Coding Paradox

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Windows Phone 8.1 Hands On

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Microsoft recently released Windows Phone 8.1 as a developer preview for Developer Unlocked phones. Anyone having a developer unlocked phone can install the OS update and get to try out the new features. I installed it on my Lumia 520 and here are some of the new features which are worth mentioning.

New Features

Cortana (Personal Assistant)

‘Cortana’ is a digital personal assistant and Microsoft’s version of Apple’s Siri and Google Now. Currently it is only available to US region only but even if you are from a different region you can try it out by changing your phone’s Location setting to US. This is one of the biggest new feature introduced and it is here to make your life easier. Instead of searching for anything, you can ask Cortana to do it for you. It can be voice activated or you can simply type in the questions that you want to ask. You can ask things like “Set a reminder for gym at 5 am”, “Play Wake Me Up by Greenday”, “Find bars near my place” etc. Currently as it for US region only, the location based search won’t work well if you are in some other regions but for other things, it worked great.

More Tiles on Start Screen & Start Screen background

   

You now have more space across the screen to arrange your tiles. Earlier you could have 4 small tiles across the screen, but now you can have maximum 6 tiles across the screen. You can also now have a background as a start screen image. Tiles which have transparent background will show the image while tiles having opaque background will hide the image. This makes the Start screen more personalized.

To enable this go to Settings –> (start + theme) –> Show More Tiles or Choose Photo

Action Center

An Action Center is now present which displays the notifications and also provides some quick settings for you to modify. You can swipe down the screen from top to enable it. You can also configure to it to specify which applications can show notifications there.

To modify it Go To Settings –> (notifications + alert)

Word Flow Keyboard

This is something which everyone if going to like. Instead of typing each letter on the keyboard, you can now glide your finger over the screen.

Close Apps From Task List

On accessing the task switcher, you can now close the applications by swiping down or tapping the close button.

Move Apps to SD card

You now have the option to install apps on the SD card instead of phone memory. Existing apps can also be moved to SD card though for some apps it won’t be possible

Enhanced Battery Saver

You have more control over the apps that affect battery life. You can specify which apps are allowed to run as background tasks when battery saver is on.

Internet Explorer 11

Windows Phone 8.1 comes with IE 11 which also supports offline apps. The settings provide some additional options that you can modify.

Performance

I have noticed that Windows Phone 8.1 is much faster as compared to Windows Phone 8. The apps start more quickly and even app resume is also much faster. The IE 11 also renders pages quite fast as compared to earlier version. The screenshot key is also changed. Now you have to press the Power button + Volume Up button to take screenshot.

Almost all the features especially ‘Cortana’ will be useful.

Written by Mako

February 20th, 2014 at 6:49 pm