Report: Microsoft testing Windows Phone 8 rotation lock, UI changes

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Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) engineers are currently trialing a new Windows Phone 8 update scheduled for release by the end of this year, sources told The Verge.

The General Distribution 3 upgrade--initially designed for new Windows Phone 8 hardware releases--is reportedly highlighted by a new rotation lock feature, or "autorotate screen," that disables automatic rotation functionality. Insiders said Microsoft is adding the feature in advance of 5-inch and 6-inch Windows Phone units slated to reach retail in the near future.

Microsoft also will tweak the Windows Phone 8 user interface, revamping status icons and updating the start screen's dynamic Live Tiles for 1080p handsets. Sources added that Microsoft plans to sync text messages from Windows Phone products to PCs and the Web, letting viewers access SMS interactions from any platform, although the feature is still under development and may not make the final cut prior to GDR3's release.

Microsoft is expected to finalize GDR3 in mid-September, in time for partner Nokia (NYSE:NOK) to incorporate the changes into forthcoming Windows Phone 8 devices. The update is expected to roll out to legacy devices by the end of 2013. Microsoft did not respond to requests for comment.

Microsoft released Windows Phone 8 General Distribution Release 2 in July. The minor update is highlighted by the restoration of FM radio support--a longtime Windows Phone OS feature dropped with the late 2012 launch of WP8--as well as Xbox Music improvements to provide more accurate metadata, a Data Sense app tracking device usage and stability improvements to services like Internet Explorer and Skype.

Insiders say Microsoft is also at work on a major Windows Phone 8 overhaul bringing a notification center, enhanced multitasking and improvements to built-in applications. The so-called Windows Phone Blue update is expected in early 2014.

For more:
- read this Verge article

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