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April 4, 2014

Build 2014 recap: what you might have missed

Everything and anything about Build 2014 you could possibly wish for in one handy post.

If you were unfortunate enough not be at the Microsoft Build Developers Conference 2014, then you would have certainly missed out on this year’s free goody bag; an Xbox One and a $500 Microsoft Store gift card.

Worse still is the possibility that you might not have seen Conversations over the last week to witness the launch of a great new range of Nokia devices and accessories.

Well, never fear, your favourite online editors are here to recapitulate on all that we’ve shared.

The foundation

Day one of Build 2014 started with a slew of big-ticket presenters unveiling brand new hardware and services to a jam-packed crowd.

First up was Windows Phone 8.1 that saw some fantastic new features added to the mobile operating system. These included the future-like and Bing-powered Cortana personal digital assistant, which learns your behaviour and filters out the rubbish, leaving you with only the stuff that really matters.

Cortana will launch first in the USA in beta, with final versions expected to be out in the US, UK and China in the second half of this year. In 2015 it will roll out to even more countries.

Action Center gives you super quick access (even while the phone is locked) to integral features, such as WiFi, Bluetooth and Airplane mode, while missed calls, SMS messages and social updates will appear in an up-to-the-minute feed.

Word Flow keyboard offers a brand-new and intuitive way of typing, whereby you glide your finger over your virtual keyboard to spell words. Your Nokia Lumia learns as you go, predicting what you’re going to type. Think of T9 on steroids.

Among the myriad of other features announced (get a good look here), we also liked the improved Start Screen personalization, an extra column of Live Tiles, customisable background images, Lock Screen themes, and a brand-new calendar.

Living features

Not only will these great features be rolled out to all Lumia smartphones running Windows Phone 8 for free – including our best-selling Nokia Lumia 520 – but you’ll also get a throng of new Nokia-specific updates.

These include the new Camera Roll, which offers faster access to your photos, image-editing tools and sharing options, but also allows Cinemagraphs, Refocus and Smart Shots to come alive thanks to our new Living Images feature.

Nokia Storyteller has a new video slideshow feature and has upped its social game to share more fluidly on Facebook and Twitter.

The updated Creative Studio has five new filters and can also be accessed right from the Camera Roll.

So far, so good. Now what about the new hardware?


Taking to the stage first was the flagship Nokia Lumia 930. A stunning aluminium-clad device with metallic accents and a beautifully curved polycarbonate back. Discover what went into making it, from Nokia’s own design supremo, Jonne Harju, here.

Its fantastic PureView 20MP camera with optical image stabilization (OIS) and ZEISS optics was one trick up its sleeve. Another is the four-way microphone array that allows directional recording, capturing the audio from what you’re looking at rather than background noise. Clever, huh? Watch another exclusive hands-on video, here.

Next up was a trio of Nokia phones offering uncompromised performance; the single and (first ever) dual-sim Nokia Lumia 630, and the fast and powerful 4G Nokia Lumia 635.

All come with a vivacious design with changeable covers, quad-core processors, a 4.5-inch ClearBlack screen and the brand-new ‘SensorCore’ – a low-power motion sensing technology that teams up with Bing Health and Fitness to help people track their lives.

Read about Nokia Lumia 635 and 630 in greater detail here, watch an exclusive hands-on video here and then learn how these new smartphones were made from the ground up, from the designers themselves, here.

Finally, and by no means least, was the arrival of the gorgeously colourful and powerful Nokia Bluetooth Minispeaker. About the size of an apple, this bantam boom-box uses a clever actuator to vibrate against the surface (especially hard ones) its on to project deeper bass frequencies. With up to 15-hours playback and wireless connectivity, it’ll clearly be adorning many a suitcase this summer.

Finishing touches


At the same time as Build 2014, Nokia’s DVLUP program had a big week of its own. For starters, the rewards program for mobile app developers is now available in 50 countries around the world – Colombia is the latest addition. And, to extend the opportunities for developers who are members of the program, qualified developers will be awarded one of three new “Status” levels – think frequent-flyer program for app developers – to reward them further for their hard work and successes.

The Nokia Developer team announced the next update to the Imaging SDK (now v1.2 and beta) that includes more than 50 filters and custom effects that developers can include in their photo apps for Windows Phone, and it now supports the creation of animated .GIF images, too.

They also announced the availability of the Nokia SensorCore SDK for use in health and fitness apps that includes options for a step counter, activity monitor, place monitor and route tracker. This latter SDK is in private beta right now (developers interested in getting involved should contact Nokia Developer).

So, as Build 2014 comes to an end and a new chapter (almost) begins. We’d love to know your highlights of the past week. We’ve enjoyed every minute with you.