A new Windows Phone 8 update from Microsoft is rolling out now, bringing a handful of tweaks that range from extremely minor to potentially crucial.
The update, billed either 8.0.10327.77 or 8.0.10328.78 depending on the phone, is not to be confused with Windows Phone Blue, a larger feature pack that may not arrive until next year. New phones will come pre-loaded with this week's update, but now it's aimed at all Windows Phone 8 handsets.
For users who rely on Google for contacts and calendars, the most important change is CalDAV and CardDAV support . Until now, Windows Phone had used Exchange ActiveSync to connect to Google's servers, but after this month Google will no longer support Exchange ActiveSync for new connections.
Existing users won't have to make any changes, but CalDAV and CardDAV will allow new Windows Phone users to sync with Google contacts and calendars after July 31. It's an under-the-hood change, but an important one.
And there's more
The other big improvement is an expanded version of Data Sense, which allows users to track their mobile data usage and set limits on how much data they use in a month. In the United States, Data Sense was previously exclusive to Verizon Wireless. It will presumably be available on more carriers now, but Microsoft still notes that not all carriers will support the feature.
Other tweaks include FM radio on supported phones, updates to the Xbox Music interface, stability and performance improvements for Skype and other VoIP apps, better HTML5 compatibility in Internet Explorer, the ability to set a default Lens in the Camera app, and "many other improvements."
This certainly isn't a major update on par with Windows Phone 8, which launched last fall. According to bothThe Verge and ZDNet the next big update—including features such as a notification center and improved multitasking—isn't likely to happen until early 2014.
Nokia Lumia 1020
This fall, Microsoft reportedly will roll out another smaller update that will finally allow 1080p display support , paving the way for Windows Phones with screens that are five inches or larger.
While the no big update this year will be a disappointment, at least Microsoft is sending users some incremental improvements in the meantime. And with no major update imminent, phone makers are starting to put out a steady drip of new handsets, like the Nokia Lumia 1020 and HTC Windows Phone 8Xt, rather than hanging back for the next big software release.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.