Windows Phone get spruced up, playing catch up with Androids and iPhoneAnnounced at Microsoft Build developers conference taking place in the US, Windows Phone 8.1 update and tweaks to Windows 8.1 for tablets, PC’s was unveiled.
Including a new Siri – like rival, Cortana, inspired by the popular artificial intelligent (AI) character from Halo, is WP new personal assistant/best friend.
“We’ve added a BUNCH of new features that make your smartphone even more a reflection of your personality and desires” writes Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore on a blog, after taking the Build Stage.
Windows Phone new BF, Cortana, is billed as the world’s first truly personal digital assistant, activated by a Live Tile or by pressing the search button. You can either speak or type to communicate with Cortana – and she’ll carry on a natural spoken conversation.
Powered by Bing, Cortana gets to know you, and asks questions to get to know you better – and sounds very like Apple Siri or Google Now.
She monitors stuff you care about, and your interests which Cortana has jotted down in her Notebook, will light up on Bing.com like weather, news, and flights.
“Once she’s learned a bit about you, Cortana’s home populates with information that is curated just for you. You’ll see things like flight information she’s found from your email confirmations, weather, the latest news, and even traffic information once she learns your commute routine, such as from work and home,” writes Belfiore.
Windows answer to Siri will launch shortly in the U.S. as a “beta,” and then hit the U.K and China in the second half of 2014. Bad news for Aussie WP users is Windows BBF wont to be here until 2015.
8.1 will start rolling out to existing Windows Phone 8 users and will come pre-installed on new devices, including the new Nokia Lumia 630 and 635 and Lumia 930 announced today.
Microsoft have also played around with the home screen tiles which are more customizable, with a new third column to add more content on larger 5″ screens; customize Start background with a picture or other options; and there’s also new “Lock Screen Themes.”
Photos are automatically organized in groups by date and location, and 8.1 has added “burst mode” photos as found on HTC One devices.
The WP keyboard has been made smarter, learns your writing style and knows your contact names, and lets you glide your fingers over the keys to type super quickly, as featured on Android devices.
WP 8.1 now has Data Sense, that “more aggressively offload data to Wi-Fi and limit cellular usage” and in 8.1 there’s a new “high savings” mode that compresses images as you browse the web, to cut down on data usage.
Wi-Fi Sense auto connect you to free public hotspots to save mobile data, enable your friends to auto-connect to your home Wi-Fi, and 8.1 also has Storage Sense and Battery Saver.
Like Samsung devices, Microsoft smartphones now supports Miracast, which mirrors the content on your phone to compatible TVs and PC.