Yesterday on the Windows Phone Blog Microsoft announced details on the new update for Windows Phone 8 Update 3 (aka General Distribution Release or GDR3), now available in preview to developers. The new features include support for quad-core processors, larger screens, and customizable ringtones among a slew of others. Butthe feature I’m enjoying the most however is the improved Bluetooth in-car experience, a feature my current car helped to develop.
My GDR3 story begins when my car, a 2010 BMW exhibited some quirks with Windows Phone 8’s unique hands-free features. Windows Phone 8 has the ability to do voice search and even read and reply to text messages via voice by convincing your car’s Bluetooth system you’re in a call. It’s actually a very cool feature but the problem I had was that it didn’t always work in my car, but was flawless in others. I reported it to a friend in Windows Phone and within hours I had a tester in the garage at my office. We were unable to reproduce the drop after many attempts. Then it happened. The test lead took video of the experience and brought it back to the team. A day later, with my permission my car was whisked away by the Bluetooth devteam to test a potential fix. The WP team didn’t stop at just one adhoc test. On two future occasions they borrowed my car and used as a test unit.
If you’re a member of the Windows Phone 8 Developer Program, you can download GDR3 preview and take advantage of the improved Bluetooth features. Of note is a new setting, “Connect in a different way to use Speech with Bluetooth in my Car”. While I can’t be certain, I’m pretty sure my car was a contributor to this feature. You can check out a video walk-through of the new features for GDR3 on WPCentral or via YouTube link below.