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Windows Phone 8.1: Check out the best features

April 04, 2014 12:03 IST

Windows Phone 8.1: Check out the best features

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Tanima Banerjee in New Delhi

Nokia Lumia 630, 635 and 930 to be the first to have the latest Microsoft's OS.

Close on the heels of its announcement that it would offer its operating system (OS) free of cost to smart phones and tablets whose screen size is less than nine inches, Microsoft on Thursday unveiled the much-anticipated updated Windows Phone 8.1 operating system. 

The improved version of the OS aims to make the smartphone experience a more personal one with a bunch of new features that are very much in sync with the Android platform.

The new Windows Phone 8.1 focuses on personalising and customising the phone with features that would be controlled by the user. 

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Photographs: Courtesy, Microsoft

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The Start screen layout would now allow more elements to be added with a third columns of medium tiles irrespective of screen size.

It can be given the user’s personal touch by allowing him to change the background photo of the screen and backing up the Start screen configuration for new devices.

It ensures that the background photo doesn’t clash with the tiles by making the user interface transparent and allowing it to float over the picture.

The new OS would be packed with an Action Center, similar to the notification window on Android OS, which would provide a centralised way to view all the activities on an apps, view mails, pictures, call logs, etc. 

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Photographs: Courtesy, Microsoft

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It will allow a quick , customisable access to settings that one needs all the time — such as wi-fi, flight mode, bluetooth and rotation lock.

It will also give user a new, colour-code and interactive ‘Calendar’, which would allow improved navigation between days/weeks/months. 

Another new feature that Microsoft has been claiming to be a “world-record holder” is the new Word Flow, which is nothing but a blazing fast, intuitive keypad that is way more personalised than the previous spell correction one.

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Image: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella holds a Nokia Lumia mobile phone featuring Windows 8.1 operating system during his keynote address at the company's "build" conference in San Francisco, California.
Photographs: Reuters
Tags: Microsoft

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Notably, one can type Hindi words as well, and it shows up similar-sounding words in the contact list. This smart keyboard allows one to glide the fingers while typing in high speed, and claims to beat Samsung Galaxy S4’s record by eight seconds.

Although the Android already has the Swype keypad, this would be a first for Windows Phone users when they get their updated version in a couple of weeks. 

The Windows app store has also been restructured with a new layout. It shows only new apps that are not already available on the phone, along with screen shots and other information in a single screen - again an Android-like feature.

There is also a panel called Recommendation, which would display apps that are recommended by contacts.

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Gauging a user’s needs in a smartphone, which is primarily about internet usage and battery life, the new Windows Phone 8.1 will come with a set of settings called ‘sense’, which includes data sense, battery saver, storage sense and wi-fi sense.

These give complete autonomy and control to the user to set data limits for the phone; keep a check on the battery and offer ways to save battery while running one’s favourite apps; smoothen the movement between the phone and SD card to save space; manage running apps and the space they occupy on the device and connect to more wi-fi networks as well as share your own wi-fi with another Windows device without allowing access to one’s credentials like passwords.

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The Windows Phone 8.1 also gives Skype a whole new role. It would come integrated with the Phone dialer, and hence an ordinary phone call can be easily transformed into a Skype video call on a single tap.

The workability of this feature is, however, dependent on one’s network strength and speed. This personal OS would also sync content with other Windows devices in terms of apps such as Internet Explorer 11.

This allows one to browse really fast in a screen optimised for the phone, and also access favourite links and resume browsing at any point. The Explorer will also come with a ‘reading view’, similar to a Kindle reader.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Microsoft
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This feature helps you focus on the article on a web page you want to read, without the distractions of other content surrounding the story. 

However, the voice-activated digital assistant, Cortona, which would be launched in the US market first, would not be available first-hand on the Windows Phone 8.1 version that will be launched in India. However, one can expect Mircrosoft's Siri to make its debut this year. 

The new Windows Phone 8.1 will soon be rolled out in the Nokia Lumia 630, Lumia 635 and Lumia 930, whose launch was also announced on Thursday.

The Lumia 630 will be the first dual-SIM phone in the Lumia series, which would be powered by the revamped new Windows OS.

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Image: oe Belfiore, vice president of the operating system group at Microsoft, holds a pair of mobile phones featuring the new Windows 8.1 operating system.
Photographs: Robert Galbraith/Reuters

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While there was no official word on when exactly the power-packed combination of the phone and the OS would be available, sources said a launch is possible in four to six weeks. 

The smartphone would be laminated with sunlight legibility and it comes with a feature to link and unlink notification tiles for both the SIMs. It would come in various coloured back-covers with a matt-finish look.

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Photographs: Nokia Lumia 630
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Partners with Micromax 

Microsoft has partnered with India's homegrown handset maker Micromax to offer Windows 8.1-powered operating system (OS) smartphones in the country, which is considered one of the leaders in emerging markets for smart devices. 

The deal - that was announced on Wednesday at Microsoft's Build conference in San Francisco - is expected to intensify competition in the smartphone and tablets space. 

Besides, the software giant has also announced that it will offer its Windows OS free to smartphone and tablet makers, a move that will help the firm compete with Google’s Android and Apple's iOS in the fiercely competitive smart devices market. 

Delhi-headquartered Micromax's revenues were Rs 3,168 crore for the financial year 2012-13 and it expects to clock revenues of $1 billion for the last fiscal ended March 2014.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Micromax

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What’s new in the windows phone 8.1? 

* The Windows app store has been revamped, with a new interface and apps compatible across various platforms 

* A notification menu, called ActionCenter, with one-touch shortcuts for settings like Wi-Fi, Flight Mode, Bluetooth and Rotation Lock 

* World’s fastest keypad called WordFlow which allows input of words by simply swiping on the letters 

* Background picture can be set for Windows Phone’s home screen tiles 

* New lock screen themes – one with diagonal pattern and other with circular design to be launched 

* Internet Explorer 11 on the OS is optimised for reading on the web and can keep track of tabs open on users’ desktops 

* New and interactive ‘Calendar’, which would allow improved navigation between days/weeks/months. 

* Optimises smartphone experience with ‘sense’ features called data sense, battery saver, storage sense and wi-fi sense 

* Skype will be integrated into the Phone Dialler app Microsoft unveils Windows Phone 8.1 and 8.1 updates


Photographs: Nokia Lumia 630

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