On Wednesday, Microsoft took the wraps off of Windows Phone 8.1 and announced updates to Windows 8.1 at the Build developer conference in San Francisco.
The company also outlined new opportunities for developers. Finally, Nokia also announced three new Lumia smartphones that will run on Windows Phone 8.1.
Meet Cortana and check out the Windows Phone 8.1 update
Windows Phone Vice President Joe Belfiore kicked off the morning with an introduction of Windows Phone 8.1, and Cortana, the personal digital assistant for Windows Phone.
Cortana is powered by Bing, and gets better over time by asking questions based on your behavior and checking in with you before she assumes you’re interested in something, Belfiore said. “She detects and monitors the stuff you care about, looks out for you throughout the day, and helps filter out the noise so you can focus on what matters to you.”
Cortana will be available soon in the U.S. in beta, then will launch in the U.S., the U.K. and China in the second half of 2014, with other countries to follow in 2015.
Other changes for Windows Phone 8.1 include:
· The addition of an Action Center. While Live Tiles are a great way to “glance and go,” the new Action Center lets you see notifications from any app – pinned or not — and gives you a customizable way to quickly access the settings you care about most, like Wi-Fi, Flight Mode, Bluetooth and Rotation Lock.
· The new Word Flow Keyboard: The keyboard in Windows Phone is smart enough to learn your writing style and even knows the names of people in your contacts for faster typing. Best of all, the new Word Flow Keyboard lets you glide your fingers over the keys to type very quickly.
· Skype integration: The new Skype app for Windows Phone 8.1 brings the best of Skype on a smartphone. It’s integrated with the phone dialer, so if you’re on a call you can quickly and easily “upgrade” your audio phone call to a Skype video call at the tap of a button.
The curtain lifts on the Windows 8.1 Update
The Windows 8.1 Update is free and gives users a more familiar experience when it comes to using a keyboard and mouse, as well as other changes based on customer feedback. If you like using the desktop, select devices will now boot to the desktop as the default setting. On the Start screen, on select devices you’ll now find the Power and Search buttons at the upper-right corner next to your account picture.
On your taskbar, you can now pin both desktop apps and apps from the Windows Store as well as your favorite websites. Pin any app you want to the taskbar – such as Facebook or Flipboard – so you can open or switch between apps right from the desktop.
New developer opportunities and three new Lumia smartphones
Microsoft detailed new developer opportunities on the Windows platform with a common platform across devices, a single toolset, a common infrastructure across the Windows and Windows Phone stores, and a clear commitment to interoperability. The announcements highlight Microsoft’s continued commitment to its partners and the developer community by maximizing opportunities across the broadest range of devices and services.
Also as a part of the conference, Nokia announced three new Lumia smartphones for Windows Phone 8.1, including the flagship Lumia 930, the affordable Lumia 635 and the first dual-SIM Lumia 630.
For the full story on new developer opportunities and the new Lumia smartphones from Nokia, head on over to the Microsoft News Center.
Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, The Official Microsoft Blog