Windows Phone 8.1 for Consumers

At Build 2014, Joe Belfiore and co. announced a number of new features coming in Windows Phone 8.1, for both consumer & business users.

These features include:

Start Screen personalization

The ability to have any picture you like as the background to your Start Screen, with the tiles becoming transparent to show it through.



The Digital Assistant, named after a Halo character, is set to pitch some interesting battles against Apple’s Siri.

Cortana is the only digital assistant that gets to know you, builds a relationship that you can trust, and gets better over time by asking questions based on your behavior and checking in with you before she assumes you’re interested in something.

The US will get it as a beta almost straight away with it then rolling out to the UK & China in the 2nd half of 2014, with other countries to follow in 2015.


Cortana will do things such as:

  • Remind you of upcoming flights
  • Tell you when to leave for the airport – based on live traffic info
  • Block non-essential calls/texts etc. during user set “Quiet Hours”
  • Give reminders based on location
  • Track weather, stocks etc
  • Interact with 3rd party apps – use Cortana to tweet, to watch TV shows on your device, call in Skype and more.

Action Center

Giving a central location to see notifications from ALL apps as well as easy access to settings such as Bluetooth, Wifi etc.

Word Flow Keyboard

Similar to the Swype keyboard, a quicker, more intelligent keyboard for typing in WP8.1. This was used to break the World Record (held by Swype on a Galaxy S4) by 8 seconds!


The calendar in WP up to now has been functional, but not quite there and I’ve heard many complaints about it’s ease of use (or lack thereof). Microsoft have heard that and completely redesigned the calendar experience. It has things such as:

  • Week View
  • Pan right to move to the next day/week/month
  • Integrated weather

and more


Internet Explorer 11 for Windows Phone

Synchronization between devices means you’ll be able to see all your open tabs and favourites across all your devices. It also gives:

  • InPrivate Browsing
  • Password caching
  • Reading Mode

Password caching will be great, I’m so used to that on my Windows 8.1 devices that it’s always a shock when I’m asked for a password on my phone!

Additional Features:

Burst Mode added to standard camera

Data Sense “High Savings” mode which increases compression of web images to reduce data usage.

Wi-Fi Sense connects to free open hotspots automatically to reduce data usage. You can use Cortana to turn this option on only in your favourite areas.

Storage Sense helps manage content such as apps, music & photos on SD cards and also help with transferring such things between the card and the phone.

Battery Saver improvements can now “dramatically extend your battery life”.

Microsoft Account Sync – Apps you purchase on your Windows Phone will also appear on your Windows 8 device (and vice versa – if the app supports both platforms of course). Also sync your theme colour across devices as well as your home Wi-Fi password.

Project your phone – connect it to a PC via USB and you can show the phone on there. SOME new WP8.1 devices will support Miracast for wireless projection to compatible devices.

To see more on these features, head over to:

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