Windows 8.1 First Impressions

So, I just recently downloaded the Windows Phone 8.1 on my Lumia 925. I’ll be doing a quick review of the first impressions of this OS.

 

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What’s in?

A lot. It’s like completely overhauled in terms of features. Design wise too there have been some changes but the idiosyncrasy of the Windows Phone in Live Tiles has been kept the same. There are just minor tweaks here and there when design is concerned. The calling screen has got a design uplift. So has the Calendar, which now looks even more awesome! The camera has got a design overhaul, which, honestly, I did not like. For other major changes, I’ll start with the start screen.

Now you have the capability to turn on a third set of tiles on your home screen. Honestly speaking, this feature does not look great on smaller screen phones like mine. But then, it’s down to personal choices. You may want an extra column of information. It really is a personal choice as far as adding an extra column is concerned.

Next up is the BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL parallax. You can now setup an image of your own choice on the background as wallpaper instead of solid colors. This feature actually kind of redefines wallpapers. It looks amazing on the phone and surprisingly feels even better!

Next, the Action Center. One feature that puts this WP OS right up against the likes of Android and iOS. While I wouldn’t say it was direly needed feature, at least for people like me who have been using this platform for quiet some time. But the regular criticism of not having a centralized notification center always put some people off from migrating from other platforms to WP. Action center is very well thought of. There are 4 options on top for quick toggling which are customizable and are up to the user to chose.

For me, even if Microsoft had released an update containing just these features, I would have been blown away. For me, the cake is baked. Microsoft has been really kind and put a cherry on top of that. Yes, Cortana. I did not expect it to be here this soon. Surely the rumours were up and numerous leaks showed Cortana up and running, but I just did not believed it. And I am completely head over heels now with Cortana on my homescreen.

So, is it any good? Does it stand amongst the likes of SIri and Google Now? Well, yes, sort of. Siri is a massively updated feature from Apple and is trillion times better than it was when it first released. Google Now, is, well, Google. Cortana is as good as anyone. Probably better than Siri, but definitely not better than Google Now. I say this, not based on the functionality, but on the basis of speech recognition. Siri and Cortana are primarily for users with an american or a british accent. Indian accent, not quiet accurate. Where Google takes all the points is it’s amazing accuracy to recognise the Indian accent (including names). Full points for that. Cortana is terrible at picking up Indian names. But that is excusable, since it is Microsoft’s first foray into voice based assistant on phones.

Cortana does an impresive job in almost every task given to it. It’s not 100% good, but it’s reasonably well. Probably almost on the same level as Siri. Setting up alarms, reminders, appointments, making calls, texts, emails, fooling around. It does it pretty well. The little animations too are very cool. And mind you, it’s just a beta version. So, I am hoping for a further improved performance once it comes out in full version. And since I am a Microsoft fanboy, Cortana gets the nod ahead of Siri in standings. So, it stands like:

1) Google NOW

2) Cortana

3) Siri

Lastly, the swipe feature on the keyboard. You’ll have to use it to believe it. It is astonishingly accurate and fast. God bless the people at Redmond for coding a tremendous piece of feature addon. I’ve used it for just three days and now I cant type on my phone. Just slide and get the job done.

So that’s about it. As far as notable features are concerned, this is it. Microsoft has done a tremendous tremendous job at overhauling the OS and made it stand among the clutter of Android devices. In terms of looks, Windows phone shines  (expect if you happen to have a M8, that piece is master art!). For all of you who have a windows phone but have not downloaded the Windows 8.1 update yet, I recommend you to do it. This is however a Developer’s preview, so you have to go through a couple of extra steps to get it on your phone. But believe me, its totally worth it.

Here is the link you need to follow to get the WP 8.1. Go on, enjoy!

 http://www.wpcentral.com/windows-phone-81-now-available

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