Home Editor's Picks Windows 10 Mobile: Massive Changelog, Features, Hands-on demo

Windows 10 Mobile: Massive Changelog, Features, Hands-on demo


In this article we are covering all the changes  and new features that Windows 10 Mobile brings as compared to Windows Phone 8.1 GDR1 and GDR2. We will also keep updating about Windows 10 Mobile release date on this page. Microsoft has released Windows 10 Mobile Build 10586.164 to supported or eligible Windows Phone 8.1 devices. So, while Windows Insiders are already enjoying Windows 10 Mobile as the Insider Preview it will be a new experience for millions of Windows Phone 8.1 device owners out there.

We have listed all the UI changes, awesome new features like Actionable Notifications, Reachability or One-handed mode, More customization options and all improvements like Background downloads, Developer options, Download limit removal and more. It is the most complete Windows 10 Mobile new features and changes list available anywhere. In the end of the article you can watch our hands-on videos and impressions of the Windows 10 Mobile Build 10586.164 and other Builds. Read our review of Build 10586.164 by clicking here.

Windows 10 Mobile Massive Changelog & New Features


Tiles, Start Screen & Action Center (UI) Changes:

  • Four column of mid-size tiles on start screen for Phablets and also on smaller devices, if you change the size of tiles by using slider in Display settings
  • Five Column of action buttons in action center for Phablets and also on smaller devices, if you change the size of tiles by using slider in Display settings

  • Many changes in Start Personalization settings. You now have option to choose the background image from “My Picture / Sample Pictures”. Also the Background style settings viz “Tile style / Full Screen picture” is a separate option now.
  • Full Wallpaper support is finally here, along with option of Translucent tiles to fully transparent tiles with help of a transparency slider. The transparency slider works as per the name now. So by increasing the slider percentage, start becomes more transparent
  • Cellular, Torchlight and Note are some of the new toggles
  • Search bar in app list is dark on top and app filter view has a new look
  • Most of the apps like Camera, Store, Music, Video have new Icons

  • Even the Multitasking UI has wallpaper support and Landscape mode, though you need to use an app like Camera to enter Landscape Multitasking mode.
  • New UI animations for opening, navigating, switching apps and other transactions.
  • That expandable action center is great and also the fact that you can access so many quick-access buttons by expanding it. But if you long press on any of these quick-access button it will take you to the settings of that button. For example long pressing on “Brightness” quick action button to go to “Brightness” settings.
  • Expanding the notifications in Action Center: It is a welcome change and now you can expand those notifications that don’t show up in full and you can read them completely in the Action Center and if they are actionable like messages, you can reply to them from Action Center itself.

  • Clearing individual notifications: No more clearing all notifications of a group in one go even if you wanted to clear only few of them. You can clear notifications individually even if they are from a single account like your mail or message.
  • Lock Screen has a new opening animation that only has date moving up while opening.
  • The double tap to lock screens settings now has moved to “Lock Screen” settings.

Actionable notifications:

  • In case of upcoming text messages you can expand the message pop up by pulling it down and then can reply to the message in-line while not opening it and even after expanding in the Action Center. And while we tried to check whether it works for Skype or incoming Mails, it doesn’t seem to be the case. You see the banners on top but can’t reply in-line. Though, good news is that you can reply in-line to messages even from Lock screen by expanding the notification. You can also take action on Alarm notifications and Facebook Beta supports Actionable notifications too.

Reachability (One-Handed) Mode:

  • One-handed mode on all phones which can be enabled by pressing and holding the Start button. When you do this, your screen will slide down so you can reach items at the top of your screen. Reachability mode can be exited with just one tap now. You can see instruction written that shows how to exit it with just one tap.

Notifications Settings:

  • Private notifications are here. So, you can go to settings–>Notifications & Actions and set “notifications private on the lock screen” for the app you desire. Once you have toggle on this option all the notifications from the app in question will appear as private notifications on the lock screen and in action center.
  • Notifications UI has changed and it is now all toggles to control what notifications you want. Settings–>System–>Notifications & Actions.
  • Show Alarms, reminders and incoming VOIP calls on the lock screen possible in notifications settings now


  • New Settings app is all-organized and has all the settings that used to appear as  a big unintuitive list on Windows Phone 8.1, under broad categories. Easy to find and understand where to find what.
  • You can search for a setting also in the search bar on top.
  • On Phablets, settings have an enhanced Landscape mode that resembles to Windows 10 Settings UI.

