Windows Phone 8.1
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8.1 things I like about Windows Phone 8.1 after two months

It's kind of hard to believe that I've been using Windows Phone 8.1 for over two months now. Like many of you, I downloaded and installed (and upgraded) to Windows Phone 8.1 on April 14. That was the day the Preview for Developers version was released to Windows Phone developers and enthusiasts. I've been using Windows Phone 8.1 as my daily driver on my Lumia 925 and Lumia 1520 since then.

How's the OS holding up? What are my favorite features all these days later? Read on to find out the 8.1 things I like about Windows Phone 8.1 for over two months.

1. Cortana

Cortana

Cortana is by far one of the biggest features of Windows Phone 8.1. Especially when it comes to headline grabbing features. Am I still using her the same way I was when I first loaded up Windows Phone 8.1? Yes and no.

I don't use Cortana as much as I'd like for queries and questions. Occasionally I'll humor myself and ask her if I need an umbrella this week. Which is silly since I live in southern California and rain is this concept that takes place in lands far away. I still haven't broken the habit of just opening the weather app, but I'm slowly getting better at remembering I can just ask Cortana.

However, I do love, love, love using Cortana for reminders. People based reminders are nice, but it's the location-based reminders I use the snot out of. I have location-based reminders set for so many different locations and scenarios. Out of laundry detergent? No problem, just have Cortana remind me to pick some up the next time I'm near Target. Saw a cool restaurant in Laguna Beach over the weekend? Cortana will remind me to eat there the next time I'm in town.

So yes, I still love and use Cortana on Windows Phone 8.1.

2. Notification Center

Notification Center

This list of things I like in Windows Phone 8.1 isn't any particular order, but if I did order it to reflect importance you'd see the Notification Center as numero uno. It has changed how I use Windows Phone. I still admire the concept of Live tiles and glanceable information, but you just can't match the perks of a single place for your all notifications.

It's weird going back to a device with Windows Phone 8.0 and hearing a notification, then not being able to find it if you don't get to your phone in time. That all changed with the Notification Center in Windows Phone 8.1.

No more stress or anxiety because I now know every notification or alert will be caught by the Notification Center. It's awesome and probably my single favorite feature in Windows Phone 8.1.

3. Quiet Hours

Quiet Hours Windows Phone

Windows Phone 8.1 introduced a 'do not disturb' mode called Quiet Hours. It is wonderful for helping you relax in the evening and sleep at night. It's another favorite feature in Windows Phone 8.1 that I couldn't do without.

I've set up my Quiet Hours to automatically trigger and turn on every night at 10:30 pm and turn off the next morning at 6 am. During those hours at night, nobody can reach me and any notifications from Twitter or email won't show up. Unless I've placed you inside my Inner Circle.

Inner Circle is just one of the many aspects of Quiet Hours you have control over. You can configure Quiet Hours so that those important to you, like your spouse or children, can always reach you. Or maybe your boss can reach you if he calls three times within the span of a few minutes, because that's probably an emergency at that point.

4. Word Flow keyboard and Shape writing

Word Flow keyboard

The new and improved keyboard is so good Microsoft gave it a name – Word Flow. The new Word Flow keyboard is notable for a number of improvements that I dozens of times throughout a given day.

Shape writing is the biggest addition to the new keyboard that I can't live without. This is the new 'typing' mode where you glide your finger from letter-to-letter to spell out words.

Other things I'm really digging in the new Word Flow keyboard include the additional support for more Emoji, a bigger word library out of the box, the names of your contacts added to your dictionary and the ability to add swear words to your dictionary (or any word you want really).

5. More tiles on my Start screen

3D Touch

Windows Phones with large screens, like the Lumia 1520, come with an additional column for medium-sized Live tiles on your Start screen. However, handsets with smaller screens, like the Lumia 920, have traditionally had just two columns for medium-sized tiles. Windows Phone 8.1 changed that by giving users the option to show more tiles.

Every single Windows Phone 8.1 device I have has been enabled to show more tiles and I wouldn't have it any other way. It doesn't feel cramped at all to me, and I like the ability to not scroll as far to see more Live tiles and their respective content.

Thanks Microsoft for giving me the option to have a ton of Live tiles on my Start screen!

6. Transparent tiles

WPCentral App

Speaking of the Start screen, I can't get enough of those transparent tiles. And neither can the lot of you.

The struggle is real to find the perfect Start background to complement those see-though tiles. But that's a good thing because it means we have transparent tiles. It's probably a superficial feature in Windows Phone 8.1, you just can't deny how awesome it is with the parallax scroll effect. It's also just one more way you can make your Windows Phone truly yours.

7. Unlimited tabs in Internet Explorer 11

Windows Phone 8.1 IE 11

For someone who writes about apps for a living, I actually spend a lot of time using the browser on Windows Phone. I always have and don't expect that too change too much. For reading long content I still prefer to send things to Pouch and use an app like Poki to consume it all.

The browser is where you end up when you click an interesting looking link inside a tweet. Which is why I'm a big fan of the unlimited tabs you get with Internet Explorer 11 on Windows Phone 8.1.

8. Calendar redesign

Windows Phone 8.1 calendar

To be honest I didn't use the native calendar in Windows Phone 8 and below. Instead third-party calendars, like Simple Calendar or Cal, added a bit more functionality that made me prefer them.

The redesigned Calendar app in Windows Phone 8.1 is getting a lot more love from me and it's used all the time now. I'm partial to the new week view and the integrated weather forecast. The week view alone makes me love the new calendar. Oh and the calendar can now be update through the Windows Phone Store and won't require an OS update like before. Which means we'll hopefully see even more improvements going forward.

