Windows Phone 8.1 to feature notification centre, voice-based assistant: Report

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Microsoft has been working on a revamped version of its Windows Phone operating system, Windows Phone 8.1 aka Windows Phone Blue, for quite some time now.

The Verge in a report has revealed that Microsoft is gearing up to ship its upcoming Windows Phone 8.1 with two new features – a notification centre that can be accessed by swiping down from top of the screen, just like Android and iOS, apart from a voice-based assistant believed to be codenamed ‘Cortana’.

The report cites sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans, and notes that the Redmond giant has been testing copies of Windows Phone 8.1 internally and plans to unveil the rumoured Windows Phone upgrade at Build Developer Conference in April next year.

As per the report, with the test builds of Windows Phone 8.1, quick settings will be accessible by a short swipe from top of the screen, while a long swipe will show a full notification history.

It’s worth pointing out that Windows Phone already offers the TellMe voice-based assistant, although it’s nowhere close to Apple’s Siri or Google Now in terms of functionality and accuracy. However, it looks like Microsoft is working on a much more advanced voice-assistant app codenamed Cortana, after the omnipresent AI character in the famous Halo series.

The report suggests that Microsoft intends to replace the existing Bing Search on Windows Phone devices to offer voice or text input interactions. The Verge claims that the rumoured voice-based assistant ‘Cortana’ will be similar to Apple Siri technology and Google Now, and can learn location context from the Windows Phone device.

The report also speaks of few other additions that can be expected in Windows Phone 8.1, including split volume controls, which will help control phone’s ringtone volume separately without changing the volume of media playback; Bing Smart Search which is similar to what’s available on Windows 8.1, and that for enterprise users, Microsoft will add the VPN support.

Previously a report suggested that the two yet-to-be-announced Nokia smartphones, thought-to-be-codenamed Goldfinger and Moneypenny, will be the first devices to run Windows Phone 8.1.

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