Also announced Monday was the Windows Phone Developer Preview, which allows developers to get pre-release builds of Windows Phone updates on their dev phones before their general availability.
Some of the new features included in Windows Phone Update 3 include a bigger Start screen for more Live Tiles, a new, customizable Driving Mode and better accessibility options.
Driving Mode helps users get from point A to point B with fewer distractions. Working with a connected Bluetooth device, Driving Mode is designed to limit notifications on the lock screen - including texts, calls, and quick status alerts.
Users can even configure Driving Mode to send automatic replies to people who call or text when they're behind the wheel, to let them know they'll get back to them.
Another highlight of the new update is Mobile Accessibility for Windows Phone 8, which is a suite of apps designed to make Windows Phone easier to see, hear, and use. The apps, which include a screen reader, make it easier for blind and visually impaired users to manage calls and contacts, send texts and emails, browse the web, make Skype and Lync calls, and hear notifications like alarms, calendar events, and low-battery warnings.
In Update 3, Microsoft also e made it easier to use a phone as a data-savvy hotspot for Windows 8.1 devices. All is needed is to pair a phone and Windows 8.1 PC or tablet over Bluetooth and tap a network name.
Most importantly, the new update paves the way for future Windows Phone devices with 5- and 6-inch touch screens. 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.
Also, Windows Phone 8 Update 3 will provide support for Qualcomm?s 8974 quad-core processor.
Windows Phone 8 Update 3 also packs the following features:
- Custom ringtones can be used for more things?including instant messages, emails, voicemails, and reminders. Users can also assign custom ringtones to contacts for text messages.
- A new rotation lock option will keep the screen fixed in place when, for example, the screen was spinning when users are trying to read emails in bed. - New storage settings make it easier to free up space on the phone and manage temporary files.
- The App switcher can be used to close apps.
- Users can connect to Wi-Fi during phone set up.
- Improvements to connection quality for Bluetooth accessories.
Developers will have to update their phones to get the pre-release build.