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.
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.
Microsoft Bringing Cortana to Android and iOS
Microsoft today said Android and iOS users will soon be able to use Cortana, its virtual assistant, on their smartphones. The Android and iOS Cortana app will work in coordination with Cortana on Windows 10 PCs, according to Microsoft.
Microsoft Adds OneDrive Streaming to Android and iOS Xbox Music Apps
Microsoft has rolled out updates to the Android and iOS Xbox Music apps that adds the ability to stream music stored in OneDrive. The free feature doesn't require a subscription, so people can upload songs to OneDrive and stream them to their Android or iOS device.
Microsoft Pushing Cortana to iOS Beta Testers
Microsoft has made good on its promise to make Cortana available to iOS devices. The company polled Windows Insiders earlier this month to gauge interest in the idea and received enough feedback that it has begun rolling out Cortana in beta form to those interested in testing.