Windows Phone 8.1 to Receive Major Facelift Including Notification Center, “Cortana” Voice Assistant, Virtual Buttons
Just one week ago, we talked about how Microsoft was contemplating axing licensing fees on its Windows Phone and Windows RT OSes in order to help spur adoption and exposure to Microsoft services and advertising. As it turns out, that’s not the only big shakeup Microsoft has in mind with regards to its mobile OSes. While no details have yet been officially released, sources have revealed to The Verge that the next version of the OS will pack some major (and much needed) additions.
The most long overdue feature addition that is likely to appear in Windows Phone 8.1″Blue” is a notification center. Unlike Android and iOS, Windows Phone currently has no centralized place for notifications to be read, acted on, and dismissed. But in internal Windows Phone 8.1 betas, a new notification system is present. This notification system is two part: a short swipe from the top exposes quick device settings, whereas a longer swipe from the top displays your full notification history.
In addition to the notification center, WP8.1 is also rumored to feature the “Cortana” digital assistant. Allegedly, this has already been in testing for months, and it is set to replace the current system-wide Bing search. It will also likely feature location-aware automatic reminder capabilities such as what’s already present in Google Now.
Finally a few other small tweaks are set to appear in WP 8.1 such as on-screen navigation buttons (seen in the mockup image courtesy of Evleaks and TheVerge), smart search results similar to what is already present in Windows 8.1, VPN support, independent volume controls for media playback and ringtone volume, and the separation of Xbox Music and Xbox Video. The company is also reportedly planning on allowing social media apps to interface with its People hub to an even greater degree.
Microsoft certainly has some rather large tweaks in store for Windows Phone. Regardless of what happens with the licensing fees, Windows Phone looks like it is about to catch its second wind. Do all these new tweaks make the prospect of owning a Windows Phone more appealing to you? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!