Microsoft just unveiled the latest version of their very own Operating System for mobile phones and tablets, the Windows Phone 8.1. Aside from the usual bug fixes and performance boost, the new release of the Windows Phone OS brings a number of new features Windows Phone fans will absolutely enjoy.
Although there’s no specific date yet, once the update gets released in the coming months, current Nokia Lumia owners on Windows Phone 8 will receive an over-the-air update of the latest WP 8.1 release. Catch some of the new key features found on the Windows Phone 8.1 listed below.
Ever since the launch of the very first Windows Phone 7 way back in 2010, the mobile platform never had its very own notification center. But this is about to change as Windows Phone 8.1 comes with a dedicated notification center, dubbed as the “Action Center”. Aside from the usual Text, missed Calls, Calendar, Social networking notifications and the like, the Action Center also holds customizable toggles for brightness, screen auto-rotate locks, location settings and even Wi-Fi and Bluetooth switches–something similar to what Android or iOS has.
Apple’s Siri started the whole trend for a native personal virtual assistant on a mobile OS back in 2011, together with the release of the good old iPhone 4S. Almost three years after, Microsoft finally gave in and joined the trend, releasing their very own personal virtual assistant for the Windows Phone 8.1 devices, called the Cortana.
Aside from the usual web searches for sports, maps and the like, the Bing-powered Cortana also lets users set reminders, check calendar entries and even call people. Well, it is what you expect from a mobile-based virtual assistant. Cortana, a she, will first be available in the US, followed by the UK, China and other countries.
“The most intuitive smartphone keyboard, yet” as claimed by a post on Nokia Communities, Word Flow reminds us so much of the old Swipe app found on the Nokia C7 and Nokia N8. With Word Flow, instead of typing each letter of your text, you just need to glide your finger over the letters on the screen, and the device actually tries to predict the words you’re typing.
What’s interesting about Word Flow is it’s adaptability. The more you use the app, the more precise it’ll be when predicting the words you’re typing. Currently, Microsoft announced that Word Flow supports up to 16 languages.
Other Key features
With the Windows Phone 8.1 release, users will find an updated lock screen, capable of displaying custom calendar entries and new themes as well. Users can now also change the background of the live tiles on the home screen, for a more personal look of their device.
There’s also the new Internet Explorer 11, which comes with an InPrivate mode, disabling the history and cookie feature of the browser.
Another feature users will find on the Windows Phone 8.1 is called Quiet Hours, accessible through the settings app of the device. It pretty much works just like the Do not disturb feature on iOS devices. Once set on, you’ll only get notifications from select contacts.
Finally, screenshots of the Windows Phone 8.1 suggests on-screen keys, finally eliminating the need for hardware keys on future Windows Phone devices.
Now these are just some of the new key features announced for the Windows Phone 8.1 release. Expect to see all of these and more on your Nokia Lumia device running on Windows Phone 8 once the update called the Lumia Cyan goes live, this summer.
But, if you’re a registered Microsoft developer, then expect to get a sneak peak of the latest Windows Phone version as early as April 10.