  • Related: (http://www.wpcentral.com/video-tour-new-windows-phone-81-native-calendar)

8.1 Check for updates in the Windows Phone Store

Windows Phone 8.1 Store

C'mon. How many times did you get frustrated pre-Windows Phone 8.1 waiting for updates to appear for your apps in the Windows Phone Store? The new Store on Windows Phone 8.1 allows you to go in to the settings and manually check for updates for all your installed apps. This is super useful and I use it a few times a day.

Your turn

You too have probably been using Windows Phone 8.1 for over two months now! Congrats and do let us know in the comments below your favorite features!

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Comments

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rock9567 says:

i hate Xbox Music, Xbox Video and Game hub

 

Yousef Kawmi says:

"your favorite features!"
not your favorite apps

HaibaneReki says:

Lol =D Calendar, Cortana and IE are technically apps too

But Sam pointed out new features within those apps. And Cortana is really an exception since it integerates into WP.

There's one in every crowd. lol

ThePrayer says:

Any idea when it will be rolled out officially? 
Waiting and waiting here in Germany...

Good question, I thought it would be today...

ngotuuduc says:

I think we have to wait forever :D.

Less than a week left

stinkfish says:

Yip until they fix that I'm not giving a shit about the rest of it

U should have said. I like how I hate Xbox Music, Xbox Video and game hub. This counts for me to BTW :P but I really like Cortana! I Use it every day. And i would like to see Vertical tiles :)

dalydose says:

Some people can't follow simple requests. No one cares what you hate. Try something new that doesn't involve complaining and say what you like...it won't kill you.

SinisterDuck says:

Some people can only be negative.

OldAndBusted says:

Some people want to hear both the positive and negative.

F3rzz says:

Best. first. comment. In. Lyke. ever. OMG. It's. Lyke. Lindsay. Lohan. Lyke. Okay. Lyke.

AnubhavSingh says:

Hey guys what's the matter if he is complaining? Let him express his feelings. If we won't complain, how would they listen to us. (remember brothers at MSFT too read these articles?)

ricsip says:

Wrong, they dont read every single stupid article on wpcentral, neowin, wmpoweruser etc. How do you think that would be possible? The only single way MS is aware, if people keep bashing the uservoice forum, that seems to be the only place where MS guys SOMETIMES have a look at. Nowhere else, I bet on that.

KMF79 says:

This has a lot to do with why I haven't installed the dev preview yet. Oh and I don't want to enjoy Data Sense just to have it taken away by (shitty) AT&T even though my phone is unlocked and on another network.

PoohGQ says:

I personally believe that some of these apps need to be consolidated. Xbox Music app is now just 2 levels deep & lacks any type of sophistication. On the other hand, Xbox needs to have all their services under a tiered membership rather than Subscritions for Music, Games and then I still have to pay for MS Office separately.

I really love WP8.1. All the new features & apps are reeally necessary. Sometimes I wonder how I survived without them.

DecadeMoon says:

I always wondered, what'll happen when WP8.1 officially rolls out with a broken xbox music app (I assume will be the case, since the app hasn't been fixed really during the beta)? Does MS realise this is what'll end up happening?

NOLATechy says:

I think you answered your own question.  Re-read your question back S-L-O-W-L-Y....   "with...a...broken...xbox...music..."app".   It's an APP, not part of the OS.  It can be updated from the app store and I'm sure once they get done with all the OS fixes that need to be made, they will start working on the Xbox stuff.

ricsip says:

There will NEVER be such state as the OS is "complete" or "bug-free". Its a never-ending spinning cycle of software-industry nightmare:

new features --> new bugs --> some bugs fixed --> in parallel another set of new features implemented -->another set of new bugs --> some bugs not fixed for some devices --> vendor drops further software support for device --> you have to buy new device that is still maintained by the vendor --> new device is built from a new revision of sillicon --> new bugs on the new hardware -->and keep repeting this until the universe ends..

By the way that keeps the industry from collapsing. As long as people freely and happily spend money on buying things every 2 year, the system can still be kept at the edge of collapsing.

So back to your wish about working on the xbox stuff after the OS is ready: I am more than sure the Xbox-stuff-team is completely separate from the WP8.1 OS developer team, so they work in parallel. So its not a valid excuse to the Xbox stuff team that they fail miserably to deliver a damn working MP3 and AVI playback software.

DecadeMoon says:

But not everyone realises that! They expect an official working music app. And once the 8.1 update comes along, their built in music app will be replaced with this broken app. That's the issue that I have -- it will go from working to broken.

Kevin Rush says:

Ref: DecadeMoon,
I agree.
I hate that we have lost so many Music features from ZUNE to WP7, to WP8 and now the lowest point, WP8.1. Please go to uservoice and vote and comment.

Yousef Kawmi says:

Games and apps on micro SD 
and by the way how many tabs was IE limited to ?

icyrock1 says:

Was the single most annoying thing about Windows Phone 8. Glad they fixed it in 8.1

GSOgymrat says:

This was a big deal that doesn't get much press.

apps and games in microSD is the best change we get with WinPho8.1, cause now I, literally, install whatever sh*t I see in the store :D

Lol. Me too...will get a larger microSD card

NinjaX says:

I hate I have to soft reset my 920 every morning, because as soon as I open any app it freezes, not sure if it has to do with quiet hours or not.

ddartman7 says:

Bet you have "Clock Hub" installed right?  I was having the same issue. The moment I uninstalled Clock Hub the soft resets every morning went bye bye.

kleider1 says:

Is clock hub really the problem? I really like that so, but if it is the cause, I might have to uninstall it.

ddartman7 says:

I believe it has something to do with the frequency with which it updates. All I can say of any certaintly is the moment I uninstalled Clock Hub, the problem went away.

