Windows Phone 8.1 Supports VPN, SD Card Installs, Universal Apps, New YouTube App

Boy, this is hot! Microsoft recently sent invitations to developers to take part in Windows Phone 8.1 SDK testing, and even though the process is confidential, details have already leaked out on what this upcoming refresh brings.

A Reddit user has compiled a list of features in the preview build of Windows Phone 8.1 along with a bunch of new screenshots, with a promise to document any and all changes discovered in the new Windows Phone 8.1 SDK.

First up is the news that the SDK now includes support Universal Apps — a feature that aims to merge both Windows RT and Windows Phone applications.

Microsoft has hinted this a couple of times already, and it appears things are moving forward on this front at breakneck speed. In fact, Windows Phone apps are now packaged with the (.appx) extension, similar to Windows 8 and Windows RT apps.

Another interesting new addition is the inclusion of a YouTube player app. Less said about it the better, but nice to see the company taking care of users this way, even if Google is playing hard to catch.

Next up — and this is something that should please business and power users — is the inclusion of virtual private network (VPN) support. It took a long time coming, but it is finally here!

Additionally, the new build also includes the ability to monitor and track battery life, along with the option of changing the default messaging application.

SkyDrive has also been rebranded as OneDrive in this new version of the mobile operating system.

The company has also improved multitasking abilities in Windows Phone 8.1. Pressing the back button no longer quits an application if there is nothing to go back to. Instead, the application in question simply suspends into the background, just as is the case on Windows 8 and RT.

And finally, users can install apps on SD cards, though developers will retain the ability to prevent SD card installs of their apps if they so desire.

Feature packed as it is, this is still an early test version of the Windows Phone 8.1 SDK, and a full preview build is on track for release for developers at the BUILD developer conference in April.

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