Speech to Text, New Keyboard:

  • The keyboard has a pointing stick that lets you move the cursor up & down and also right & left when you type anything
  • You can use the impressive voice to text typing which is precise, fast and even puts punctuation mark itself as you speak. The best that you may have seen yet
  • On Phablets you can hold and move keyboard up or down and also change size of keyboard by going to Keyboard settings. Check the video below.

Universal Photos & Alarms:

  • Universal Photos app has all the camera roll and OneDrive images shown in the same view. The Photos app has been updated to include features you have been asking for to help you do more with your photos.
  • It has three views: Collection, Folder and Album views that makes it easy for you to see your OneDrive and PC folders in the Photos app. On your phone, you can also see folders on your SD card.

  • With the most recent update to the Photos app, you can now mark local photos on your phone as favorites and have them shuffle on the Live Tile. Additional context menus (press and hold on a photo).
  • Full-Screen view of images in Photos app has become the default view with a recent update.
  • Living Images play & Rich Capture editing experience baled in native Photos app. You can even capture and edit Living images with Rich capture. Read more.
  • Native GIF support is here.
  • Alarms app is redesigned and have 4 tabs with Alarms, Timer, Stopwatch and World Clock.

Storage Settings:

  • UX improvements to storage settings on your device that create a common experience across PC and phone. New Icons and redesigned options.

New Camera App:

  • The native camera app is an enhanced “Lumia Camera” app but features changed icons and look
  • Now you can control “Flash”, White Balance, Exposure etc while recording the video using the Windows 10 Camera app. And some controls are available when using the FFC too.
  • The built-in camera app includes rich capture by default and video recording has options up to 120fps for some of the devices (Slow-Mo)
  • Camera Settings & Pivot menu has new look
  • Digital Video stabilization is finally here

Cortana Changes:

  • Cortana appears in the middle now
  • You can access the settings without leaving Cortana Home
  • New Hamburger Menu with setting moving to Notebook
  • Get missed call notifications and send texts on your PC with Cortana: With this build on your phone, Cortana will now notify you on your PC (needs to be running Build 10565 or higher) that you missed a call. When you miss a call, you can reply with a text to the person who called you right from your PC and Cortana will have your phone send it.

  • If you want to send a text from your PC at any time (even when you haven’t missed a call), just type or speak “Text” and the name of a contact to Cortana on your PC just like you would on your phone and Cortana will take your message and send it from your phone too!

  • For this to work – all you need to do is make sure you are signed into Cortana with the same Microsoft Account on both your phone and PC and Cortana will take care of the rest. If you have multiple PCs and don’t want to receive missed call notifications on one of those PCs, you can go to Cortana’s Notebook and then to Settings to toggle “Missed call notifications” to off on any PC on which you don’t want to receive these notifications. If you would prefer that your phone not send the notification at all, you can go to Cortana’s Notebook and then to Settings to toggle “Missed call notifications” to off and the phone won’t send the notification to any of your PCs.
  • Cortana improvements: Cortana can help keep track of your leisure time, including movie and event reminders and will give you helpful information to know where to go and to get there on time, including an option to book and track an Uber ride directly from Cortana. With this improvement, you can book an Uber any time you want by saying ‘Book an Uber’ and Cortana will get you a ride immediately. You can even take an Uber to the airport, simply say ‘Book an Uber to SeaTac airport,’ or any other airport recognized by Bing that allows Uber, and have Cortana book you a ride to Seattle-Tacoma airport, JFK, ATL or wherever your travels take you.

Integrated Skype Messaging, calling and video experience:

  • Windows 10 Mobile brings Skype integration through the Messaging, Phone and Skype video universal Windows apps.
  • You can now use Skype from Messaging app for creating reading and replying to Skype Messages. You can place audio / video call on Skype from Messaging app.
  • Skype Video is a separate app and has a totally revamped UI and design

  • You can integrate you Phone number with your Skype account now.
  • The Messaging app now supports animated GIFs and includes the ability to search your messages. And the Phone app has the ability to search for contacts from Call History.

Universal Store App:

  • Completely new universal Store app
  • Brand new UI with Hamburger Menu on Mobile devices

  • Apps, Games, Music & Movies & TV appear as separate Menu pages
  • Downloads & Updates appear as a new dedicated option and it is easier to check for updates.

Phone App:

  • Phone and Dialler App has a redesigned look
  • Speed Dial is here
  • Now you can edit number by moving cursor across while keying the number from the Phone Dialer.
  • Skype is integrated to Phone app and dialed Skype contacts also appear in Phone app’s call history

  • Mobile & SIM settings app has been redesigned and sports a new UI
  • Phone and Messaging apps are redesigned and the UI may be liked or disliked depending upon your taste.
  • In both Phone and messaging apps you can chose “Spam Filter” app and even app for “caller Id”.

