There's been a fairly steady stream of Windows Phone 8.1 leaks over the past couple of months that've given us an idea of all of the new goodies that Microsoft is packing into the platform's next major update, including an "Action Center" notification panel and the ability to set a default messaging app. Today the leaks continue with some details on WP8.1's Start screen customizations and the new version of Internet Explorer.
According to a leak from LiveSino, Microsoft is planning to allow Windows Phone 8.1 users to set a custom background image that'll be shown behind the Live Tiles on their device's Start screen. The site has shared an image from the WP8.1 SDK that shows an option to "Change your phone's background" as well as an one for a "Start background."
Also included in this leak is an option to "Show more tiles," which The Verge says will enable users to use a three-column Live Tile layout on their Start screen. That option is currently available to larger-screened phones like the Lumia 1520, but it's said that the feature will be extended to devices like the Lumia 920 and 1020 in Windows Phone 8.1. Another Live Tile-related feature that Microsoft is said to be testing is the ability to skin Live Tiles with an image or even make them transparent.
Internet Explorer 11 is also expected to receive some major new features with the jump to Windows Phone 8.1. Perhaps the most notable addition is tab syncing, which will let Windows 8.1 users open up their recently-viewed tabs on their Windows Phone 8.1 hardware. Some of the other add-ons said to be coming to IE 11 include Reading View, private browsing, a password manager and the ability to upload and download content.
With all of the features included in today's leak as well as the Action Center and Cortana personal assistant, Windows Phone 8.1 is shaping up to be the biggest update to Microsoft's mobile platform to date. While additions like the oft-requested Action Center are sure to garner a lot of attention, the customization features outlined in today's leak will be big for Windows Phone as well. Users can currently resize their Live Tiles and select an accent color to change their hue, but having the options to set a Start screen background image and skin the Live Tiles will raise Windows Phone's customization level significantly, and I'm betting that many users will appreciate being able to make their phone even more personal.
Of all the Windows Phone 8.1 features that've leaked so far, which one are you most excited for?
UPDATE: Developer Jeremy Sinclair has posted a large list of new features included with the Windows Phone 8.1 SDK to his blog. There are quite a few notable additions, including an option to update apps automatically, double-tap to unlock, double-tap to power off, ability to change the default SMS app and Quiet Hours, which is a sort of "Do Not Disturb" mode that will prevent notifications from appearing for a set period of time. The full list of features shared by Sinclair is as follows: