Microsoft’s New Windows Phone Update

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Now let’s dive a little deeper into this new Windows Phone 8.1 and see what the fuss is all about. But before we proceed, it’s important to note that we just have a developer preview version of Windows Phone 8.1, meaning that a lot of things could change before the final software version reaches the masses.

Cortana

With Cortana, you should be able to do all kinds of things without having to press more than a single button. First, like a good personal assistant should, Cortana learns important tidbits about you and who you are and things you’re into. Keeping track of your habits, interests and daily activities better helps Cortana guide you through things and make suggestions. It probably also helps Microsoft gather way more data about you, even though the company promises the info won’t be used to advertise to you. You’ll get suggestions and reminders when you set them, or when you’re interested in taking a look, and you can also schedule things in your calendar and send messages, too. Cortana also works with speech to text, so you can just talk instead of typing when you need to. No virtual assistant is perfect, and Cortana isn’t immune to the same faults as Siri or Google Now.

Battery Saver

Microsoft did throw in some new battery saving features in Windows Phone 8.1. And although many Windows Phone handsets have big batteries and great battery life, extra juice is always welcome. You’ll now get a live tile that shows your battery level and info with a quick glance. Moreover, apps are monitored and managed, so you’ll know which ones are sucking a lot of power and how you can change their behaviors to save more battery life. When you have Battery Saver turned on, push notifications and other things that might drain your battery are turned off, and you’ll have to check them all manually. It’s slightly inconvenient, but when you’re running low on power, a lot of those apps and features probably aren’t that critical.

Wi-Fi Sense

When you’re at an airport or cafe and there is free Wi-Fi available, Wi-Fi Sense handles connecting to the network for you. It’ll know when you’re near a free and open Wi-Fi network, and you don’t even have to bother with accepting the terms and conditions and all that jazz just to get connected. Once you’re within range of a free Wi-Fi network, Windows Phone 8.1 takes care of the rest. You can also share Wi-Fi credentials automatically with the contacts that you want to share with. Wi-Fi Sense is probably not such a huge “wow” feature, but you’ll find it largely convenient once you find yourself connected to free and open Wi-Fi networks when you’re out and about.