People & Contact:

  • Recent update brought GroupMe and Windows Group creation options in Groups.
  • New redesigned People Live Tile with circular contact profiles

File Explorer:

  • One of the best new app or feature you will love to use on Windows 10 Mobile
  • It is fast and intuitive. A simple yet powerful File explorer.
  • It comes with Hamburger Menu with Recent & This Device options
  • You can create new folders under the main folders and even copy and move them
  • You can Move, copy, share, Rename items in File explorer

Offline maps & Revamped Maps app:
  • You can now save offline maps to a SD card and also the map download works in background too.
  • Maps app is revamped and packs many new features and changes that makes it a much better app
  • New Hamburger Menu that has search, directions, Favorites and 3D cities
  • Voice Navigation and Alternate Routes are here
  • You can use Car, Public Transport and Pedestrian navigation options
  • You can add location for your Home and where you car is parked

Microsoft Edge Browser:

  • Microsoft Edge replaces Internet Explorer on Windows 10 Mobile
  • The browser comes with new UI and rendering Engine

  • Sharing has moved to the vertical part of the bottom pivot menu and favorites, Reading List, History and Downloads listed separately at the bottom. Though once you tap on them, the four options moves to the top, and we feel it would be better to still have them at the bottom.
  • Address bar’s Search Engine can be changed now. First of all, navigate to any search engine like “Google” in the browser. Now go to advanced settings and tap on “change” below “search in address bar with Bing” option. Now you should be able to change your search engine. Check our hands-on video for doing it if you are not able to do it yourself.

  • Bing now offers search suggestions when you type anything in address bar. Even if you change you address bar search engine to Google, search suggestions still come from Bing.
  • Favorites can be synced now across devices. You can toggle it on or off.
  • If a site has side bar then it can be now accessed or hidden by tapping on right or left >> << indicators as shown in the screenshot above.

Enhanced Email, Calendar & Accounts settings:

  • Recent update to Mail app brought “Linked Inboxes” and Settings page revamp.

  • Accounts settings are enhanced. “Your Email & Accounts” option now has all the “Email, Calendar and Contacts” accounts and even the accounts used by other accounts like “Facebook” listed. Ease to manage from one central place.

  • Outlook Mail has in-line reply, toggle to choose mail accounts, one tap integration to Outlook Calendar, much better message typing and very rich formatting features. You can also swipe left or right to do many things like delete, mark unread, Flag based on what you select in settings
  • Outlook Calendar has integration with Outlook Mail and a easy to use UI. Though it still looks incomplete.
  • Tapping on Hamburger button now doesn’t reveal all mail boxes but you need to again tap on the current mail account to reveal all configured accounts to choose from.
  • Mail reading view has a new look and the quick action buttons have moved to bottom with all new icons and design.
  • Settings page now have more options like Background Picture
  • Calendar has a new quick action button that allows to swap between day and agenda view
  • Tapping on the Month on top of the calendar brings Monthly view
  • Settings show new color options and the settings page has a new look

Battery Saver & Background apps:

  • Allows you to add or remove individual apps that can run in background and also push notifications, even when Battery Saver is on.
  • New icons for File explorer and Battery Saver action button
  • The Battery Saver settings has got the options to control background apps back. Go to Settings–>System–>Battery Saver
  • Tap on Battery use and you will be able to see all the apps that run in background. Tapping on any app takes you to detailed settings, where you can chose whether the app runs in background or even when Battery Saver is on.

  • Tap on Battery saver settings and you will be taken to the second screenshot below, where you can also allow push notifications from apps when the Battery Saver is on and you can also add apps that can run in background when battery saver is on. So this is an alternate way to add or control app that runs in background when battery saver is on.
  • The third screenshot below can be accessed from privacy settings. Settings—>Privacy–>Background apps. So one more place to control which apps run in background. Microsoft may streamline the whole process in coming builds we think.

Groove Music & Film & TV apps:

  • Music app is now called Groove Music while Video app has evolved as Films & TV. Both apps are redesigned from scratch
  • Both feature new Hamburger Menu UI

  • FLAC audio support is here
  • Gapless playback comes with Groove Music
  • OneDrive integration that allows music in OneDrive to sync to Music app automatically. You can also get it offline with one tap.

Recent update has added new features and  brought many changes to Groove Music. Take a look.

