Today Microsoft announced the next set of features that it will introduce to the Windows Phone platform. The update will ship on the Lumia 925, announced today, and will “start rolling out” to other Windows Phone 8 handsets this summer.
Its feature set, though Microsoft calls it “small,” has a number of key upgrades that should keep fans of the platform content. Up first: FM radio. Microsoft claims that it heard customer complaint, and thus has brought back the feature. A bit later than some might have liked, but it’s welcome all the same.
Also in the update will be the expansion of Data Sense to more carriers, and updates to Xbox Music to make music selection simpler, along with improved metadata accuracy.
Finally, and this is the feature that matters, the small update will contain support for Google’s sync protocols CalDAV and CarddDAV. This means that if you use a Windows Phone handset, you can keep using your full suite of Google mail, calendar, and contact services.
That’s big news for Windows Phone users, as Google had previously threatened to cut Windows Phone off as it dropped support for Exchange Active Sync, before Microsoft had built CalDAV and CarddDAV support for the platform. After a high-noon situation, Google relented, extending support a bit, granting Microsoft time to code.
To put the above update in context, we turn to Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet. She calls the update GRD2, which is Microsoft-speak for the second ‘General Distribution Release.’ The first came last year, bringing messaging improvements.
However, what is interesting is that Microsoft’s ‘Blue’ update, according to Foley, isn’t even next in the docket:
The GDR2 update — which Microsoft officials never actually call GDR2 in today’s blog post — is coming “this summer.” GDR3 sounds like it may be timed to arrive this fall. And Windows Phone Blue is sounding from tipsters more and more like a 2014 release.
This is both good, and perhaps less good. Great that Microsoft has more updates in the pipelines. Less good as I frankly can’t wait to get my hands on Blue.
For now, Windows Phone 8 continues to better itself with improved code, and new handsets. Nokia’s second quarter Lumia sales will be the report card, of course.