The OS is bring much desired features like Notification center, separate volume controls, cortana (siri-like) voice assistant, maybe a file manager and more.
As expected, leaked information and screenshots of the new OS are gradually being released to the public and more light is shed on what to expect come April.
Right now, on windows phone, there is only one universal volume control that controls all sound on the phone, but that will change soon, the screenshot below was recently leaked showing separate volume controls...
|Separate volume controls|
Apple set the bar for how you communicate with your phone when they released SIRI. and now mobile platforms don't seem complete if there isn't some sort of voice assistant present.
Google's voice assistant is the best in my opinion, Windows Phone 8.1 is rumored to bring with it a voice assistant (codenamed: Cortana) that will be based off of Microsoft's Bing search engine and Foursquare?
Cortana is the name of the AI in HALO games for xBox.
|Siri meet Cortana...|
Another interesting feature coming to windows phone is the onscreen buttons (already prevalent on Android phones). Right now, WP devices have hardware capacitive buttons, but with the introduction of this feature, we wouldn't need extra bezel space, which will in turn be used to make the display larger.
There is also word that the large tile will be introduced in WP8.1 (Similar to the larger tile on Windows 8.1).
So you will have 4 sizes to choose from: Small, Medium, Wide and Large.
Swype Keyboard has also been hinted to be coming with Windows Phone 8.1, the popular input method (already widely available and used on Android phone, oh and Symbian too) is expected to be included as a feature in WP8.1. It's not the curved keyboard we saw a couple of years ago but it will do...
And then there is the notification center we have all clamored for since day one, since the launch of WIndows Phone 7!
A screenshot of what the notification center will look like has finally surfaced and its gone METRO!
Microsoft is calling it the ACTION Center, I choose to call it the notifiACTION center.
There is also a mock up of what the settings page looks like.
You swipe down to unveil the center, but many would argue that all these features will make WP more and more like Android, but the truth is, if you want to make it easier for Android and iOS users to switch, then you have to take what they already have and try to make it better. And by naming it the Action center, I believe Microsoft will make this the notification center we are used to and much more.
|mock up of action center settings|
With all these new features being unofficially revealed, it is clear that the guys at Microsoft have been really busy trying to make the Windows Phone OS formidable enough to give Android and iOS something to worry about.
There are still more features/changes we hope to see when WP8.1 comes, features like smart dialing, a revamped/redesigned Windows Phone store, transparent tiles, customizable background image for start screen, deeper social network (Facebook, twitter, Skype...) integration, file manager, select default apps, VPN support and more.
In conclusion, from all the features/changes we have hear or seen coming with WP8.1, it is safe to say that you won't just be updating your phone, you will be installing a new and improved OS.