supports a maximum resolution of 1280 pixels by 768 pixels, which is adequate for phones with screens no larger than 5 inches on the diagonal. But video and image quality degrades when stretched out on larger phones, such as a 6.3-inch (16-centimeter) Android phone from Samsung Electronics Co.

The layout for larger phones also will change. Phones may now sport a third column of tiles, for instance. Contact lists and other features will be able to fit in more information. That's a contrast to Android, where text and images simply get bigger with larger screens, without actually fitting in more content.

Microsoft's Windows Phone software holds a distant third place behind Apple's iOS and Google's Android, with a worldwide market share of 3.7 percent in the second quarter, according to research firm IDC. But shipments of Windows Phone devices grew 78 percent to 8.7 million in the April-to-June period, compared with the same time a year ago. The tile-based layout in Windows Phone is the inspiration for the Windows 8 software powering tablets and personal computers.

There are a few ways Microsoft Corp. will catch up to the iPhone and Android phones with the new update.

For the first time, Windows phones will have a rotation lock function, so that the screen won't switch back and forth between horizontal and vertical mode while you're curled up in bed. There also will be a central way to close open apps. Before, you had to go into each open app and press and hold the back button.

And Microsoft is launching a program to give app developers early access to the new software. Apple has had a similar program for the iOS software behind iPhones and iPads, while Google often has worked with selected developers on unreleased features.

Explore further: Microsoft Office comes to Android, but not tablets

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Windows phones to miss out on new software

Jun 21, 2012

(AP) — As it struggles to gain a foothold against the iPhone and Android phones, Microsoft Corp. is planning to issue a dramatic update to its phone software, one that won't be available to current Windows Phones.

Android trumps Apple in smartphone sales

May 16, 2013

Google's Android mobile system boosted its lead in the global smartphone market over Apple in early 2013, while Microsoft's Windows edged into third place, a survey showed Thursday.

Android smartphones rise as iPhone slips, IDC finds

Aug 07, 2013

Smartphones powered by Google's Android software increased their global market share as iPhones lost ground in the absence of new models being unleashed by Apple, the International Data Corporation reported ...

Microsoft: Windows Phone to catch up in apps

Oct 30, 2012

(AP)—Microsoft launched a new version of its Windows Phone software with broad support from smartphone makers, cellphone carriers and app developers as the software company tries to position new Windows gadgets as strong ...

Recommended for you

Growing app industry has developers racing to keep up

11 hours ago

Smartphone application developers say they are challenged by the glut of apps as well as the need to update their software to keep up with evolving phone technology, making creative pricing strategies essential to finding ...

Android gains in US, basic phones almost extinct

Apr 18, 2014

The Google Android platform grabbed the majority of mobile phones in the US market in early 2014, as consumers all but abandoned non-smartphone handsets, a survey showed Friday.

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

Apr 17, 2014

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...

Microsoft CEO is driving data-culture mindset

Apr 16, 2014

(Phys.org) —Microsoft's future strategy: is all about leveraging data, from different sources, coming together using one cohesive Microsoft architecture. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on Tuesday, both in ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Finnish inventor rethinks design of the axe

(Phys.org) —Finnish inventor Heikki Kärnä is the man behind the Vipukirves Leveraxe, which is a precision tool for splitting firewood. He designed the tool to make the job easier and more efficient, with ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.

Poll: Big Bang a big question for most Americans

Few Americans question that smoking causes cancer. But they have more skepticism than confidence in global warming, the age of the Earth and evolution and have the most trouble believing a Big Bang created the universe 13.8 ...