Today marks a big day for fans of Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform. Starting today, Microsoft will be sending out updates to Windows Phone 8 devices that will bump them up to the latest and greatest version of the operating system, Windows Phone 8.1. The release of WP 8.1 was confirmed by Tom Warren of The Verge on July 15.
While it may take a while for the software to hit every Windows Phone 8 device, the update will bring many new features to both existing and new hardware. The Windows Phone 8.1 update will roll out in batches, and the date your phone receives the update will depend on both the handset you have and the carrier the device runs on.
Windows Phone 8.1 which was announced in April, brings a number of updates to the table, including highly customizable home screens, improved Wi-Fi and cellular radio tools, improved stability, an Android style drop down notification center, a gesture based keyboard (Swype) and more importantly Cortana.
Cortana is Microsoft’s answer to both Siri, and Google Now. Cortana has been designed to grow and improve the more the end user uses the feature. The more data and information Cortana is given, the more relevant the information it provides will be. Microsoft believes that Cortana will be the killer feature that will help put Windows Phone on the mobile map once and for all.
Along with the update to the main operating system, users of Nokia devices will also find that they will receive the new Nokia Cyan update alongside the WP 8.1 update. The Cyan update bring a lot of Nokia centric updates to current Lumia devices such as an improved camera application, improved Creative Studio, and StoryTeller apps, easier to use photo editing features, and a device hub. Users of the Lumia 1520 and the Lumia Icon will also benefit from tweaks to how the camera on the phone works in low light conditions, continuous autofocus, and RAW image improvements.
Microsoft is certainly hoping that the latest update to Windows Phone 8.1 will finally help Windows Phone gain some traction in key North American and European marketplaces. The mobile OS has been struggling to gain ground on both the iPhone and Google Android based devices since its launch in 2010, but now MS believes that by listening to user feedback, and by implementing the features that have been requested the most, Windows Phone might just have a fighting chance at becoming the industry leader that it believes the platform can be.