Windows 10 will soon be available to users of Windows Phone devices as well as Microsoft PCs and tablets. With the latest preview build of its upcoming Windows 10 operating system, Microsoft revealed some of the new features that Windows 10 will bring to your phone.
In a post on the Windows Blog, Microsoft’s Gabe Aul announced the latest preview build of Windows 10, Build 10136. If you’re already participating in the Windows Insider program for mobile, the new build will arrive as an operating system update. The build is being offered to users who are opted in to the Windows Insider “Fast ring” and have phones running Windows Phone 8.1. That means that if you’re running the previous build offered to the Fast ring, you’ll need to go back to Windows Phone 8.1 via the Windows Phone Recovery tool.
In addition to fixing some of the issues that users ran into with the previous preview build, Build 10136 provides a first look at some of the new features that Windows phone users will get with Windows 10. As with any pre-release software, there are known issues with the build, and Microsoft makes it clear that you’re likely to run into other issues if you choose to test out the software. If you don’t mind contending with these issues in order to try out the new software first — and to offer Microsoft the feedback it needs to perfect the software — then you can sign up for the Windows Insider program here.
But even if Microsoft’s pre-release software isn’t something you want to deal with running on your smartphone, you can still find out what features your Windows Phone is getting next. Read on for four new features that Windows 10 will bring to your phone.
1. New Cortana features
Aul reports that the experience with Cortana “has gone through a rich set of improvements and is now very close to our final design.” Microsoft has made adjustments to the cards in Cortana’s homepage and in the hamburger menu. And taking into account the feedback that Windows Insiders have offered, it’s added dark theme colors to Cortana’s user interface, which makes it more cohesive with the rest of the operating system. Cortana also adds to the ability to track flights and packages, so that when you get an email with flight or package information from supported providers, they’ll show up in Cortana and the assistant can alert you about them. Microsoft has also enabled alerts for going to work, going home, and going to the airport. You can also ask Cortana questions about the weather, currency information, stock quotes, and more, and you’ll get the answers directly, which makes it easier to check multiple locations or stock tickers.
2. One-handed mode
For owners of devices with screens that are 5 inches or larger, Windows 10 will make it easier to use the smartphone with one hand. To activate the operating system’s one-handed mode, users just press and hold the Start button. In response, the contents of the screen will slide down so that the items at the top of the screen are easier to reach. To slide the screen back up, users just need to tap the black space at the top of the screen, or press and hold the Start button again. The one-handed mode will also naturally time out after several seconds, and will then return to the regular view. Napier Lopez reports for The Next Web that a similar feature on Android is accessible only on specific devices through manufacturer customizations. Because Microsoft doesn’t allow third parties to have the same kind of control over the Windows Phone operating system that Google allows with Android, it’s good to see Microsoft adding the feature to its operating system by default.
3. Camera and Photos improvements
Windows 10 will bring some useful improvements to the Photos app, where you’ll be able to tap on a month to get a list of months, from which you can “jump” to photos you may have taken a while ago. The app also enables you to double-tap to zoom on a photo. The performance and reliability of the app are also improved. Aul notes that users running Build 10136 on a Lumia 640, 640XL, 930, Icon, or 1520 can try out the Lumia Camera Beta, which is the same app as the new Windows 10 Camera app, but with additional features that light up based on the Lumia hardware.
4. User interface changes
Aul writes that the latest preview build of Windows 10 brings “far too many subtle changes in the UX to cover.” Some of these changes are obvious, such as how the PIN pad is now transparent and slides up over the Lock screen image instead of displacing it. Other adjustments include changes to fonts, icons, and layout, and Aul reports that “the UX will feel more complete than what you used in 10080.” Further refinements to the Windows 10 user interface will be integrated into the next preview build.
Aul notes that as July 29, the date that Windows 10 will become available for PCs and tablets, gets closer, Microsoft is getting more questions on the final release date for Windows 10 Mobile. He explains, “While we’re making good progress, we need more time to deliver the optimal experience for mobile devices and you can expect Windows 10 Mobile to release broadly later this year.”