Microsoft is reportedly working to address two of the major shortcomings its Windows Phone 8 operating system faces when compared to the Apple iPhone or Google Android devices. Rumors suggest that Microsoft will introduce a dedicated notification center and a new digital assistant akin to Google Now and Siri.
The Verge writer Tom Warren, who has a reliable track record when it comes to Microsoft rumors, says that his sources say Microsoft is beta testing Windows Phone 8.1 with plans to introduce the OS update at its BUILD conference in April 2014. There’s no guarantee that these features will be among the next major update of Windows Phone, it appears likely that the following software upgrades will be included:
– The “Cortana” assistant will upgrade Bing to be a mix of Siri and Google Now. It will have voice commands and text input, but it will also remind users about appointments and provide travel information. Microsoft also plans to add Bing Smart Search results.
– A dedicated notification center will be added and accessible by swiping down from the top of the screen. Users will still have Live Tiles but not have to rely solely on them for updates.
– Volume controls will added specifically for ringtones and music or video, so there no longer needs to be a one-volume level.
– The music hub, Xbox Music, Xbox Video, and several other apps that are built-in will be separated from the core OS in order to make updates faster and easier, a tactic Google employed for Android. Other rumored changes include apps being allowed to include the People Hub in new unspecified ways.
– The Verge also reports that Nokia is working on smartphones that support touch-free interaction and virtual navigation buttons, so Windows 8.1 may support gestures via the proximity sensor.