While Cortana was certainly one of the biggest highlights from the opening keynote of Microsoft Build Developer Conference last night, there are still plenty of new features from Windows Phone 8.1 that were shown on stage at the event. One of them is the Action Centre which is generally WP8.1’s own pull down notification menu just like those on Android and iOS. Among the main function of Action Center is to display notifications from any apps in user’s device regardless whether they are pinned into the Start Screen or else. Nevertheless, users will actually have the ability to determine the apps that would appear on Action Center. Additionally, the Action Center also provide quick access to their settings such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Airplane Mode, and others. Users will be able to choose which settings to appear on Action Center as well. Apart from that, Windows Phone 8.1 will also feature customizable lock screen themes. For starters, Microsoft have worked together with the famed WP developer, Rudy Hyun (creator of the popular third party Instagram app for WP, 6tag) to come out with several theme for the feature such as the Diagonal and Tokyo themes that Joe demonstrate on stage last night. With that new update, users will also able to define a background image for their Windows Phone 8.1 which essentially becomes yet another personalization option for users.
The update will also bring over the additional third column for Live Tiles on Start Screen from Windows Phone devices with 5-inch and above screens, to all screen sizes. Update will also mark the addition of new Sense apps alongside the existing Data Sense app. One of them is Wi-Fi Sense which enable users to set their devices to connect to quality free public hotspots when their WP8.1 device is within the hotspot’s range. The app also allows users to automatically connect to their contacts’ Wi-Fi networks. There is also the Storage Sense app that enables users to choose either internal storage or microSD card (if their device has such feature) to save their apps, music, and photos. The Battery Saver app for Windows Phone 8.1 will also with a new section that lists down the amount of power that app uses. Windows Phone 8.1 also comes with an updated Calendar that has been redesigned to look more like Microsoft Outlook on PC. It features a new week view together with the ability just swipe right or left in order to move from one day to another. The swipe gesture also works in week and month view. Not enough with that, Skype will also be updated for Windows Phone 8.1 to include integration with phone dialler which will allows quick transition from normal calls to Skype call.
A new, Swype-like keyboard called Word Flow will also be included in Windows Phone 8.1 which is designed to allow users type quickly by gliding their fingers over the keyboard. Word Flow keyboard and App Store, Windows Phone 8.1The new Word Flow keyboard and redesigned Windows Phone App Store on Windows Phone 8.1. Internet Explorer 11 will also made its debut on the platform through Windows Phone 8.1 which feature browser tab button, InPrivate browsing, password caching, and reading mode. Last but not least, the App Store in Windows Phone 8.1 has been also been redesigned with a new interface that will include a new section called For You which highlights apps based on your preferences. Right after its official unveiling at Build, Microsoft has posted a video that showed how majority of the features that we discussed above in action. The video is rather lengthy at 16 minutes (the final 4 to 5 minutes were actually focused on Windows 8.1 update though) but it certainly did provide a good and in-depth look at Windows Phone 8.1. Windows Phone 8.1 will be rolled out to consumers throughout the world in the next few months although developers will be able to access the update within this month. The update will also come pre-installed in new Windows Phone devices such as Nokia’s Lumia 630, Lumia 635, and Lumia 930 that were also announced at Build last night.