Chandrakant 'CK' Isi
04th Apr 2014
Four years ago, Microsoft was struggling to battle iOS and Android with its ageing Windows platform. The situation hasn’t changed much today, the software giant is still lagging behind Apple and Google in the mobile space. However, at least now, Microsoft has got a modern OS at its disposal, and it's getting better with time. Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president & manager for Windows Phone, unveiled the latest iteration of Microsoft’s mobile platform at BUILD conference. Dubbed Windows Phone 8.1, the update brings a lot of new features to the table.
Enhanced Start Screen
Those who made a switch to Windows Phone would definitely appreciate its fluidness. But, at the same time, they must be missing the customisability offered by Android. However, the situation is set to change with the Windows Phone 8.1 update. Users can now set custom background for the Start screen. Moreover, the company has added a new app that lets you set a wide range of interesting Lock Screen Themes. This feature lets you personalise the lockscreen right from the visual style to animations.
To compete with Apple’s Siri, Microsoft unveiled its personal digital assistant called Cortana. Named after the AI character from the popular Xbox game Halo, Cortana can be triggered by pressing the search button on your device. You can interact with her with voice or keyboard input. It’s powered by Bing, which works well in the US, but not very relevant for India. Cortana will launch in the U.S. first as a “beta,” followed by the U.K. and China. For the rest of the world, it is expected to roll-out in 2015.
Tighter Skype Integration
In the latest iteration, Windows Phone OS comes with tight Skype integration. Instead of treating as the third-party app, WP devices will now let you place Skype calls right from the phone dialler. If you’re too lazy to place a call, you can ask Cortana to set it up for you.
In Windows Phone, live tiles bring all the latest updates right onto your start screen. Still many users have been requesting an Android-esque dedicated notification bar. Based on the consumer feedback, Microsoft finally introduced the Action Center to enable notifications. Ot also gives quick access to Wi-Fi, Flight Mode, Bluetooth, and Rotation Lock toggles.
Internet Explorer 11
The Internet Explorer 11 offers a slew of new features. You now get the reading view, which extracts texts from an article distraction free reading experience. Then there’s an InPrivate mode, which works like Google Chrome’s incognito window. IE mobile is now compatible with WebGL and YouTube’s HTML5 video player.
If you were missing Android’s Swipe keyboard on your WP device, there’s a good news for you. Windows Phone 8.1 comes with the new ‘Word Flow Keyboard’ that lets you type quickly with swipe action.
Individual Volume Settings
WP8 phones were criticised for the unified volume control. Now finally, in Windows Phone 8.1 you can set volume for ringtones and music playback independently.
Apart from these major changes, Microsoft has also added a few new features to PeopleHub, Camera app, and Xbox Music (not available in India). The Windows Phone 8.1 update is compatible with all the existing WP8 devices including the budget Nokia Lumia 520. It will come preinstalled on all upcoming WP handsets starting from the Lumia 630 and 635 and Lumia 930. Developers would get to test the latest build as early as 10 of this month.
Top Windows Phone 8.1 Features You Need To Know About | TechTree.com
Top Windows Phone 8.1 Features You Need To Know About
Find out what's new in the latest iteration of Microsoft's mobile platform.
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