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Whats new in the Windows Phone 8.1 Update? – Cortana, Live Tiles and Action Centre

Picture this – It’s the year 2552, you’re a 7ft tall half-man-half-robot, who somehow owns a Windows phone. You’re so busy fighting aliens that you have no time to arbitrarily block calls from your mother in law, and your armoured space pocket just won’t stop buzzing. You need help. You need… Cortana.

Bringing it back down to earth, Microsoft’s brand new Windows phone 8.1 update is on the way, and it’s a big one. Microsoft is bringing the operating system in line, if not ahead, of competitors with long awaited and fantastically developed new features. Expect updated Live Tiles, a better control system for w-fi, a pull down Action Centre for notifications, an updated calendar, a more functional keyboard and better encryption for e-mails for all the paranoid parrots out there.

Oh and there’s Cortana, the digital assistant that’s already sent Siri home crying to Apple, and assimilated and surpassed Google Now, and that’s just from the previews. Take a look below at a breakdown of the features found in the new update.

  • Live Tiles – now more live than ever, now show specific info from the relevant app, plus notifications can be dismissed by swiping across them. Notifications are now cross-device, dismiss them on your phone and they’ll be gone on your PC too.
  • Wi-Fi Sense – The new system automatically connects, remembers and accepts terms of use to wi-fi networks when they come into range, without the user ever having to open a window.
  • Action Centre – Finally, a pull down menu at the top of the screen. Action Centre lets you manage and customise notifications, turn wi-fi on and off, review incoming messages, and generally mess with the way you receive notifications.
  • Calendar Update – Now includes Google Calendar with native supports, so you can compile everything in one place. Also will now notify you of weather forecasts for appointments or events, and now has a week viewer to boot.
  • Wordflow Keyboard – just like Swype, the user can now slide their finger around the keyboard to type at never before seen speeds. It also detects and creates emoticons intelligently.
  • E-mail Features
  • Cortana – She cooks she cleans, she dusts… only joking, Cortana is smart but not that smart. Microsoft’s new digital assistant is a dead ringer for the naked blue hologram lady you all remember from the original Halo trilogy (Halo 4 wtf is that?). She’s even voiced by original actress Jen Taylor, and can organise your life in a few easy steps. For example, she can detect who you family members are based on how you interact, so if, like above, you’re too busy to talk to your mother in law at certain times, you can just ask her to filter out certain family members in your Quiet Hours, designated times you can’t be reached at. Sneaky. Cortana can also access all the data on your phone, such as location data, contacts, SMS and apps, to personalise your experience, making queries such as ‘Remind me to buy start dinner when I get home’ or ‘skype my girlfriend’ or even ‘Google sexy massage techniques’ possible (in no particular order).


All these and more will arrive in the coming months for Windows Phone 8.0 devices, such as Nokia Lumia, Samsung ATIV, Huawei Ascend, and HTC 8 series.

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