New Features of Windows Phone 8.1

2nd April 2014, during the //BUILD 2014 conference Microsoft officially showcased the set of new features that will be coming as part of Windows Phone 8.1. In this article, I am touching on those features.

1) Cortana: new personal assistant

Cortana is a voice-based virtual assistant provided by Microsoft. It is similar to Apple's "Siri" and is powered by Bing. It can do everything that one would expect from any virtual assistant. Cortana offers advanced settings and preferences with more than the default voice commands. One can talk with her and can also provide her instructions to perform any operations on behalf of you. Cortana is fully based on your search queries. She learns your interests, she learns about the most important people in your life. For example, you can instruct her “Cortana, call Shweta on Skype” and it will open Skype to call the person. Isn't it interesting ?
You can also use Cortana to set reminders by saying “Cortana, remind me to go to the parlor when I am in MG Road” and she will remind you whenever you are in MG Road.

2) Sensing capability

  • Battery Power Sense: The app will monitor all the apps to dertermine what apps are drawing the most power and will turn them OFF when not in use
  • Data Sense: Detailed tracking of data can be done remotely based on time (a month, a week and so on)
  • Wi-Fi Sense: Wi-Fi can be automatically enabled after a certain duration of time. Another interesting thing is, the Wi-Fi Sense app will automatically connect to a nearby available free Wi-Fi hotspot and will accept the terms of use automatically for us.

3) Action Center for notifications

The Action Center will show notifications related to calls, messages, emails, and so on. It will also provide quick settings to Flight Mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Rotation Lock options. The interesting thing is these quick access options are customizable.

4) Internet Explorer 11

IE11 will be able to save and remember the passwords for websites and will allow uploading of files. The YouTube player includes HTML5 video support and many more…

5) Enhanced Calendar

It will allow you to synchronize a Google calendar in your WP, supports a week view and also supports multiple calendars that will allow you to view all the invites in one place.

6) Enhanced Email feature

In the //BUILD 2014 conference, Nick showcased how emails can be encrypted and signed before sending to anyone. This enhancement also allows user to download images attached or associated with email.

7) VPN Support

WP 8.1 has builti-in VPN support with the ability to auto-trigger VPN connectivity. One of the very useful parts of this enhancement is, it allows password protection of Office documents and also allows access to corporate resources that are behind the firewall. Isn't it cool?

8) Additional features to Camera

Photography is also enhanced by the addition of a few features, like quick access to clicked images and tweaking tools. One good addition is burst mode features for clicking continuous images.

9) More minor changes

  • New lock screen with multiple themes
  • Improvements to music and video apps
  • Backup of app and game data to OneDrive
  • App filtration based on install date and usage
  • Option to update store apps automatically
  • Smart search
  • Silent as well as actionable notification for apps
  • Rebranding of SkyDrive to OneDrive
  • Double tap to Unlock and Power off
  • Separate volume controls for ringtones and music
  • Back button is modified to suspend app, instead of closing the app
  • Support for in-call speech commands
  • Chkdsk for testing SD cards health
  • Miracast support

I hope all of you will enjoy these new features.