Why we’re excited about Windows Phone 8.0 GDR2

Whilst the GDR2 update is quite a subtle refresh for Windows Phone 8.0, it does address many quirks of the underlying operating system. All things considered, Microsoft’s transition from Windows Phone 7.x and the old Windows CE kernel to the PC Windows NT kernel on Windows Phone 8.0 was nothing short of astounding with many industry pundits likening the move to changing the wheels of a car whilst driving at 70mph.

Ever since the Mango update to Windows Phone 7.5, there has been a little-talked-about type of background task called a Resource Intensive Task which will run in certain conditions (typically when the phone is charging and on WiFi). This form of background processing gives us 10 minutes of maximum CPU every hour or so, allowing us to download your favourite podcasts ready for the next day’s listening and enjoyment. The magical bit is that Podcast Lounge doesn’t need to be running – just installed with some favourites selected. It’s all automatic. Don’t be fooled by some other apps claiming this: They are talking about background downloads which need to be initiated from within the app’s UI, you are then free to navigate away, safe in the knowledge that the download won’t get cancelled (we do that too by the way!). We talk about it a little more here.

The problem was that this fantastic function did not work on the first release of Windows Phone 8.0. We raised the issue through our channels to Microsoft back in December and sure enough, they were able to replicate the issue at their end; this critical feature to us either didn’t get fully tested, or in the rush to meet the launch timelines, didn’t get completed in time. Unfortunately with the way major development and testing schedules work, we missed the window for the GDR 1 update which came in Spring. All eyes have been on the GDR2 update that’s due to be released this Summer.

We can now confirm that GDR2 addresses this problem meaning that once you get the software update, you’ll be able to enjoy automatic downloading of your favourite podcasts. Rafe Blandford over at All About Windows Phone was able to fire up Podcast Lounge on his Lumia 925 review device and confirm all was working. Many thanks to him and the team for doing that for us.

Our users have been incredibly patient as we had to try and explain why we had no control over this problem. The great news is that after 6 months of waiting, automatic downloads on Windows Phone 8.0 are only a few weeks away. Happy podcasting!