Windows Phone 8.1: A peek at new features & functionality

Windows Phone 8.1: A peek at new features & functionality

14:56 10 July in WP8

Recent leaks from Microsoft have provided more information on the upcoming Windows Phone 8.1 update. Users will now be able to create folders containing several apps that can be placed on the start screen.


The new folder functionality brings Windows Phone in line with iOS and Android, which have offered the feature for some time. Users can drag one app on top of another to create a new folder, which can be given a name and then moved around at will. The information was posted on a how-to page for Windows Phone. The page has since been taken down, but a cached version is still available, which mentions Windows Phone 8.1.


“To create folders on your Start screen, you need to have Windows Phone 8.1 Update installed on your phone,” the page says.


Although Microsoft has perviously focused on the unique features of the Windows Phone operating system, the company seems to be adding a number of features already found on iOS and Android devices to Windows Phone 8.1.


Windows Phone’s “action center” is largely similar to the drop-down notification menu on Android devices, providing messages from apps and access to certain settings no matter what page or app is open on the phone. Windows Phone 8.1 is also adding a voice assistant called Cortana. As a named voice assistant it seems like an intentional counter to Siri on iOS, and indeed it may be. However in function the app as a whole works more like Google Now. The voice assistant is only one part of the app, which also provides contextual suggestions based on location, time and personal data. With these automated and customized notifications as well as an easy-to-use voice assistant, Microsoft is looking to capitalize on the best features of both Siri and Google Now.


Microsoft is also rumored to be including support for 3D gesture controls in the Windows Phone update. Two phones, codenamed “Goldfinger” and “McLaren,” will be able to use sensors to track movement in front of the screen, allowing users to scroll or change pages without touching the glass. The phones may launch before the end of 2014.


Microsoft also leaked the approximate release date of the Windows Phone 8.1 update. The Microsoft India Twitter account responded to a customer asking when the update would be released. The reply doesn’t specify a date, but does indicate that 8.1 will be released very soon.


“The Windows Phone 8.1 update will roll out to existing Windows Phone 8 users during the first two weeks of July,” the tweet says.


Although Microsoft has officially announced features like Cortana and the action center, these recent leaks indicate that Windows Phone 8.1 may have even more new things in store. With the update due to roll out in the coming weeks, users should be able to discover all the new features for themselves soon.