Microsoft has updated its Windows Phone mobile operating system (OS) to support 1080p full HD screens, hinting at future plans to release smartphones and phablets in sizes similar to the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and HTC One Max.
Microsoft corporate vice president of Windows Phone, Darren Laybourn announced the Windows Phone 8 Update 3 in a post on the company's developer blog. Laybourn highlighted the new screen support as a key achievement that will drive innovation in the Windows Phone ecosystem.
"The new update paves the way for future Windows Phone devices with 5in and 6in touchscreens. The larger, 1080p HD displays on these devices will make Windows Phone even more personal – for example by sporting jumbo-sized Start screens with room for six Live Tiles across instead of four," he wrote.
"A bigger Start screen means the ability to pin even more of the people, info, and apps that matter to you. Built-in apps and Hubs like email, Photos, People, and Music and Videos will also be carefully scaled to take full advantage of the additional real estate on 6in screens."
The Windows Phone 3 update will also add a new, customisable Driving Mode, several new Mobile Accessibility applications and support for more powerful hardware, such as the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor.
The Driving Mode is designed to stop the smartphone distracting its owner while driving. It does this by limiting the number of texts, calls, and quick status alerts that appear on the lock screen when it is turned on.
The Mobile Accessibility apps are designed to make it easier for Windows Phone users to "see, hear and use their smartphone." Laybourn confirmed that a new screen-reader app designed to help visually impaired people use their phone will be part of the update.
Laybourn said he expects the update to help growth to continue in the Windows Phone ecosystem.
"It's been a busy but exciting year for my team – and Windows Phone overall. If you follow the news, you might have seen that our market share in Europe has grown to nearly 10 percent. We're seeing things really start to accelerate," he said.
"We believe this is because we continue to advance the platform at a rapid pace. Our hardware partners, meanwhile, have been taking advantage of this innovation and releasing amazing new Windows Phone devices throughout the year."
Laybourn announced a new Developer Preview Program alongside the Windows 3 update. The program will grant app developers early access to the updated code.
The Windows Phone 3 unveiling comes one week before Nokia World in Abu Dhabi. This is the first major press event since Microsoft confirmed plans to purchase the Finnish phone maker, and Nokia is expected to unveil a new large-screen Lumia smartphone at the event. No doubt this will come running the Windows Phone 3 update.
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