NOLATechy says:

Highly recommend "Tile-Clock" for an live tile clock.  This program works great and doesn't drain your battery.  It takes a few minutes to set it up but you only have to set it up once.  Once it is done, the time is updated every 30 secs so the time is always correct.  The only problem is the live tile MUST be set to "wide" or the clock won't show up.  Other than that, this is a really great app.   If anyone knows of a better app, let me know.

dysje says:

I have had similar issues with it. There is however another clock app called startscreenclock or something like that, I am using that one now and it is infinitely better.

Back on topic: I still don't like the notification center. I loved having the live tiles and if I didn't care about notifs I just didn't pin a tile. Now when I respond to a notification on a tile, it often lingers in the notification center still. I was quite happy to get rid of a bad UI tech like a notification center, only to get it back in 8.1 cause people are too slow to learn a more efficient way and apps sucked at making good use of it.

STXVI says:

I'm with you. I came from Symbian to WP so I wasn't familiar with a notification center, but over the past year + I've used an iPhone and a couple of Galaxies and now I know why people wanted it. But for the WP only users there isn't a need for it. I found that iPhone and Android train you to use the notification center mainly because there is another efficient way to broadcast it on those os so you spend a lot of time in the notification center. But with live tiles there really isn't a reason...unless you are used to having a notification center.

I gave my 8.1 to a friend whose iPhone broke because I don't like the destruction of the hubs. In fact I'm thinking of just keeping my 920 on 8 just to keep the hubs...we'll see.

FeedTheShark says:

I didn't think I'd use it, but I've found it immensely useful. I have 4 different email accounts and being able to see a snippet of new emails in the notification centre means I can at a glance see if any emails are urgent and require my attention. If not I can just swipe them all away. Before I'd have to (potentially) open 4 different tiles to check my emails. Tiles only displayed the most recent email so as soon as I had more than one it was no longer so 'glanceable'. The notifcation centre really makes a massive difference and makes it much quicker and easier to use my phone, I'd never go back to 8.0.

mikosoft says:

New notification center has API that allows notifications to be pulled away when you launch an app and vice versa. Nice example is the default Phone app - if you have a missed call notification on the tile and in the center, whichever you tap the other goes away. It's just that the 8.1 APIs are not widely adopted by devs so some apps don't correctly pull their notifications.

the user says:

You do know that in the action center settings you can individually disable any app from showing in the notification center?

Martin_H says:

Can't you just ignore the notification center?

NinjaX says:

Yeah I do actually have clock hub installed, I'll unpin it tonight and see what happens, thanks for the tip!

ddartman7 says:

I'm not sure un-pinning will be sufficient. You might also have to disable it from running as a background task.

mymarcio says:

I noticed that the GLANCE screen was making my phone freeze. :(

Glance Screen settings:

- Peek (Every few hours)

- Interval (didn't try it)

- Always On (every couple of days)

- Off (it hasn't frozen since last Thursday.)

ddartman7 says:

I had the same problem with glance IF "touch" sensitivity settings are set to HIGH.  Dialed touch sensitivity back to "Normal" and all good on the glance front using "peek"

mymarcio says:

It seems I jinxed myself. The phone froze today.

The pattern that i started noticing is that it's always freezes on Wednesday morning between 9 and 10AM EST time. I didn't have this issue or any at all until I installed the Developer preview.

gonza1520 says:

Same thing happens to me on my 1520. Every morning I check notifications than it freezes up. Very frustrating.

ddartman7 says:

Try uninstalling Clock Hub. Remvoing the app resolved the issue for me.

Mogwaye says:

Same here . Clock hub is full of bugs since the beginning

TiLoBrown says:

That's odd, I've never had that problem

kingkoopa09 says:

Now that u mention it my soft resets went away when I switched to time me

cruelvaldez says:

I removed the transparent tile and now its fine in the morning. And I still have ClockHub pinned to start. Weird.

Uninstalling Clock Hub was the fix for me as well.

Thanks for the info was wondering what was causing the freezing.

gerrymad says:

I thought it was just me. I am using an older phone with most of the memory used up (HTC 8X) and figured that was the issue. I had clock hub installed. I've now uninstalled it. Hopefully tomorrow morning will be better.

rodneyej says:

My 1520 still does it too... Maybe ita a firmware thing.. IDK, but it sucks, and I hope it gets fixed.

Buxy1 says:

My 1020 does the same thing, it freezes in the middle of the night though which means my alarm for work doesn't go off!!

DecadeMoon says:

That's weird. My 920 has had no (or very little) problems with the 8.1 preview.

rcasey says:

Great list Sam!

theroyboy44 says:

I'd like to see an "8.1 Things To Improve" also

realemotionx says:

Yes. This is a good idea.

Sam Sabri says:

Good idea amigo theroyboy44. List a few things you'd like to see improved:

Can I?
1. Email Client
Change colors of font
Change font and BOLD, ITALIC, etc

File Picker for send files like .PDF in a talk   

2. Better PHOTOS

Create albuns copy and paste photos

3. BETTER MUSIC, VIDEO AND GAMES APP

I think that I haven't say anything about this, right?

4. Copy texts and paste text after I lock the phone.

Yeah, if you copy a text and lock the phone, you will lost what you have copyed.