  • We made a significant improvement to the way we find your local music and sync your cloud music collection that makes this process much faster. This will cause a one-time rebuild of your collection when you first launch the app after this update.
  • We also simplified our logic for hiding duplicates so managing your collection is easier. We’ll no longer match local MP3s to similar ones in OneDrive or your Music Pass collection.
  • To make it more clear where your music is coming from, songs are now labeled as OneDrive, Purchased, Music Pass, or Local Only. We show you these in Select Mode (long-press, then Select) to catch you when you need them most.
  • We also added the ability for you to see the full set of details on any track with long-press, then Properties.
  • We brought back autosuggest when searching in the app and the ability to see everything you’ve searched for since you launched the app.
  • We heard your feedback about the ability to see album art in Now Playing so we added a toggle in Now Playing to allow you to choose either album art or artist art.
  • We added the ability to sort albums by release year.
  • We made playlist editing easier – you can now select multiple items in a playlist and drag them to another spot in the playlist.
  • We added better scaling so that images look better on larger devices.
  • We added the explicit tag to the list of songs in Now Playing so that it’s easier to see when a song in your queue isn’t playable because it’s explicit.
  • We also updated a few things so that the app works better on Continuum:
    • Playback will continue even if the screen locks when using Continuum.
    • We’ve continued to improve layouts of Groove at high resolution (ex: Explore Galleries & Search Results)
  • We fixed a number of reliability issues – including the one that temporarily required us to disable ‘sticky pivots’.  With this release we will once again remember what you were doing last and bring you back to the right place the next time you launch Groove.

Backup options:

  • Backup options have changed again. Now, you can toggle on or off backup to OneDrive from participating apps. This is a neat feature and will help in restoring devices without loosing app data in process.
  • Also, photos backup option has moved to the new OneDrive app and you need to setup photos backup by going to OneDrive settings (shown in screenshot above). Message backup has moved under messaging settings (Settings—->System—->Messaging).
  • Daily backups can be scheduled with and beyond Build 10051. App data and System settings have separate toggles now.

Universal Office Mobile Apps:

  • Word for Windows 10—Create and edit great looking documents with Word. Review and mark-up documents, then share your work with others to collaborate in real time. The new Insights for Office feature (powered by Bing) in Read mode brings additional online resources like images, web references and definitions right to you in your reading experience.
  • Excel for Windows 10—Use Excel to create and update spreadsheets and gain new insights as you analyze data and visualize it with charts. And new touch-first controls shine in Excel, you won’t even miss your keyboard and mouse when selecting ranges of cells, formatting your pie charts or managing your workbooks.
  • PowerPoint for Windows 10—Create and edit beautiful presentations with PowerPoint. Then use Presenter View to prepare and present with confidence, even use Ink Tools to annotate your slides in real time so your audience really knows what you are talking about.
  • OneNote for Windows 10—Capture all your thoughts, ideas and to-do’s with the new version of OneNote. Getting things done with your friends, classmates and colleagues has never been easier with shared notebooks–now with the consistent Office ribbon experience.

Developer options:

  • You can now allow your device to sideload apps by going to developer options
  • Developer Device Portal is here making sideloading of apps easier.
  • USB EEM on / off toggle in developer options

Universal Store, Apps & Islandwoods:

Microsoft has unified Windows and Windows Phone stores and devs can now use same code to create apps for Smartphones, Tablets and PCs. The new Windows Store is the single place to acquire both Windows 10 / Windows 10 Mobile apps, games and more now. Since Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile share most of the inherent code-base it is easy to use same code for both Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile apps and create apps with adaptive UI that can adapt to various screen sizes. New unified store also includes the existing catalog of over 650,000 Windows 8.x and Windows Phone 7.x/8.x Store apps.

Microsoft has also announced Islandwoods (iOS) projects to fight app gap along with the Universal Windows apps

  • iOS apps can also be ported easily as universal apps using the Islandwood tools.

Miscellaneous features:

  • If you copy text and then lock your phone on Windows 10 for Phones you don’t loose it. What that means you can unlock your phone and can still find the text copied and retained to clipboard to paste it anywhere you want. That looks quite useful.
  • Background transfers easier and more reliable. Media transcoding in the background. Read more here
  • Internet Explorer on Windows 10 for Phones now supports “Live Streaming”
  • WiGig support comes with Build 10149.
  • It has also removed the annoying cellular data use limit for app and other downloads. Now you an install heavy games using cellular data, if you wish to do so.
  • Print to PDF feature is also here. You can watch official print to PDF feature demo and read more about printing support here.

Official Videos & Hands-on Videos of the RTM / Public Release Builds:

We know it is still not the 100% complete list of what all has changed from Windows Phone 8.1 to Windows 10 Mobile, but we will keep it updated. Do let us know how we can improve this changelog.

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