Windows Phone 8 GDR3 may now be official, but don’t think for a second that means that we’re taking a break from hearing all sorts of rumors about upcoming features for the platform. Now, instead of towards GDR3, we’re looking out at Windows Phone 8.1, expected sometime in spring of next year. We’ve already heard a few suggestions of what we’d end up seeing, and today we get another take on one of the more controversial idea to show us thus far: that WP8.1 could do away with the hardware back button.
That’s what we heard last week, at least, and we had plenty of questions at the time, including just how this would work with existing apps. Today, a source explains that even if Microsoft goes through with this (and it’s looking like it will), the back button will still live on, though as a virtual on-screen button, just as we’ve seen happen with some Android handsets.
In fact, from the sound of this, we could be losing all three capacitive buttons, replacing them with on-screen versions in order to reduce manufacturing costs. That’s a very different change than simply that “ditching the back button” talk from last week, and this ends up sounding quite a bit more plausible.
There’s also the possibility that this could be tied to those rumors of Microsoft talking to OEMs about bringing Windows Phone as an option to their Android hardware – with so many Android phones going buttonless, giving the same feature to WP could really help out with compatibility.
Source: The Verge