5. More natives apps, like stop watch, voice recorder, etc

6. Lock the phone and made a picture a passward like Windows.

7. List of apps like Windows 8.1, Category, etc

8. Oh, Man... The Settings is horrible! Would be good if is like Windows 8.1....

8.1. Data Toggle

8.2 Cover of Album at in the bar on top when press to change the music, volume, you know.

                                                                                                                                        

 

Yousef Kawmi says:

Yeah, that and plus the ability to copy one word from the message, it copies the whole message instead

But you can copy just one word... o.O

Yousef Kawmi says:

How? I can't :/

Even a letter. 
Simply select and... copy.

paras chugh says:

3rd party message app integration

kids corner password removes

better windows synchronisation like wifi sync

better integration for apps like truecaller to be seen in an incoming call

more official apps like snapchat and more app updates

more background actions like downloading in IE in background

better native apps for images music and games

action notifications

running lines in toast messages to read full content

 

Bagzton says:

Data toggle in action centre.

Bring back background pics in Photo Hub like it was in WP8

Bring back album/artist cover in lock screen when playing music

StefEBear says:

I've noticed Artist information is back with Xbox Music on the lock screen (yay)
 

rodneyej says:

Yeah.. Looks like you have to toggle it off, then back on again, for it to work..

rodneyej says:

This⬇⬇⬇⬇⬇⬇⬇⬇
http://tinypic.com/m/i5w6xh/1
...........................
It's pretty pathetic that WP leves a blank space on the start screen when no tile is present, or when a tile is deleted.. iOS, and Android, don't leave ugly gaping voids on their start screens, and neither should WP...
... The solution❔ .. Just give us the option of having the OS automatically fill in any gaps with a static blank tile, or maybe even have Cortana choose some information to display instead of leaving spaces blank... This is a no brainer feature, and like I said it could be optional.. Call it "auto fill" in settings, or something..
..........
Seriously, I think this is needed more than ever now that we have transparent tiles..

STXVI says:

Dude, just use header tiles or note plus and put what you want there. I like the blank spaces to create a natural division. There is already a way for you and I to get what we both want without loading the OS.

rodneyej says:

Wow.. You're amazing.. Really?
........
Having to use separate apps for everything is unintuitive, and goes against WP's way of doing things... WP is nowhere near "loaded" and it couldn't hurt to have more options... If you wouldn't like it I would suggest that you don't enable it... That's the real win/win situation for everyone..

alllies says:

Yeah!..how can I create a letter F or R out of my Pinned apps if OS auto align them or autofills the gap?

rodneyej says:

You guys will never understand the word ❕❕ OPTION❕❕
..................
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/option

DecadeMoon says:

..really? I prefer the way it works now. It's simple, clean and the tile reorganisation is predictable most of the time. I don't want some random "blank tile" filling the gaps. If you have a gap then fill it with a tile of your own choice, don't rely on the OS guessing what info might be relevant to put there.

The only issue I have with gaps is that sometimes WP won't push the tiles up to fill a gap automatically, and so I have to move each tile up one at a time which can be annoying, but then again I don't make changes to my start screen every day so it's not really a big issue.

rodneyej says:

You wouldn't like it, but I would.. That's why I always suggest that changes be made OPTIONAL so that everyone is happy...
................
Key word here being OPTION......
................
Here on WPC there's always a few dudes that have to say that that wouldn't like to use somthing.... And, the answer they always get is "then don't use it".... I would never suggests a change like this without asking for it to be an option... And, WP could benefit from more options... I think I said it enough....

Remove password requirement for kids corner... Or a different password for it.

theroyboy44 says:

Sorry it's taken so long to reply to this (wanted to make sure I covered all my bases) I think I'll just email it to you because it is very long. And I'm on my phones WP apl

theroyboy44 says:

1. Headphones - One of the most annoying things is how sound will eventually stop working in one earphone. I'm not sure exactly what causes this but all of the options through the forums don't help, only state the same problems. Then the only way to get it to start working again is to soft reset your phone! Seriously, one of the top three annoyances!! Not sure if this is a windows phone problem or Links 925 problem.

2. Battery Life - Battery on my Lumia 925 dies at an alarming rate! Especially since the 8.1 update! If I'm using the phone lightly it goes from 100% to 30% in 5-6 hours. But can easily go from 100%-30% in 2.5 hours. That is downright ridiculous!

3. Messaging Multitasking Windows - This ranks pretty high in annoying Windows Phone hiccups. When you get a toast message or click on a link from the notification center it always opens up a new window for text messages. This is inherently not bad , actually it's quite a nifty feature because multiple conversation are kept open so closing finished combos doesn't force you to have to got though the entire messaging interface to find a current conversation. The problem is that it opens up multiple windows of the exact same conversation to the same person. You can easily have 5 Windows for messages to the same person without even realizing it (I don't know much but it seems like this can't be good for battery consumption). Since other apps like WhatsApp and Viber don't do this it should be something that Microsoft should fix but it shouldn't be an issue period.

4. Reorganize Settings - the disorganized settings hub has been an issue since I got my first WP 7.5 phone. Now that we have 8.1 there are even more options. There seems to be no rhyme or reason for the ordering (I know they set out up based on most used). Even though Microsoft says that it's based on most used, it just makes it difficult to find the setting you need if its not one you use frequently. Grouping the settings based on type or function seems like a no brainer. You don't need to embed them in sub-folders or more side swipe pages, just list them in groups, similar perhaps to how Apple does with the iPhone. (It's seemingly insignificant oversights like these that keep people criticizing Windows Phone for not having the basics and to a point you cannot argue with them because certain basic features that seem obvious are constantly over looked (but I digress)!

