Got a Windows phone on you? The good news is that Microsoft will be rolling out a free update of Windows 8.1 for Windows 8 devices in the coming months. This is a really big update and there are some cool features that you can look forward to when it eventually lands on your phone. Here are 10 great features we expect to see in the latest update.
Top 10 Great Features in Windows Phone 8.1
The Notification and Action Center
Windows 8.1 is finally getting the Notification Center, a place where you can get all the latest happenings on your device live in one central place. Simply swipe down from the top of your Home screen to find all your latest email messages, text messages, social media updates and more. There are four Action Center buttons that will quickly take you to commonly used functions such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Internet Sharing and such.
Windows phones will finally be getting a digital voice assistant called Cortana, who takes after the AI character in the Halo video games series. You can ask Cortana a whole lot of questions such as where the nearest Lebanese restaurant is, and how long it will take for you to get there. Apart from that Cortana will be able to set alarms, activate or deactivate settings, make or block calls and text messages, set reminders and more. What makes Cortana so realistic and personal is that you can tell her to remind you to give your brother the gift you bought him, the next time you see him. The feature will be available this year in the US UK and China, but Asia is most likely to see this feature in 2015.
Quiet Hours is a very handy feature that lets you set the hours when you don’t want to be disturbed by any sort of calls or notifications. However, in exceptional cases, you will receive notifications of calls or texts, such as when you are contacted by people in your inner circle.
The Windows 8.1 update will bring a third column of tiles to all smartphones regardless of their screen size. Users will also be able to customize the Start screen background with an image.The Live tiles will take on a translucent look so that the photo background will be visible as users scroll up and down. Screens with no live tiles however will remain opaque so there’s still no ability to view the background image.
Work Flow Keyboard
If you’ve been ruing the fact that your Windows phone did not have a Swype-like keyboard, you’ll be delighted to learn that it will now be available in the form of Word Flow.
Keeping track of your mobile data usage is always an annoying task. Luckily, Windows does a decent job in helping you with that. With Windows 8.1, it gets a whole lot better. The feature called Data Sense lets you see how much of your data you have used up as well as the apps that have been steadily eating up your data. When your data limit comes closer to the end point, the phone will limit its usage and try and use Wi-Fi if possible. The only downside to Data Sense is that mobile operators support will be required to make this work so implementation may take some time for it to be truly effective.
Just like Data Sense, Wi-Fi Sense automatically connects your device to good free Wi-Fi hotspots, where possible. Not only that, the feature will also connect to your Facebook, Skype and Outlook friends’ secure Wi-Fi hotspots.
Storage Sense makes it easy for you to move content between the internal memory and SD card.
Battery Saver displays apps that are using your battery power, giving you a better understanding of which apps consume more power so that you can turn them off when you don’t need them, thereby extending your battery life. Microsoft is saying that with this new feature, users will be able to extend their battery life to 24 hours with just 20% remaining life.
Other App Improvements
Apart from the major features outlined above, Windows 8.1 will also be getting plenty of app updates. For instance the Calendar app will now get a Week view, the Music app will let you edit playlists and manage your songs that are stored in the cloud. The Photos app will let you organize photos by time and location and even support online albums. The Podcast app will let you subscribe to RSS feeds while the Camera app will bring plenty of improved features. For navigation purposes, all devices can get ready to gear up to HERE Drive+ which offers loads of maps for your nav needs. Skype will be getting feature improvements too including the ability to upgrade cellular calls to Skype video.
Here’s a video demo of the phone in action.
Windows Phone 8.1 will be rolling out to existing Windows 8 devices as a free update in the coming months. Get ready to enjoy a much more personalized Windows Phone experience with Windows Phone 8.1.