The slow, steady improvements to the Windows Phone platform continue. Microsoft is reportedly testing a new update for Windows Phone 8 set to come out before the end of the year. The update is separate from both the rumored " Windows Phone 8.1 Blue" update as well as the Windows Phone refresh dubbed GDR2 that is rolling out now.
When it arrives, GDR3 will feature some tweaks to the Live Tiles user interface, a screen rotation lock, and a driving mode option to make it easier to operate your phone while driving, anonymous sources told The Verge and WMPowerUser. Microsoft is also considering implementing a way to forward Windows Phone text messages to websites and Windows PCs, the Verge reports. (*Cough* iMessages *Cough*)
Chatter about GDR3 has been going on for some time. In April, Windows watcher Mary Jo Foley reported that GDR3 would add support for five- to six-inch devices with 1080p display capabilities. At the time, GDR3 was also said to include changes to the start screen (Live Tiles) and core Windows Phone 8 apps. It's also expected to include a notification center, a clamored-for feature that Windows Phone desperately needs.
More recently, Microsoft's Visual Studio 2013 added a 1080p emulator for Windows Phone, adding to the reports about upcoming 1080p support.
On Friday, The Verge added further credence to Foley's April report, saying that Microsoft is hoping to have GDR3 finished by September, in time to ship on a new large--screen (perhaps a five- to six-inch) device from Nokia. It's not clear when GDR3 would roll out to handsets already in the wild, but the consensus is that GDR3 will be the last Windows Phone update before Windows Phone Blue arrives.
Similar to its PC-based cousin, Windows Phone Blue will be a major overhaul to Windows Phone 8 and is expected to arrive around early 2014.
While Windows Phone fans wait for GDR3 and Windows Blue, GDR2 is rolling out now. GDR2 includes support for the CalDAV and CardDAV protocols, which will allow new Windows Phone users to sync their contacts and calendar data from Google.
The search giant is expected to drop support for Microsoft's Exchange ActiveSync on December 31, at which point only phones that support CalDAV and CardDAV will be able to create new sync connections to their Google Calendar and Contacts data. The CalDAV/CardDAV switch affects only free Google Account users. Paid accounts for large businesses and institutions will continue to receive EAS support, and any free account users that connected to Google via EAS prior to the shutdown will also be supported.
When Microsoft announced Windows Phone 8 it promised an eighteen month support lifecycle for all versions of its software. In July, Microsoft extended lifecycle support to 36 months, meaning Windows Phone 8 will be seeing regular updates until 2016.