5.  Smaller Keyboard - The keyboard in Windows Phones takes up over half the screen real estate when typing. This is annoying more so than problematic because it makes reviewing what you have typed a hassle! I'm sure there are easy ways to fix this like making the keyboard buttons slightly shorter.

6. Calendar live tile - The main reason I use other apps for calendar, like simple calendar, is not for all the different styles of tiles even though those are a selling point, it is mainly due to the fact that the stock calendar app's live tile only shows one appointment. If Microsoft could make

it where you chose the number of appointments shown I would be thoroughly satisfied and honestly wouldn't have the need for simple calendar!

7. Photos Hub - The photos hub used to be a beautifully personalized experience (personalization is a selling point for Windows Phone). Now it has become a bland and lifeless remnant of its former self! There is no difference between your photos huh and another's, both are gray backgrounds and exceedingly dull. I used to actually enjoying going into the photos hub but now I go into it with the same enthusiasm I would when doing chore's. Microsoft, why would you do that (Will Ferrell voice).

8.1. Kids Corner Password - This feature, for the life of me, I cannot understand. If the point of kids corner is to protect your phone, first, why would you put a password on kids corner and second, make it the same password as your main account. It's completely backwards and defeats the purpose. If their password, which is thoroughly pointless, is the same as yours they can access your account at any given moment which means that this great idea and selling point of the Windows phone is not only a gimmick but a sham as well. All you really need to do to fix this feature is to allow kids corner to be accessed without a password and when the regular account is locked. Otherwise delete the feature because it absolutely pointless as is!

 

Honorable Mentions:

Music Drop Down Menu - While there are third party stood yup deal with the drop down menu for listening to music to make it go away, it would be nice to be able to get rid of it from the 1st party Microsoft.

Cortana Visuals - the big search/go button should be the color of the accent/theme not the black cuz when you have a white background it looked kind of odd.

Text Searching/Scrolling - The new way of find a certain spot in text messages but its certainly flawed. At times it is very difficult to actually move around because your finger is in the way to surely see the word. Also other times it is difficult to click on the icon because it snap and was 

Hotmail sync - This is also silly. If you have text message backup on, your Microsoft Account, Twitter, and LinkedIn will not sync correctly. I don't understand why this and should be fixed because it's just another one of those things you wonder why it doesn't work!

Speed and UX - There are those who say Windows phone is fast enough. I've never heard anything or anyone that became great say I'm good enough. The only way to be better if to strive to be better. While yeah, Windows Phone runs well it could be faster and could also have better UX transitions and the like. For example opening the multitasking just pops up the

windows. It functions yeah, but look at iPhone, and Android they have taken that into account as well and have done like graphics or transition things and it makes it look as though they have thought of every detail. Because of this when something on the phone messes up you want to blame it on electronic failures and not a flawed OS. When small problems on Windows Phone happen, people are quick to blame it on Microsoft and the Windows Phone OS because lots of small details are forgotten or just not taken into account. The devil is in the details and I truly believe that! When I use my sisters iPhone everything just feels seamless, and part of that is due to the small UX animations when switching apps or whatever you are doing. But beyond that out just is faster and more fluid. When I used their stock maps app, scaling and rotating seemed like it happened even before I wanted it to. It's finished like this that will propel Windows beyond. While new features are great, making what we have better and more fluid seems like the best bet! Something about speed and fluidity of the OS is extremely appealing to me, and I can't be alone!

twint7787 says:

Yes, this. There's not enough constructive criticism on this site. Its always roses puppy dogs

mab664 says:

Turn off transparent tiles..

ddartman7 says:

If you don't want transparent tiles, just don't set a background image.  If all tiles are solid color there is no point to a background picture.

alllies says:

Dev's have to work on it. Daniel wrote an anticle about it.

rodneyej says:

I could understand if there was an OPTION to bypass all transparent tiles from every app,,, but wouldn't you just be not choosing to use a background, which is already an option in the OS???

afcor says:

I haven't seen any release date for 8.1 to the public. Does anybody have an idea?

Hola Amigos says:

It should be out before 2018, 1st quarter.

BataBole says:

Are you sure? I think they have said 2nd quarter of 2018 xD

It was released today if you check Microsoft's support site

paras chugh says:

Dan,I remember you doing a "8 things we need in wp" and i think all of em are there now so maybe the next 8 things or a poll?

BataBole says:

It's Sam, not Dan.

paras chugh says:

yeah but it was dan back then

peachy001 says:

Sam used to be Dan? This some kind of male-to-male transformation? Only in America. I did wonder why I had not seen them in the same place at the same time. Like Clerk Kent/Superman thing.

I think it's a Batman & Robin situation, right?

puredrive07 says:

Everything you mentioned are wonderful, but all the Xbox Services stink now! I want the Music Store to be like it was in WP8.

saras112 says:

Just a stupid and off topic question. Does Lumia's 1520 buttons (back, start, search/Cortana) can change color?

robinthekid says:

No, it does not.

saras112 says:

In the first picture it looks like it's yellow

'Cause some devices come with "defects". 
My Lumia 720 is blue and my brother is yellow.

For me, Cortana doesn't get used very often. I need to make more of an attempt to incorporate her in my routine. The idea behind location based reminders is awesome. The problem is, I will set one up, for example, remind me to pick up detergent when I am near a Target, I drive right past a Target and Cortana has no clue. Or I am notified 2 miles after I pass Target. It works if I am going to Target, as once I am inside, she chirps. Wish there wasn't a delay.
On Notifications, the MLB At Bat app need to understand how to implement them. I get a notification but, as they all are, its cut off so I cant read what it is. When I click on it, the app opens, but it doesn't take me to the article the notification was referring to. At Bat is not the only app with this issue.
Love the tiles, love quiet hours and love checking for app updates.
I tend to forget about word flow.

