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3 Windows Phone 8.1 Features I’m Already Using

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3 Windows Phone 8.1 Features I’m Already Using

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Two days ago I couldn’t take it anymore…
There was a new and shiny (dev) release for my Windows Phone and I just had to install it. With trembling hands and a heavy heart I’ve installed Preview for Developers on my HTC 8x and dived right into the dreaded “download –> install –> reboot”  cycle which took forever (or 30 min – hard to tell). After the final 8.1 installation finished “importing” my stuff I’ve tried turning my phone on and was genuinely amazed that it worked without a hitch.
I very was impressed – here I am using a non-Nokia phone and installing a preview release and it just worked!
After less then a day as a WP8.1 user I discovered three new capabilities/apps that I always wanted and found their way to the new OS – thank you Microsoft for listening.
I could talk about Cortana – but there have been  numerous blog posts and articles about that specific feature and besides it’s not (yet?) available for all countries (including the one I’m  writing this post from).
And so without further ado – here are my top three new things WP8.1:

Podcastpodcastss

WP8 had “Podcasts” but it was lacking. It was available via the Store  whole experience felt half baked. Due to arcane (legal?) reasons if you happen to live outside of a few selected counties (US) you couldn’t subscribe to and of the freely available podcasts. I had to download the podcasts usingITunes (?!) and sync the downloaded files using the Windows Phone App for Desktop.
Those days are over – now I have a shiny new app where all of my podcast reside.wp_ss_20140417_0006wp_ss_20140417_0005wp_ss_20140417_0007
I can even pin my favorites podcast to the start screen – although no notification has been observed.

Notifications center

Another high profile feature on the new OS is known as the notification center. This is where all of your phone notification would appear in a form which start to become de-facto standard in mobile operating systems. wp_ss_20140417_0002
But this is not what I like most about it – check out the top part of the notification center:
image
That’s right! no more searching the setting just to turn my Bluetooth on or connect to a new Wi-Fi network. Doing these common tasks has just become much simpler and to top it there’s even a link to the “All Settings” page.

Calendar

I always felt that my phone calendar left much to be desired. It was impossible to use – month view was too top level and impossible to read while finding a meeting in the daily view was a real pain. These two view are still there (I guess we need to leave something for the 8.2 release) but the weekly view become so much better:
wp_ss_20140417_0004
It’s easy to see my weekly and daily meetings and I like the fact that the bottom left part was left for a “high level” monthly view.
It’s seemly to see my schedule as well as next week’s plans and to top it all they even added a weather forecast for the day (also in daily view) image.

Conclusion

There are many features and new apps bundled in the 8.1 release but for me the features above are the “instant win” features – I’ve been using them immediately after the install finished (+ reboot) and I liked what I saw.
Although the WP8.1 is supposed to be released sometimes soon - I know I’ll be keeping my “Dev” version until it happens because I’m already hooked.

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Published at DZone with permission of Dror Helper, DZone MVB. See the original article here.

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