Hot on the heels of a leak that offered a peek at the Windows Phone on-screen navigation buttons that device makers are expected to have access to with the arrival of WP8.1 "Blue," some additional details regarding the update have made their way online.
Sources speaking to The Verge today reiterated that the Windows Phone 8.1 "Blue" update will bring with it a notification center, a feature that's frequently cited as one of biggest missing pieces of Microsoft's mobile OS. It's said that the notification center will be accessed with a long swipe down from the top of the display, similar to how it's used on both Android and iOS, while a quick swipe will show a new set of quick settings.
Another big feature that's said to be coming with Windows Phone 8.1 is "Cortana," a Google Now and Siri-like personal assistant that is expected to replace the Bing voice search functionality that's currently included with Windows Phone. Cortana will reportedly feature conversational abilities and will remind the user of upcoming appointments as well as how long it's likely to take for them to arrive there.
Along with those two major additions, Microsoft is rumored to be packing a number of smaller improvements into its WP8.1 Blue update. Those include volume controls that separate out the settings for the ringer and media playback, VPN support, Windows 8.1-like Bing Smart Search results and separate apps for the built-in music hub, Xbox Music and Xbox Video. Finally, it's said that the People Hub in Windows Phone 8.1 will include expanded support for Twitter and Facebook.
While Windows Phone 8.1 is technically only a small x.1 bump up from the platform's current version number, this Blue update sounds like a pretty significant addition to the OS. As I mentioned before, a notification center has long been one of the most highly-requested features of the platform, and so it's good to hear that Microsoft will finally get around to building one in with Windows Phone 8.1. The addition of a notification center may not be enough by itself to convince users of other platforms to make the switch to Windows Phone, but it would most definitely help to make those that do jump ship more comfortable in the land of Live Tiles.
Windows Phone 8.1 is currently said to be undergoing beta testing at Microsoft and is expected to be shown to the public for the first time at its BUILD developer conference in April 2014. While Microsoft is busy prepping the update itself, Nokia is reportedly working on two new handsets that'll take advantage of the update and its features. Those include a handset codenamed "Goldfinger" that's rumored to include a "3D Touch" feature that can detect interactions that don't involve touching the device's glass and a second phone codenamed "Moneypenny" that's expected to take advantage of the on-screen navigation buttons coming with Windows Phone 8.1.
What do you think of the Windows Phone 8.1 update as it's been described today? Will all of the changes get you to consider making the switch to a Windows Phone device?
Via The Verge