Still, I am loving 8.1.

paras chugh says:

yeah i totally agree with your notification toast issue....i think there should be a running line of notification in the toasts

dually5000 says:

Dotto, I would so love the old music hub back with the recently played history section. Music in 8.1 feels like a down grade :(

It's a down grade

It doesn't feel like a downgrade----it is one.     My five year old Symbian phone handles on-board music more intelligently.

Guytronic says:

I do like the tabs in IE11...one of me favs...

crise says:

Too bad the animations when going to tabs and creating new tabs are terribly slow. I hate it. Was much faster in wp8.0

I don't know if I'm the only one, but i liked to me limited to 6 tabs in IE. Now, I can have 20 tabs open because a new tab is open much too often

p4nfa says:

No cortana or quiet hours in Australia :(

webbahboy says:

Sam- I second all the features you mention. I also love how you can swipe the screen to the right and to the left in IE 11 to go forward and back a page. Ingenious!

teaMJPx says:

I love that too. Makes it easier since I already do that on my W8.1 tablet.

semerdar34 says:

Sam you mentioned everyone of the features that I love on WP8.1, ill add... The number of Background tasks increased

Kormiko says:

This is huge.  So many live tiles in 8.0 didn't get updated because of this... and the annoying pop up when you enter an app that wasn't part of that Background task list was annoying too.

What I want is more control over background tasks... like have certain apps check for tile updates once a day or once a week.  Flixter updates their live tile once every two weeks or so... yet it takes up a spot.
 

Word Flow has been the name of the keyboard since at least WP8 (maybe it was 7.5 but I think it was WP8).

After a quick search, apparently it was in WP8: http://blogs.windows.com/windows_phone/b/windowsphone/archive/2012/12/06/the-secrets-of-the-windows-phone-8-keyboard.aspx

It refers to the words at the top that are shown as suggestions based on the context of what you are writing. The common example is if you start typing "Happy" Word Flow will suggest "Birthday" since that is a common phrase.

Jas00555 says:

1) Notification Center.

2) Cortana's people-based reminders. I ABSOLUTELY F*CKING LOVE being able to say "next time X calls, remind me to tell them".

3) Seperating the music app from the OS. The fact that the xbox music app has audio scrubbing makes it 10x better, even if it lags a little when switching songs

4) IE tab syncing. There have been plenty of times that I saw something cool on my phone, but I don't want to type it in manually or copy/paste it or something just to view it on my computer

5) Unlimited IE tabs

Jack Janik says:

Quiet Hours requires Cortana ( I honestly don't know why) Which requires location services (again, not even a simple, play song x without GPS?) so, I haven't really used either.. :/

It's been lot of fun. With my WP8.1. Since I upgraded it. It really enhanced my gaming experience and likewise the flexibility of typing with word flow, better WIFI connectivity. Easy access too App update etc but the only issues am having is with the sunlight readability. It malfunctions at times, it makes the colour displayed funny looking at times. Hoping an update is around the corner too fix that.

wind711 says:

Gaming? This is a windows phone

Peg Leg says:

If you have a 1520 then you have the assertive screen, this does change some colors for more contrast. Don't know which other phones have assertive display.

Sonu K says:

Am i first??!!!

Yeaayyy!!!

Peg Leg says:

That there's funny

spaulagain says:

I'm a big fan of 8.1 minus it's lagginess. But I'd say the notification center is the clear winner in new features.

Data shared between my Surface Pro and WP 8.1. Wifi connections, IE tabs, Onedrive.

D3V011 says:

I'm with you on the location-based reminders.  They've kind of changed my life.

Sam Sabri says:

Right? Super useful for shopping lists that aren't super time sensitive. Need to pick up some running shoes next time you're at the mall? Cortana will remind you.

D3V011 says:

Ha!  Funny you should mention that.  I've literally used Cortana to remind me to buy shoes. 

Slovenix says:

More tiles and transparency, Quiet hours, Store look, Calendar, Apps to SD card, Word flow, Data sense, well there still needs some work on the resuming speed and notifications :)

MrVol84 says:

2 months already? Imagine how shitty these past few months would've been if there was no developer preview? I think us WP fans should be rewarded for putting up with this snail of an update process, and for having the patience to endure the pain caused by the lack of competence displayed. Sigh.. Ok, I'm done. Lol

AvatarEW says:

Your personal choice to use beta software. You don't like it, don't install it.

MrVol84 says:

You're missing the point bud. I'm not saying I don't like the beta.

Peg Leg says:

Yeah, right?

AvatarEW says:

Exactly, you don't have a point.  You're just venting and confirmed it yourself at the end of your first post.

My point:   no install = no aggravation

zino9090 says:

I think he's saying that if not for the developer preview, how would the majority of people on it right now would have been able to exercise patience considering the fact that the official rollout hasn't commenced even after 2 months

Natebird says:

Snail of an update process lol have you ever heard of Android ???

MrVol84 says:

Nate.. I get what you're saying, but the difference is that android is not the one trailing behind here. Their fragmentation issue is a whole other thing.

Kristijan87 says:

Three of those things I cannot enjoy. Well, I can enable Cortana but I hate those region changes everytime I want to make a purchase. So no Cortana which means no quiet hours. :( I was quite looking forward to those. And no swipe keyboard for Croatian language. That's the feature I was hoping will become available but still hasn't. I love swipe. I'm using it right now to type this and it's so cool and fast. I wish I had that for my native language. :( Other than that, I love separate volume controls. REALLY love them. :)

dotred says:

Same here: no Cortana, no Wordflow, no Quiet Hours. The only addition worth mentioning for me is Notification c.; the rest (backgounds etc.) is meh. And it's getting increasingly frustrating.

