Microsoft officially announced the redesigned Windows Phone 8.1 for mobile devices. It features lots of improvements including a personal virtual assistant, dedicated action centre, new lock screen and Sense apps.
Windows 8.1 Release Date
Microsoft introduced the upcoming Windows Phone 8.1 OS for mobile devices at the Build developer conference and it is expected to be rolled out in the next few months for any mobile devices running Windows Phone 8 which includes selected Nokia Lumia and Microsoft Surface tablets.
Registered Microsoft developers may get glimpses of Windows 8.1 update as early as April 10th 2014.
I am Cortana, Your Virtual Assistant
Microsoft now offers a personal virtual assistant named Cortana to rival Apple’s Siri and Android’s Google Now. It acts very similar with Siri, which can perform Internet searches thru Bing, send messages, add notes, set reminders for you, get directions or navigations, schedule calendar events, generate information about places, retrieve sports details, display current weather and more.
In terms of Google Now, Cortana can also bring in feeds based on custom notifications on your personal information and data usage. By default, it generates feeds from Bing and Foursquare for places and events but will evolve on how much you use it. Cortana will be initially available in the U.S. followed by UK and China then others, later on.
Dedicated Action Centre
Action Centre in Windows computers is different from the mobile version. Windows Phone 8.1 Action Centre allows users to customise Quick Setting toggles that include controls for brightness, location settings, screen orientation, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and more. The notifications drawer includes all the ongoing notifications from your email app, messaging app, dialler app and Cortana.
New Lock Screen with Custom Tiles
Lock screen on Windows Phone 8.1 is now customisable that features cool lock screen themes, custom app entries, custom backgrounds and a choice to have a third live tile column. Due to the great APIs used in the new software, Windows Phone 8.1 devices can now become unique and truly personalised.
Internet Explorer 11
Default browser Internet Explorer gets an update to version 11 on Windows Phone 8.1 and it features reading view to grab text details for easy reading, password manager that syncs across multiple devices, Incognito Mode for private browsing, WebGL support and YouTube’s HTML5 video player.
New Enterprise and Security
With Windows Phone 8.1, your device will get the latest VPN support for more secure Internet surfing. In addition, WP 8.1 supports S/MIME for enabling encryption on your email clients.
New Sense Apps
Windows Phone 8.1 features three main Sense apps – Battery Power Sense, Data, and Wi-Fi Sense. Battery Power Sense tracks down what apps consume resources and power by displaying details in a handy overview. You can exclude certain apps on a list using the battery saver option.
Data and we-Fi Sense comes together, which monitors data networks. It also allows users to share secure Wi-Fi networks to Skype, Facebook and Outlook contacts without sharing the password. It can find and connect to free open Wi-Fi networks automatically as well.
Mobiles with Windows Phone 8.1 can use Photo Apps such as Instagram and Photosynth to enhance photos. Lens apps built inside the camera app can add filters and special effects. Also, your camera app can now perform Burst Mode to shoot multiple photos and get organised photos with Collection feature.
Search, Start and Back buttons are now on-screen software keys instead of using hardware keys to press.
Quiet Hours feature enables control over certain groups of people allowed to reach you during a specific period of the day.
This new feature dethroned Galaxy S4 as the fastest writing tool on a smartphone in the Guinness World Record due to Swype-like input method. Wordflow allows you to quickly input words by swiping through the letters.