Posts Tagged ‘Windows Phone 8.1’

The leap from Windows Phone 8 to Windows Phone 8.1 doesn’t, on paper, seem like much of a big deal. In fact, such a ‘.1’ update usually suggests a couple of decent new features, a few housekeeping enhancements, and a shiny new version number. But having already seen features like Cortana, the new Action / Notification Center, the Android-esque touch buttons and the Swype-like keyboard, Windows Phone 8.1 is shaping up as a very serious release indeed. Adding to the already exciting list of upcoming additions, a new leak has shown off one rather more simple feature that Windows Phone has been lacking to date – custom wallpapers.

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The Windows Phone 8 update was, despite a lot of coverage, quite underwhelming in terms of features, especially given how long Microsoft had spent applying improvements. However, from what we’ve been seeing through leaks and word-of-mouth, the forthcoming Windows Phone 8.1 update will provide the OS with some much-needed rejuvenation, and as well as a whole new Swype-like keyboard, notification center and other such niceties, the next update looks also set to feature Cortana, Microsoft’s very own Siri / Google Now incarnate. Today, new screenshots have emerged of Cortana in action.

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We’re all firmly in mobile mode with Mobile World Congress kicking off over in Barcelona, but that hasn’t stopped Microsoft from letting everyone know what the current state of play is when it comes to an update to Windows 8.1, and the new Windows Phone 8.1.

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In a concerted effort to turn its mobile fortunes around, Microsoft seems to be taking the logical step of hand-picking some of the best features of both Android and iOS, amounting to an increasingly exciting Windows Phone 8.1 update. We’ve already heard that a new Swype-like keyboard will enhance the typing experience on the Redmond’s mobile ecosystem, and following yesterday’s video demo of the new Action Center notifications system, it has today become apparent that Cortana, the voice assistant feature set to debut with WP 8.1, will combine some of the strengths of both Google Now and Apple’s Siri.

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Windows Phone 8.1 is due to hit the scene very soon, and judging by the recent spate of leaks and information regarding the software update, we have some significant improvements to look forward to. Following on from yesterday’s report that a revamped, Swype-like keyboard would offer dramatic improvements as far as typing is concerned, the new notification center, dubbed ‘Action Center,’ has been given a video demonstration.

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Microsoft is expected to drop the eagerly-awaited Windows Phone 8.1 update in the near future, and with several features already having been revealed, it looks as though the Redmond giant is making great strides to improve the keyboard typing experience. According to a report over at The Verge, which cites “sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans,” the company is in the process of developing a greatly-enhanced keyboard which will offer a broader feature set similar to that of the popular Swype Android touch-type pad.

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It’s a big year for Windows Phone, with the smartphone market hotter than ever before and Nokia reportedly on the verge of making Android a part of its family with the Nokia X Normandy smartphone. Microsoft’s mobile version of Windows has long been rumored to be on the verge of becoming a real competitor for iOS and Android, and 2014 needs to be the year that Redmond puts Windows Phone into overdrive.

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Samsung already took a stab at the Windows Phone 8 market with the ATIV range, and is now back with a bigger, badder model for Windows Phone 8.1. According to a snap posted by the ever-reliable Evleaks Twitter handle, the device is codenamed “Huron” (model SM-W750V), and as well as looking very much similar to the Galaxy S4 (as the ATIV S rather did the Galaxy S3), it will also be carried by Verizon Wireless in the United States.

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When talking about Windows Phone’s shortcomings, most commentators and analysts regularly refer to the obvious lack of popular apps over at the Windows Phone Store – despite the recent introduction of Instagram and Vine to the WP scene. But while getting devs on board remains an issue, the OS itself is still missing some key features. Intuitive it may be; alternative – certainly; but with no real notification center to speak of, it’s still going to take longer to get things done on a Windows Phone. This could, however, be about to change with Windows Phone 8.1, for as well as a completely new system through which a user can digest notifications, there will also be a Siri-like voice assistant feature.

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There’s already little doubt that Microsoft will be changing things up with Windows Phone 8.1, the next update to the company’s somewhat undervalued and under-adopted mobile operating system. With the war against Apple and Google being lost, Microsoft knows it needs to make changes.

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Voice assistants such as Siri have certainly risen to prominence over the past couple of years, and many companies beside Apple have tried to implement similar technology into their products. Microsoft, fresh from its purchase of Nokia’s devices and services division, is reportedly plotting to do exactly that in constructing a voice assistant for Windows Phone currently codenamed ‘Cortana.’

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Windows Phone is still not quite gaining the traction it needs to worry the likes of Apple and Google, but few can argue that Microsoft hasn’t made some important improvements to the platform since its introduction. Things like copy and paste are now part of Windows Phone, when they were once just a pipe dream. With Microsoft already working to bring a new version of Windows to the desktop, the speculation is now all about where the Redmond firm will take Windows Phone when it receives its next update.

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