At Microsoft build conference last night, Microsoft officially announced Windows Phone 8.1 and Nokia was also present to flaunt three new phones which will ship with the new operating system soon enough. The new windows brings several enticing features including personal voice assistant, a full blown notification center and much more.
Cortana Voice Assistant
First and foremost feature is the arrival of Cortana, a personal voice assistant and also Microsoft’s horse to take on Google Now and Siri. As enthusiastic gamers will know, Cortana derives its name from artificially intelligent computer in Halo series.
Cortana can intercept voice commands and interact with third party apps like Twitter, facebook, etc. and can follow your voice commands for several actions. You can say “what’s up with this person” and it will direct you to that persons facebook page. Cortana also keeps track of your frequent searches and sets reminders. It will also set your schedule and alert you for conflicting dates. Of course Crotona can do much more than this and we will dive in to more features soon.
All new Action Center
Actions Center aka Notification which was much awaited in Windows Phone is now official. The Action center is a pull down notification drawer and contains quick settings, new notifications, battery and SIM information.
New Lock Screen and Home Screen Options
With Windows Phone 8.1, you will also be able to change lock screen appearance. You can download several themes for lock screen on Windows Phone 8.1 which includes new clocks and unlock animations. The wallpaper that you set for lock screen will also be visible behind the home screen transparent tiles. Yes, you also get the option to add transparent tiles to your Windows Phone 8.1 lock screen. Every Windows Phone 8.1 device can now have the third column of home screen tiles irrespective of the display size.
Another important Windows Phone 8.1 feature is universal apps. This means that developers can now make apps which can run on Windows Phone, Windows Tablets and Windows desktop computers. This opens all sort of interesting possibilities. The App store also features new looks in the latest Windows phone 8.1.
Microsoft has added and improved ‘senses’ in Windows Phone 8.1. Data Sense helps you get more out of cellular data by reducing amount of data that you use. Battery Saver lets you keep an eye on your battery and finds ways to make it last longer. Storage Sense lets you download apps on SD card to save internal memory space.
A new WiFi Sense feature will let you share WiFi with your friends without giving them password. It will also automatically connect you to free public WiFi hotspots.
Windows Phone 8.1 will also include a Swype like keyboard which allows continuous input for fast typing. You will also get the option to convert regular phone calls to Skype video calls. For business users, Microsoft is adding support for enterprise VPN and S/MIME, allowing you to encrypt and sign emails.
New Partners and Availability
The New Windows 8.1 roll out is expected to begin in early May next month and will complete over next few months. Nokia Lumia 630, 635 and 930 will bring Windows Phone 8.1 to market before the update rolls out. Microsoft Windows will be free for all devices smaller than 9 Inches in Size from now onward. Microsoft also announced two new Windows Phone partners – Micromax and Pretigio. Prototype phones running Windows Phone 8.1 from both manufacturers were showcased and we can expect Micromax to launch it’s Windows Phone 8.1 based smartphone in India soon.