Windows Phone developers can now install the latest version of Microsoft’s mobile operating system on their personal devices. The company announced today that Windows Phone 8.1 is available through the Windows Phone Preview program, so devs can get a head start on building apps for the new update, which will be rolling out to consumers later this year.
The new update contains a number of new features for developers to take advantage of, including Cortana, the company’s virtual assistant. Developers will be able to put hooks into their applications that allow users to access certain functions of third-party applications using Cortana.
The launch of Windows Phone 8.1 will also allow developers to create universal apps that work with Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1, because the two operating systems share a kernel. It means that devs can create one core app that runs on phones, tablets and PCs, and only need to build a new user interface for each experience.
Consumers waiting to get their hands on the new software will have to wait a little while. The update will start rolling out with the release of new Nokia Lumia phones in May and June, and will continue later into the year with older phones as Nokia gets carrier approval for each update. Developers can download the Preview for Developers Windows Phone app, and follow the included instructions to get set up.