Microsoft this week announced a new Gestures Beta release that works with some of its Windows Phone-based Lumia smart phones. Contrary to the name, this interesting tool doesn't require you to gesticulate with your hands in front of the phone. Instead, it triggers smart actions based on how you position and place the phone during calls.
"Gestures Beta focuses on improving the caller experience," Microsoft senior product manager Martin Jansky explains. "With this release you will be able to answer a call by bringing your Lumia to your ear, mute the microphone during call by putting the device display down, or put an ongoing call to the speaker when the device is placed on the table, display up."'
Gestures Beta is a Settings app that lets you control various gesture-based features. These include:
Silence incoming calls when you place the phone face-down on a surface.
Answer incoming calls when you raise the phone to your ear.
Toggle speaker mode when you place the phone face up on a surface or raise it to your ear during a call.
Mute the microphone when you place the phone face-down on a surface during a call.
Jansky says that the long-term goal is to improve the Gestures settings app with a larger set of gestures for controlling the device without touching the display or pressing buttons. There is a UserVoice button built right in the app so users can provide feedback and help guide future improvements.
The sticky bit, of course, is that Gestures Beta is only available to Windows Phone 8.1-based Microsoft/Nokia Lumia handsets, and only some Lumias at that: You'll need a Lumia 535, Lumia 830, Lumia 730/735, 630/635 or Lumia 530 to use this app at all, and the latter three devices (Lumia 630/635 and Lumia 530) only have limited Gestures functionality (no doubt because they lack proximity sensors).
Here's a video showing off this functionality.