The third update for Windows Phone 8 is out and it supports the larger screen sizes that are becoming more popular — the so-called “phablet” trend (“phone” plus “tablet”).
Microsoft sees a bright future in these phablets with screen sizes ranging from 5 to 7 inches, said Greg Sullivan, senior marketing manager for Windows Phone.
Samsung popularized the phablet trend with the release of its Galaxy Note in 2011. Nokia is expected to announce that it is releasing a Windows Phone phablet later this month.
The latest Windows Phone update “paves the way for future Windows Phone devices with 5- and 6-inch touch screens,” with the larger display enabling a user to include more tiles on the Start screen, according to Microsoft.
The update (which Microsoft is not calling “Windows Phone 8.1″) also includes “Driving Mode,” a new feature that limits distractions from notifications on the lock screen while the user is driving, and allows the user to send automatic replies to calls and texts, saying he/she is driving.
Microsoft outlines other features in the update in a blog post here.
Windows Phone has overtaken BlackBerry as the world’s No. 3 smartphone operating system, according to research firms Gartner and IDC. And in some markets, including the Latin America region and India, it’s the No. 2 smartphone O.S. But its worldwide market share, at around 3 to 4 percent both worldwide and in the U.S., still lags far behind Android’s and Apple’s iOS.