MS could at least enable word suggestion - there's a working spelling checker in MS Office, so they have most of the required data already.

Also, quiet hours should be possible without Cortana, right?

vansiv says:

I have 8.1 HATE IT the bug sound on L920. Cant listening music. Im back with default rom, and i getting angry 'coz here on WP Central are talking everyday about the wonderful WP8.1 is.

I know 8.1 is amazing, i have it. But, we need teh date of release, because guys, seriously, the Deview program sucks without the firmware of Nokia.

So, at last, WP Central and your tons of WP8.1 post, do you know something about the real real release data?

Or we gonna see a lot of posts of Wp8.1 until december 2014 without explanation of the important thing here. the release data of WP8.1
 

Szym says:

Factory reset should help. PfD is for Devs, not for people who want upgrade software without bugs.

vansiv says:

Come on, now nobody wants and update without being a dev. 80% of the people that update to WP8.1 are not devs.

cborisa says:

vansiv, your frustration is acceptable, however as MS has mentioned - Dev.preview is not intended for basic users and are for testing purposes only. As soon as official update is out, you can open comments about stability. But before that work with Dev community and MS to make WP8.1 better.

As for Lumia 920 - I'm running Dev preview on it and has performed lots of additional testng for WP8.1. I didn't notice any issue with the phone - it's running like it should.

Peg Leg says:

Hey, I agree, where is the release for cyan? Love the opportunity to use PVD, but MS said cyan would be out in the summer. People blabbed about the 24th and.....no, nothin yet. Suddenly, right before the 24th, everyone quit babbling about cyan. I need me some cyan. I guess, I could hold my breath and wait and turn cyan.

palmujukka says:

Microsoft never said that they will release WP 8.1 on the 24th, but only that its support will start on that day.

hakmi says:

I just miss the old people hub... I hate the new facebook integration

Tansen says:

I think the notification center is the most useful new feature added. Cortana is very nice while driving and just all around hands free (mostly) functionality. Transparent tiles REALLY adds alot to the overall look, and I hope that more customization comes as far as transparent LIVE tiles (instead of just static ones) and whatnot goes. The new music app is what it is... Hopefully in the coming weeks it'll approach the smoothness and quality of the one that had been around for years before.

danielgray says:

I needed Cortana to launch when i press my telephone button in my car. Does this happen for anyone?

wetworker says:

I hate Xbox Music - Games Hub - Photo app.

twomill69 says:

Although knowing the reasons for splitting xbox music/video etc etc, I still don't understand why music is STILL so poor, poor in opening the app, poor in speed once in the app, yeh, small improvements via fortnightly updates but c'mon, this should be one of the flagship apps of Microsoft, its currently not a good advert for W8.1......

kjnoel says:

Hey Sam what's that background photo you're using in the screenshot?

Syncing of themes between my phone and my laptop. I am always surprised about the speed of the syncing.

DVELOPinc says:

You and me both. I can almost set my phone down and pick laptop up and voila, I can grab what I want that's synced.

Sad that sync is that fast but loading\ resuming apps is slow as hell, lol.

typaulo says:

I love all those features except word flow that I can't use. Hope Microsoft releases more supported languages soon :D

IceDree says:

2 months? Wow it seems just yesterday that we were freakin out when Joe tweeted that's it out.
Mmmm things I like, I don't know... I've been using 8.1 exclusively since it came out & kinda forgot which was part of what lol, but I'll give it a shot.
-Word Flow.
-The Custom Backgrounds ... I didn't like it when it leaked ... It's true what they say... Don't knock it until you try it.
-The fixed Data Sense.
-The Sense apps.
-The Upcoming Lockscreen App (12 days now since Joe tweeted "Two Weeks" lol)
-And Its Genuinely faster.
-Cortana & Quiet Hours, but never had the pleasure.
-The Updated Store.
-Universal Apps.
-The Burst Shots feature... Which it was hi-res though.
-I can swipe down to close an app instead of pressing the "X" ... I wish if it was both ways ... Up or down.
What I don't like:
-Music App lol.
-The Gallery... I understand why they did it, but I still don't like it.
-The Status Bar doesn't autohide anymore.
-The Fact is Quiet Hours must be enabled from Cortana only ... Being an HTC user outside the states makes it really annoying.
-It broke my HTC clock lol.

blob741 says:

As a French, I still haven't met with Cortana (don't wanna sound silly and talk in English to my phone), thus no quiet hours either. Then I guess it's more like windows phone 6.1 over here...
As for the transparent tiles, the picture on the article shows how careful you have to be to not get an unreadable mess.

Don't you sound silly talking in English now?

David_JRG says:

He isn't talking, he's writing.

Wrong again, he's typing

Quiet hours shouldn't rely on Cortana, there is no reason people outside the US should still be without quiet hours without the region hack

IceDree says:

This! Not to mention, the region hack doesn't work with HTC devices.

Szym says:

'Check update' button should be on top in Windows Store.

