It took its sweet time coming, but here we are with the official announcement of Windows Phone 8 GDR3. A handful of rumors pointed to the fact that Nokia was ready to launch a bunch of devices powered by the latest version of Microsoft’s mobile operating system.

And now the company itself has gone in and made an official announcement.

First up is the confirmation that this update will now be simply called Update 3. Thank heavens for some saner heads! GDR is not a term that everyone will get around to. General Distribution Release 3, seriously?! First Surface RT now this, job well done!

So then, Update 3 is set to include a whole bunch of new features and improvements, some of which we have seen in previously leaked details and rumors.

But the company has put up a lengthy blog post that goes over many of these changes.

One of the most important changes that are part of this update is support for bigger, higher resolution screen and more powerful processing hardware — think displays with 1080p resolutions and quad-core processors like the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chipset.

Another important feature that is to be integrated into Update 3 is Driving Mode.

It works with a connected Bluetooth device, and actually limits notifications on the Lock Screen like text messages, calls, and quick status alerts until a user reaches his or her destination. It can also send customized replies to people that contact the user while he or she is driving.

An amazingly simple, yet highly useful addition, it must be said.

Improved Internet sharing is also in. This will allow you to turn your Windows Phone 8 devices into mobile hotspots without having to enter a password or enabling the Internet Sharing feature.

A few small improvements are also set for arrival. Things like new accessibility features (a screen reader), customizable ringtones, new rotation lock options, better storage management, an App Switcher to quickly close apps, and enhanced WiFi and Bluetooth access.

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