Later on today the developer preview of Windows Phone 8.1 will be released and it comes with quite a bit of new features and some changes to the Microsoft latest Windows Phone operating system. I have summed up before a list of the leaked features but today I can share with you what I have found to be different and new in Windows Phone 8.1. And I am not just talking showing you Cortana or the Word flow keyboard :). I have small little nuances that makes great improvements that enhances the user experience. At the bottom of this article I also have a small video showing a feature many of us wanted for a long time.
If you are not a developer you can still get this update early by registering for free as I have had described earlier when the developer preview program was released with the GDR 3 update for Windows Phone 8.
You probably will be able to read and see large written reviews by the popular Windows Phone news sites but I will give you below a very easy quick overview of what I have found to be handy (tips), improvement or a new feature. This article will be updated quite often since there are many great changes and new features with this amazing update. I tried to group the bullets below but many of these bullets cross over into the others.
Windows Phone 8.1 Tips, Improvements and New Features
Other Windows Phone 8.1 articles
- You will have 4 quick buttons that you can assign for quick access. (5 Buttons on hte Nokia Lunia 1520). The image below shows you the pick list of options.Missing from the top of this pick list is the airplane mode.
- Each individual app notification listing can be cleared by swyping it to the right. Similar to clearing a toast notification.
- Check Battery status in percentages quickly. – When you drag down the action center just a little bit from the top of the screen (Even in the lock screen)
- Quick date next to battery percentage. (See image above)
- Notification Icon on top tool bar. (See Image above)
- Call History list has been modified – The call phone icon in the front has been replaced with a contact icon in the back. Tapping on the name or number not listed in your people hub now will call back the person immediately using the last number details. Tapping on the contact icon will get you to all the contact information of that person if you have it stored in the phone or allows you to save it.
- Tap and Holding the name or number not listed in your people hub will give you know option to add this number as a speed dial or see more details, like duration, on the call or all calls made with this person.
- The incoming call screen will give you the extra option to connect via Skype. The call won’t be disconnected until a Skype call has been connected.
- All text and SMS messages are synchronized to each device that is connected to your Microsoft account. For example if you have a second with a different number all messages will still sync from the other phone with a different phone number. That could be confusing to the receiver if you text them back from the other phone number if they don’t know about this number.
- When attaching images to an email you will get now a preview of the images in the body of the email.
- There is now a new option available in the “Download new email” settings of each account. I’s called “Based on my usage”. This allows the phone to automatically adjust how often i downloads your email based on how often you read those emails of that specific account.
- Highly missing from the email client is the capability of editing the original email when replying or forwarding it someone.
Key Windows Phone 8.1 features
- Cortana is the great new digital voice assistant. It works with your operating system, apps and Bing services together to get the best help and results. It is still in Beta and will only get better.
- Cortana reminders can be assigned a separate color in your Calendar app.
- Reminders set by using Cortana can be in the form of: ” Next time I talk to my daughter I need to tell her to bring money for lunch”. And indeed the next time my daughter called me I can see the reminder on the answer screen.
- Background image as replacement of Theme colors for the theme colored tiles on your start screen.
- The Word Flow keyboard allows you to enter text quickly like Swype is as an app on the competition. Switching to another language keyboard will disable the Word Flow!!
- The Share function allows easily navigate to you most recent share options. No scrolling down anymore.
- Facebook integration with the People Hub now can be found in the Facebook app. The What’s new section in the People Hub will show larger images. Tapping to comment will bring you to the Facebook app again.
- In the “Me Tile” for now you can only post only to either Twitter or Facebook. Posting to both at the same time is missing!
- You can manage the type of notifications by each app individually. Some apps have three different options: Banners, Sounds and Vibrations.
- Background tasks to mange apps running in the background is now located under “Battery Saver”. You can now easily turn them on and off.
- Internet explorer 11 syncs yours favorites from your windows devices onto the phone. Even previous tabs on other devices are an option to choose.
- Internet Explorer has the read view capability. If an “open book” icon shows up on the address bar you can click it to go to the read view. It basically eliminates the whole website structure (logo, ads, etc) and will only display the Article and images in the body and is perfectly displayed for easy reading on your Windows Phone 8.1. Hitting the back button gets you back in the IE11 browser.
- Internet Explorer 11 on Windows Phone allows to add a “New In-private Tab”. You can access this easily by tapping on the “tab” icon in the bottom address bar then followed by tapping the “three dots” next to the “+” icon.
- The Store is updated in their UI but I wanted to show you two extra pages you can see. One is called “My Apps” which shows you all the apps you ever purchased or downloaded. No need to go on your desktop to see your history anymore.
- The second new option I wanted to show you is that there now an “Automatic update app” option. But don’t worry you can still see in the history of the Store app which app was updated when.
- Photos in the “all” section are now sorted by time period. This allows for easy search your list.
- When you want to edit a photo, the app icon you created the photo is now added. On Windows Phone 8 it was only a text label.
- FM Radio is back but as a stand alone app. Within the standalone (Xbox) Music there is also Xbox Radio which is the XBox Music streaming service.
- Podcast are back as well as a stand alone app. When you subscribe to any it will allow you to download these in advance or just stream them when you want.
- Project my screen allows you to display and control your device with a USB Projection tool (will arrive later). If it is connected to a touch screen you can even control the device with your fingers on the extended screen.
Below is a short video showing off the upcoming application.
Please let me know your thoughts or if you wanna see any specific screenshots?