 

David_JRG says:

Separate volume controls and 3rd party integration to gallery, posting, etc.

murtagh360 says:

I would add to your positive IE point of being able to access open tabs from your windows 8.1 devices on your phone

Great article and couldn't agree more with all of them in fact I wasn't using reminders for places which is what I've just done (buy something in my local Tesco as I always think of something then forget when there) . They have all vastly improved the usability of Windows phone day to day. I use the in built calendar for all my work appointments which is a lot so the improved calendar is excellent. Easy access to settings Wi-Fi Bluetooth flight mode is also really handy. Not forgetting swipe to close in task manager.... What's not to like and I've Ni issues at all except I'd like Cortana UK please

DarrenSproat says:

Love everything... Except, I still can't see pictures taken with my Lumia1020 and synced to OneDrive from any of my WP8.1 devices with the "update 2" from June 2nd-ish applied.

felickz says:

Month calendar view and live tile still stuck, no way to overlook those shortcomings

madogmoody says:

Why do tabs in IE11 have to reload everytime you go away to do something else, back in WP8 they used to stay in the same saved state and you could come back to them at anytime without the need to reload the webpage. :(

DVELOPinc says:

That is one that annoys me. That and if you have a site pinned, if the tab is already open and you launch from Startscreen, it doesn't update. Kind of backwards thinking.

peachy001 says:

Yep, annoying as hell.

MadSci2 says:

A tad off topic but I'm considering getting a second phone, but I don't want two phone numbers. So I'm curious Sam, since you have two phones, how do you manage them? Different numbers? Forward calls to the one in your hand? Our do you swap SIMs whenever you change phones?

IceDree says:

Quick question, since "Small phones" now have the option to Show More Tiles & have 3 Medium Tiles columns ... Can you do the opposite on "Bigger Phones" & have 2 Medium Tiles Columns ?

TonyF64 says:

No.  I have a 1520 and the option is not there in the settings menu.

IceDree says:

I see. Thanks Tony!

klose91 says:

I absolutely love the installing apps on SD card feature. And Word Flow is also a big thing, it's really awesome. That you can choose a background picture on the start screen is really nice done by Microsoft. Ah, what's good too is that you can have more live tiles in the start screen by enabling the three columns. Wish I could say something about Cortana since she's the big blowing your mind feature but I don't live in the USA and I can't change my settings (thanks for that HTC). In general I can say that mostly everything got better with this update (except the Xbox Music App lol).

mayblast says:

I love how my friends look at me when I try to use the music-thingy. Oh and it has such a cool name too! /s
For real, I love the potential of WP but in practice it is not that great
(same argument goes to Android and iOS also). Hope MS gets their shit together

slimshady97 says:

The wallpaper is really awesome in transparent tile section(6)!(sorry for being off the topic)

Dean Lewis says:

I went from my Lumia 920 to a 1520. When I used the 1520 running 8.0 it was quite annoying to navigate before I updated it to 8.1. REALLY IS A HUGE UPDATE!

eugie says:

Can i copy this and paste. And share because i don't discover them all until i read this.

Rahmadi_AP says:

How can I get quiet hours? I didn't find it.

palmujukka says:

Do you have Cortana enabled?

Rahmadi_AP says:

Ummm no, because my region in my 920 is Indonesia.

TK2011 says:

Pretty much agree with the list except the Calendar app. It's still a fail with only one appointment showing on the live tile. I use 3rd party apps only because of that.

I like that the new features are so unique that they've gotten me laid multiple times now. yay.

DVELOPinc says:

On my 521 Cortana is the one I got tired of quickly. The lag through Cortana, especially if I am in a hurry, is almost unusable for me.

The keyboard is one I can't live without now. With large fingers and small display typing out words has always been a pain. Now just sliding around spelling words has made my experience on my phone awesome.

Unlimited tabs in IE is one I like but, again on my 521, too many tabs can last the hell out of the phone and I tend to have to remember to close them.

I hope they do something with the camera in 8.1 too speed it up. You're screwed if you are in a hurry and want to take a pic. I even jumped over to Nokia Camera Beta but the experience is the same, the never ending resuming screen is a nuisance.

Love the Start Backgrounds and Transparent Tiles but, hopefully Microsoft will open it up to allow you to switch Lockscreen and Startscreen Backgrounds simultaneously and allow devs access to the API.

The Manual Update check is one of my favorites. Generally Auto Updates didn't happen till around 4PM so I'd have to wait all day and now I can check randomly throughout the day.

patrickwee says:

Don't like the people hub ! I don't know you guys, but my L720 when having a notification I slide down action center there is some delay ! Other than this the rest is acceptable .

mindhere says:

I probably use the store update feature more than anything else

Well, isn´t today the OFFICIAL release of WP 8.1 ?

http://bgr.com/2014/05/12/windows-phone-8-1-update-release-date/

Microsoft..... always delayed

 

palmujukka says:

No. MS has only said that the support will start on the 24th. That news site has misunderstood what MS is stating on their website. WPCentral would have made an article if WP 8.1 was about to be released on the 24th.

rain620 says:

Is it just me or Twitter really can't be uninstalled now?

peachy001 says:

IE is nicer, but landscape mode, when using Bing to search uses an enormous text, wasn't like this before. The reading mode feature is very good though. Reminds my of my HTC Desire wordflow or reflow or whatever it was called. One other annoyance is the way that I cannot search for an image and then got to the source address. Used to work fine, now it does not give me the option, which I find very odd. The backgrounds for the tiles are great and add a nice feature. And I am now used to the smaller tiles with the new tile sizes. The Notification Centre is good, and I think I compliments the live tiles, like them both. The new volume controls are good, I just wish Deezer would work better, still not right. As for the keyboard, I didn't know you couldn't add swear words to it before. One thing it needs is the ability to edit the dictionary, not just to clear it. Most words are keepers, but I may have added some rogue ones, that I would like to remove. Looking forward to getting quiet time. Now hoping they sort out the jerky scrolling when using apps, and also the background flashes.

wp8-1 says:

I like the transparent tiles the most, and it feels like it's been longer than 2 months haha.

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