Microsoft Adds Features to Windows Phone 8.1
Microsoft today announced the first update to Windows Phone 8.1, which adds several new features to the smartphone platform. To start, the update will expand Cortana's availability outside the U.S. Microsoft its offering Cortana to China and the U.K. as a beta, and Canada, India, and Australia as a alpha. In the U.S., Cortana has been improved with natural language scenarios, snooze times for reminders, and a bit more personality. The update adds a feature called Live Folders, which can be placed on the Start screen. The Live Tiles of the apps in the folder appear on the Tile of the Folder, so users will be able to see when the apps in the folder have been updated. The folders can be arranged and shaped however users want. The update improves the performance of the XBox Music application, which should see improvements in app load and list scrolling, as well as the return of several features, such as background sync and swipe-to-advance. The Windows Store Live Tile has been improved to provide dynamic updates concerning new apps. Users will have ability to select multiple SMS messages for deletion and forwarding. Last, the update includes a new feature called Apps Corner, which is aimed at business users. It sandboxes select apps and restricts which ones can be used so businesses can have more control over employee devices. Microsoft said the update will be pushed to developers in preview form in early August and will be distributed to consumers within several months.
OneDrive for Windows Grabs New Security Features
Microsoft today released a modest update to its OneDrive application for Windows Phone handsets. OneDrive now allows users to sign in with multiple Microsoft accounts on a single device.
Cortana for Android Now Works On the Lock Screen
Microsoft today made it possible for Android device owners to access and use Cortana above the lock screen on their smartphones. Microsoft has been testing the feature since earlier this year and is now rolling it out to all users.
Microsoft Adds Business Intelligence to Cortana's Bag of Tricks
Microsoft has given its business customers a new tool by integrating its Power BI product into Cortana. Power BI provides access to company-specific data, such as financial filings and performance reports.
Cortana Says 'Hello' to Four New Countries
Microsoft today made Cortana available in four more countries. Cortana is the voice-controlled personal assistant built into Windows Phone 8.1.
Microsoft Targeting January for Lumia Denim Update
Microsoft today said that it will begin pushing the Lumia Denim system update to its Windows Phones en masse beginning next month. The update is already trickling out to a few phones in select markets, but all Lumia smartphones running Windows Phone 8.1 will see the update at some point next month.