New Windows 10 Mobile Build Brings One-Handed Operation to All Phones

Microsoft releases another test build of the smartphone OS as the clock ticks down to a possible Windows 10 launch in October.

Windows 10 Mobile

Windows 10 Mobile, successor to Windows Phone 8.1, is inching closer to release with a new preview build that irons out some lingering issues.

Among them is a one-handed mode that makes using the mobile operating system easier on larger handsets when a person's hands are full. In Windows 10 Mobile build 10536 for participants of the Windows Insider early access program, the feature comes to smaller hardware.

"In this build, we have also enabled the ability to use one-handed mode on all phones which can be enabled by pressing and holding the Start button," wrote Gabe Aul, general manager of the Data and Fundamentals unit in Microsoft's Operating Systems group, in Sept. 14 online update. "When you do this, your screen will slide down so you can reach items at the top of your screen."

A tap of the blank part of the screen or holding the Start button restores the screen. "One-handed use will also naturally time out after several seconds and return to your regular view," Aul said.

Also new in the latest build is faster photo viewing, zooming and panning along with select image organization options.

"This update introduces a folder view 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," Aul revealed.

The release of build 10536 also suggests that Microsoft is getting ready to show off Windows 10 Mobile and new smartphones running the OS during an upcoming hardware-related media event in New York set to take place early next month.

On Sept. 14, the Redmond, Wash., company sent invitations to industry watchers for a gathering Oct. 6. "We have some exciting news to share about Windows 10 devices," read Microsoft's email.

Early rumblings suggest that new high-end Windows 10 Mobile smartphones will be making an appearance along with the long-awaited successor to the company's Surface Pro 3 tablet, perhaps updated with the latest "Skylake" processor technology from Intel. A slimmer Xbox One video game and media streaming console and a new version of Microsoft's fitness-themed wearable, the Band 2, are also expected to show up.

Owners of the photo-centric Lumia 1020 smartphone will need to revert back to Windows 8.1 to restore its full photographic functionality or wait a bit longer for Microsoft to release a compatible Camera app, Aul said.

"If you recently upgraded your Lumia 1020 to a Windows 10 Insider Preview build, you might have been disappointed that your camera wasn't working like you expect," he wrote. "Many of the Lumia 1020's camera features, like 41MP capture and DNG files, only work with the Lumia Camera app. While the app works with Windows 10 Mobile, it won't be available for download from the Store until later this fall."

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...