I am lucky. My wife is the quiet type.
I am lucky. My wife is the quiet type.
Here is an interesting set of demo videos I found on the 8.1 W8P update. Never mind the way the guy 'acts' - the info is interesting anyhow.
Cortana (yes!) and Many, Many Other Great Features coming in Windows Phone 8.1
Thanks for that link, whs.
Very good Coke. That will be interesting to hear what your experience is.
Well, time for my Microsoft Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Preview review.
To start off with the most major part of it, Cortana. She replaces the Bing Search page when you hit the Search button. Tap it quickly to open it, press and hold for voice input. It's an interesting construct for sure, it asks you some questions about what you care about and feeds relevant things you care about. Essentially, it's the current Bing page but customized for you. You can still scroll through for weather and top headlines and all. You can type in a search or question, or speak it. As for right now, it's only in BETA form and only can use the English US voice. So far, I haven't really used it in depth to see what it does, but when the time comes I'll post that. I do like how they designed the UI part of Cortana to reflect the metro design form.
Start Screen backgrounds. Wow. As a Windows Phone purist, I was taken aback by that feature when it was leaked because it just didn't feel right. But after playing with some images, it's very interesting. Unlike all the stupid suggestions of a Start wallpaper BEHIND the tiles where you won't even seen a glimpse of the image, they decided to do it differently and have the image peer through the tiles that can support that. Some tiles do, some don't. It does have some parallax scroll as well. Unfortunately, there are no new accent colors or anything new like that. It would had been awesome if they allowed for Start backgrounds and automatically match the accent color to the image like in Windows 8. Even better would have been the plethora of background and accent colors like in Windows 8.1. But oh well, we might see some changes down the road for that with an Update 1. Furthermore, there is an option for screen sizes 4.5 inches or bigger (I THINK maybe 4 inches or bigger) that allows for the third column of tiles. This also was weird for me as the tiles were too small and reminded me of Windows Phone 7 where the square tiles were baby compared to 7.8 and 8.0. The baby tiles 8.0 introduced become embryo tiles in that view.
Action Center. Oh boy. Personally, I believe that the Start Screen is your notification center and if you don't have the app tile pinned to your Start Screen and whine about no notifications, that's a fault on the user. If the tile is pinned but no or relevant information is displayed, that's a fault on the developer. To have an actual UI to show the obvious and redundant is unnecessary to me. The only good part of it is the customizing of the quick access icons to toggle wifi or Bluetooth on or off or even opening up the Settings menu. I'll need to reconfigure my Start Screen a bit now since I don't need to have the Settings tile anymore. It can be opened regardless of screen you're on.
All the animations in 8.1 are either changed or speed up. It's very interesting and gives a feeling of quicker response although with the Start animation, the part where you'll see the All Apps list is like a quarter of a second. That could be removed. Also, you can now swipe down to close apps just like in Windows 8. There is still the X button, but redundant as swiping is cooler.
The lock screen has been tweaked slightly in 8.1. The time text is much larger, and all that text for date and time are shoved down to the bottom corner like if you were in Driving Mode in 8.0. Also, they changed some APIs so an app could literally use the lock screen as its own space. Maybe for example, a now playing visualizer from a music app could be used.
IE 11 has been improved for infinite number of tabs able to be opened and if you have settings that are synced between your PC and Phone, it also shows the tabs on your PC that are open. Very cool! The reading mode is a nice addition as well.
SO MANY SETTINGS AND SENSES!
There is now Data Sense, WiFi Sense, Battery Sense, and Storage Sense. Data Sense is regardless of carrier now and shows your data usage obviously. WiFi sense is an interesting new feature. It can automatically connect to public networks and input generic data to accept the user agreement if needed or you can put in your information to connect. There is also the feature of sharing your network password to your Facebook friends if they're nearby you and want to connect to your wifi network. You can turn it off and it can turn on when you get near to your favorite places that have wifi so it saves your battery and cellular data. Very nifty indeed! Battery Sense shows you what takes most of your battery which is helpful for sure.
The sound volume controls are now separate from each other: ringer+notifications, Bluetooth, media+apps.
People hub has been changed a bit to show larger images and better contact filtering. There are also a few UI tweaks in the phone and messaging app where there is now a contact button in the bottom control button row. This just opens the contact card for that person, even though tapping on that person's name does just the same. In the phone app, the phone icon next to your call history items isn't there anymore, it's the contact icon and tapping the name dials that contact or number.
Pictures app has changed. I'm kind of meh towards it as it's just like in Windows 8.1 and isn't a hub anymore. You need the apps for OneDrive or Facebook to see those pictures from there.
Moving on towards what I'm not liking...
Sharing. The way Microsoft did this is SO ios 6 it's disgusting. Before, you would sign into your facebook account and Windows Phone would turn more social with facebook weaved through the OS. You wanted to share a picture you just took, you would hit share and tap on Facebook, add a caption, and you're done. This was done natively by the system. Now, you share a picture, it throws it into the Facebook app. Ugh. The Pictures app used to show albums from facebook or OneDrive or whatever other service you had integrated into the system. Now, it's just local images. Basically, before 8.1, social networking and sharing was integrated into the platform. That subtle difference was what gave Windows Phone that feeling of being better connected to people and social networks than any other platform. Now, it's all disintegrated with everything having to be handed off to an app. It's the opposite of progress, it's congress.
Xbox Music. Damn it all to hell right now. It's like every new platform update from Microsoft means a depreciated music experience. Xbox Music on 8.1 is slow, EVERY damn time you open the app it looks for music. Why? I don't know. It doesn't open as fast either and that's such a huge issue for me as I was driving around earlier and wanted to change artists. So, I tapped on the text from the lock screen to open the app, black screen saying "Loading..." Took about a two minutes for it not to load. I had to go manually search from Cortana for that one song. Even if you disable music streaming, it does nothing. The layout is so poor and basic compared to 8.0 and Windows Phone 7's Zune Player. It doesn't look very polished nor is very polished. This has been such a crux of my issues with Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8.1 now with Xbox Music. Seriously, EVERY single review for the app on Windows has everyone saying they just want Zune and Zune was better (if you used it). This is so true. Zune was feature rich, information rich, and just more a richer of an experience. Music discovery is phenomenal on Zune. Xbox Music is like the WordPad to Microsoft Word. It's there, you use it because you don't have Office. They just need to get it together on that front. The lock screen doesn't change to the now playing artist nor is there a live tile. This could be because it's a developer preview, but still.
Bing Vision isn't anywhere to be found other than from the Camera Lens list. That can easily be put back into Cortana.
This is more of personal preference, but the swipe keyboard is freaking weird. I still can't like it or use it. Typing on a keyboard to me is tapping characters, not swiping on them. So weird.
Overall, what an update! It's going to be exciting to see what more comes down the pipeline from Nokia and Microsoft and even more exciting to see more people with low end handsets getting the EXACT SAME experience as the top of the line Lumia. It doesn't matter if you have an HTC 8X or the Lumia 520 or the 930 or the 1020 or some of the lower end Windows Phones coming out soon. All will run Windows Phone 8.1 in all glory. Cortana of course is still in beta and once it's out of beta, there will be several countries that it will launch in. Very exciting times!
Thanks Coke, impressive. How could you gather so much information in such a short period of time - amazing.