Windows Phone is like the forgotten youngest sibling your parents had when you were already in high school. You’re Android, your older brother is iOS, and Windows Phone is trying to hang with the big boys.
With the release of Windows Phone 8.1, Microsoft’s mobile OS came much closer to hanging with the big boys. It adds a lot of features that make it a more legitimate competitor to Android. Here are our top five favorite features:
For some people, Cortana is a meaningless word. For others, it’s a character in Halo or something to do with the sun.
In Windows Phone 8.1, Cortana is Microsoft’s answer to Siri and Google Now. Cortana is your very own virtual assistant that aims to answer your spoken queries and commands. Since Apple already uses Bing with Siri, many users will find Cortana to provide a familiar experience.
However, most people agree that Cortana has the most pleasing voice out of all three major mobile OSes. It’s not the same voice actor as the Halo character, but it sounds like a real human being.
Cortana is still in its early stages of development. Siri and Google Now were both pretty gimmicky when they started out but gradually became more powerful. Like Google Now, Cortana will deliver information it thinks you’ll like before you even ask her.
2) Set wallpapers
What? Windows Phone 8 didn’t let you change wallpapers? Unfortunately, it’s true. Windows Phone 8.1 will be the first Windows Phone OS to allow transparent tiles and unique wallpapers.
Previously, WP8 users could only change their lock screen backgrounds, which isn’t a great way to customize your phone. Customizing your wallpaper will undoubtedly be a welcome change for Windows Phone users.
3) Swyping/ Swipe Typing
Many Android users enjoy swyping, which is typing on virtual keyboards by sliding your finger across the screen. As long as you’re not using crazy words or slang, swyping is a pretty fast way to enter words into a phone. Windows Phone 8.1 will add swyping. The WP8.1 keyboard is reportedly easy to use and does a good job of recognizing word inputs.
4) Better internet browsing with Internet Explorer 11
Internet Explorer was a really bad internet browser for many years, but Microsoft wants you to know that those years are in the past. WP8.1 adds Internet Explorer 11 to your Windows mobile devices. It offers similar functionality to Chrome and Safari and is a good, fast, modern internet browser. What more could you want?
5) Notification center
This is the most important reason why many people will be looking at WP8.1 as a legitimate mobile OS: it has a notification center. Android started the notification center craze and Apple copied Android with iOS7. Windows tried its own thing for a while but it didn’t really work out, which is why we have the WP8.1 notification center today.
The notification center is the same as every other mobile OS notification center: you see all alerts that have appeared on your phone since you last checked it, including app updates, messages, missed calls, etc.
What do you think? Is Windows Phone 8.1 a legitimate competitor to iOS and Android? Or is Microsoft fighting a losing battle against the two mobile giants?