Windows Phone 8.1: Release Date and Features; Update 2 Will Likely be Sometime in November
Windows Phone 8.1 release date for general availability was on July 15, 2014, and it has two planned OS updates within the year. Update 1 went live on August 4, 2014 for users participating in the Windows Phone Developer Preview program. The general roll-out of Update 1 to phones running on Microsoft's mobile OS should begin by September according to WP Central.Update 2 will likely be sometime in November or December. All Windows Phones that are running on Windows Phone 8 will be upgraded to Windows Phone 8.1 within the next few months.
Windows Phone 8.1 features notably include a built-in personal virtual assistant, called Cortana, which is similar to the Android's Google Now and Apple's Siri. Among other things, Cortana can set reminders, recognize natural voice without having to input a predefined series of commands, and give answers to questions involving current weather and traffic conditions, sports scores, and biographies using information from Microsoft's own search engine Bing. It also has a "Notebook" feature, where it can automatically gather information about the user based on usage as well as allow the user to input additional personal information.
Other Windows Phone 8.1 features include a mobile version of the Internet Explorer 11 web browser and such new built-in apps as a Battery Saver which can track battery usage and determine profiles that will lower power consumption, a Storage Sense which can allow users to move files and apps between their phone's hard drive and a microSD card, a Wi-Fi Sense which can automatically sign in to trusted available Wi-Fi hotspots, a Calendar with a week view with current weather which can be synced with Google Calendars, an overhauled Maps with support for aerial-view, 3D mapping and a dynamic compass, an improved Dialer, Xbox Music and Xbox Video, an updated Camera, Live Tiles which can allow users to drag app tiles on top of each other to create folders of apps on the Start Screen, a Lockscreen, a Word Flow keyboard, among many more. Weather, News, Sports, Health & Fitness, Food & Drink, and other popular MSN apps also come pre-installed.
Windows Phone 8.1 is now used as the mobile OS in devices manufactured by Nokia, Gionee, HTC, Huawei, JSR, Karbonn, LG, Lenovo, Longcheer, Micromax, Samsung, Lava, and ZTE. Phones which are currently running on Windows Phone 8.0 can be upgraded to Windows Phone 8.1 by downloading the software from the Windows Phone website.
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