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Microsoft GDR2 + Nokia Lumia Amber For Windows Phone 8: What’s New?

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Microsoft GDR2 + Nokia Lumia Amber For Windows Phone 8: What’s New?

If you are an owner of a Windows Phone 8 device in Nigeria, chances are you should have gotten notifications for the GDR2 and Amber updates for some Nokia devices in the Lumia range. The GDR2 brings some crucial features and performance boosts to WP8, while the Amber update brings a few Nokia-specific tweaks to your device. Both updates have been available in some countries since August but Nokia promised a steady roll out for the rest of the world before September ends. The following is a detailed look at what the updates bring:

Before Update

Microsoft GDR2 Features

FM Radio: This previously unavailable feature is now enabled on WP8, but ONLY in devices which have a connection between the audio jack and the FM Radio chipset so that the earphones can act as an antenna. The Lumia 620, 810 and 928 lack this. The FM radio is accessible via the Music+Videos hub.

Data Sense:  Is an intuitive app that lets you track and set limits for your data usage. While it is on all updated devices, the feature is dependent on your carrier and country.

Xbox Music gets a small boost in GDR2 that makes it easier to select, pin and download music. It also improves song/album info display. Adding songs to Kid’s Corner is now possible by a long press on the album and the app start up time and streaming abilities have been improved as well.

The “Other Storage” bug where a large part of your phone’s storage was eaten up by temporary undeleted files has been fixed somewhat. It is still present to a small degree but manufacturers like Nokia can now implement storage check apps to clean it up better.

General Improvements: Loads of other improvements have been made to different parts of the OS including improvements to VoIP and Internet Explorer, support for CardDAV and CalDAV protocols for syncing with Google services, map data can now be incrementally updated and you can now toggle which photo apps get launched by the camera button. Other improvements include support for more .wav codecs and Bluetooth SMART accessories (also known as Bluetooth Low Energy) for select Lumia devices, API fixes, OneNote’s “new note” Live Tile option and higher resolutions for profile photos on the Me Live Tile.

 

Nokia Amber Features

Along with the GDR2, Nokia also bundles some manufacturer-specific features with its Amber update. The most notable ones are centred around the display. They include Nokia Glance–which displays the clock (and notifications in a future update) on a lock screen, options for the Lumia colour profile and the ability to wake up a locked screen by double tapping it.

Also bundled with the update are newer image processing algorithms to improve photo processing even in low-light conditions as well as the inclusion of the Smart Camera and Pro Camera apps to some lumias (depending on model and their respective camera modules). Video tools like the Nokia Video Trimmer and Nokia Video Upload, which needed Amber as a prerequisite can now be installed after this update.

Another new, handy feature is flip to silence, which like the name implies mutes the ring of an incoming calls when you flip the handset withoout hanging the call. Speaking of ringtones, the Nokia Design Team has released several new ones that are included with the Amber update and can be downloaded from their Soundcloud page. Lastly, with the Amber update, Lumias gain the ability to block calls and SMSes from blacklisted numbers. This call and sms filter module is activated when you download the latest version of the extras+info app.

After Update:

The GDR2 + Amber updates definitely breathe new life into the Lumia devices making them much more enjoyable to use. It would be interesting to see what the GDR3 + Blue updates bring before the end of this year, and also what comes with the rumoured WP 8.1 refresh slated for next year.

Below is a table listing the GDR2 + Amber features specific to each Lumia model and you can find Nokia’s update availability page for Africa based on country, carrier and phone model at this link here. For countries and phones not supported yet, Nokia has promised a September deadline so they still have roughly 4 days to wrap things up.  1ambergrid

Credits: Additional info and Lumia Devices Compatibility table courtesy of allaboutwindowsphone.com

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