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.
iOS and Android are way out in front of the rest of the chasing pack in the battle of the mobile operating systems, but with Microsoft’s heavy investment in both Nokia and the continued development of its fledgling smartphone and tablet OS, Windows Phone looks the likeliest of the current also-rans to step forth and make an imprint any time soon.
Tellme on Windows Phone 8
According to a report over at The Verge, “sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans” have divulged that Windows Phone 8.1 is in the process of being beta tested internally, and will include not only a notification center and Cortanta voice assistant, but also an easily accessible “quick settings” pane.
Apparently, quick settings will be found by swiping a short way down from the top, while a longer swipe will bring about the full notification suite. This is very much how things work with iOS and Android, and with this tried-and-tested mechanism having drawn few complaints from either side, it’s a wise move on the Redmond company to follow suit.
As for the voice assistant, “Cortana,” we’ve been hearing about it for the best part of a year, and according to The Verge report, it will replace Bing Search and will accommodate both voice and typed search queries, a la Google Now and Siri. The name is borrowed from the Master Chief’s voice assistant in Microsoft’s very own Halo, and it will be interesting to see, with both Google Now and Siri having been around for a while now, whether Cortana can establish it / herself once again, and help WP’s continued growth.
There will be some other implementations aside from the aforementioned, including separate volume controls for ringer sounds and media playback, and I’m sure as we near closer to BUILD 2014, which Microsoft already conceded will commence from April 2nd, we’ll hear of even more new and exciting features to be added to the fray.
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