Massive Windows Phone 8.1 feature-list gets detailed, including Quiet Hours, Office Lens and more

The Windows Phone 8.1 SDK is the gift that keeps on giving. Today, we’ve already had confirmation about background images for the Start screen, which have yet to be fully revealed, and yesterday we had a big roundup as well.

This afternoon, developers Jeremy Sinclair (@sinclairinator) and Jesse Leskinen (@jessenic) have put together the bullet lists to end all bullet lists. Their info comes from MUI strings direct from the SDK, so they are subject to change upon final release. What’s interesting about this list is the sheer number of little things that we had suspected, but not yet confirmed in Windows Phone 8.1.

It should be clear that 8.1 is, in many ways, a complete overhaul of the OS from top to bottom, not just a few big features. That’s important because what you’re about to read below demonstrates just how busy the dev team has been to build upon the groundwork laid down with Windows Phone 8, back in late 2012.

Windows Phone 8.1 new feature changes (subject to change upon RTM)

  • Sharing secured WI-Fi Networks with contacts if they have Wi-Fi Sense. They don’t get to see the shared password though
  • Social notifications will now show up in Action Center by swiping from the top of the screen
  • Operators can now control Data Sense limits remotely
  • Operators can also install certain applications once a SIM card is detected
  • Along with normal updates, there are now “important” updates.
  • Options to always download emails and pictures within them
  • Encrypted and signed e-mail support
  • Change default SMS app. You can also change which SMS app will show notifications.
  • Enterprise enrolled phones can have their passwords changed and remotely locked
  • “Write, when I swipe through letters”. That should be self-explanatory
  • Geofence monitoring support. Geofence is a boundary around a place of interest to you. Location services can monitor geofences to tell your apps when you’re entering and leaving them. This would be really good for IFTTT
  • Office Lens support. Will scan in documents and screens
  • The phone will have to update to the latest version before you can restore it to factory settings
  • Option to update store apps automatically
  • Option to update store apps when only on Wi-Fi
  • App Suggestions by location
  • Manual Update checks
  • Password protected Office document support
  • Trusted app list for NFC that will remove the need for asking whether you want to open a particular app.
  • In-call speech commands. You’ll be able to say “Call XXXXXX”.
  • Double-Tap to unlock your phone (Feature from Lumia devices on Amber Update and newer)
  • Quiet Hours
  • Double Tap to Power Off
  • Notification if charger isn’t of adequate power
  • Screenshot button combination is now Power + Volume Up
  • Chkdsk for SD Cards essentially
  • Apps on SD Cards are only allowed from ONE originating phone. If it detects that apps from another phone are installed on the SD Card, then it will ask to delete those first
  • Voice Narrator for Accessibility
  • The Search button will be the new way to open Speech instead of the Start button (Since the newer phones will have the start button on screen)
  • New Email sync options with accordance to usage patterns (i.e. If you get a lot of mail on particular days and if you don’t check mail every day).
  • Change the size and amount of tiles on your start screen.
  • Wallet supports tickets and membership cards
  • App Syncing
  • Backups now include application data (ABOUT TIME)
  • Screen Reader functionality (Maybe Text-To-Speech for apps?)
  • Screen Recording functionality
  • Inner Circle of contacts. Up to 40 contacts can be in the inner circle.
  • You can favorite photos by tapping a heart icon
  • Virtual SmartCard support

We should caution that not everything listed in the SDK will make it to the final build of Windows Phone 8.1, but at the very least, you get an idea of what Microsoft is attempting. Likewise, how these features will exactly work is yet to be seen. 

Some of the features listed above we have reported in our other articles detailing the 8.1 SDK leak. But many of them are new. Quiet Hours was something we mentioned back in Mach 2013 as expected for Windows Phone 8.1. Now that seems to be the case. Quiet Hours refers to a set period of time where a user won't be bothered by Notifications. Perfect for your bedtime. The Windows Phone version is expected to reflect the current layout in Windows 8.1.

Do Not Disturb/Quiet Hours found in Settings

Other additions like downloading of email images automatically, auto-app updates, disabling NFC confirmations, are just little things that helps those using Windows Phone 8.1 much more fluid.

Interestingly enough, it looks like Nokia is putting back into Windows Phone with the inclusion of double-tap to wake into the OS. There is also reportedly now double-tap to power off, which should be an interesting flipside to the current implementation.

Coming to all Windows Phones?

Office Lens support sounds like a HandyScan feature where you can take a photo of a document and import it into Office, leveraging both Lens and built in Office features. Combined with the robust Enterprise and VPN pack, that should give Windows Phone an edge for business. Update - more info from the SDK on this feature

“Download the Office Lens which scans whiteboards and documents directly in the camera as a Windows Phone Lens. The Office Lens lets you scan whiteboards, documents, and more with your phone’s camera, then optimizes the images so they’re clear and easy to read in your notes.”

“Write, when I swipe through letters” appears to be a reference to the new swipe keyboard option in 8.1. Some users have taken this to mean a Swype keyboard, as in the popular Android application and/or support for third party keyboards. However, that is not the case. Instead, it’s an augmentation of the stock keyboard where users can drag their finger to type, giving users an optional method of input.

Microsoft appears to be delivering a massive update this spring, appeasing many people who lamented that Windows Phone was too feature limited or didn’t allow customization. With this list and the rest of the features mentioned in our coverage, we have a feeling that story is about to change.

From a historical perspective, this update looks more like Windows Phone 7.5 Mango, with its famous 500-new bundled features.

Which features so far are your favorite? Let us know below.

Source: Sinclairinat0r; Thanks, Jesse, for the heads up and Alessandro S. for the DnD screenshot


Reader comments

Massive Windows Phone 8.1 feature-list gets detailed, including Quiet Hours, Office Lens and more



I hate him. He is ruining it for the Microsoft WP team. He is taking the stage and stealing their thunder. Microsoft needs to differentiate between "building a buzz" and "shut up and ship" approach. They are doing the right thing by building the buzz but on the other hand don't seem to have many "wow features" to shut up and ship anymore. Yeah Cortana. That's it.

Understand your sentiment.  Microsoft should have waited a bit longer before releasing the SDK.


I will however bring out the popcorn if Microsoft doesn't rlelease every single leak that's been revealed - there will be lots of tears by these WP fans on this site.

Out of whatever "developers" who do have SDK, I am sure the past suggsts only 10 apps will be blue-ready. Everyone else has just been busy leaking stuff.

I don't know why that picture is so funny to me because it really is not and will really be disappointing if it happens. As your comment suggests, they should really be busy working on their apps instead of finding things to leak.

No, they need devs out there building apps w these new features, they should just announce them pre release

Rock... I agree with you, I would have liked MS to have held a lot of this back to deliver their own punch. Reveals are good, but I am just dying for my OS of choice to deliver something that the tech sites have to acknowledge is great. It would be a shame if all the bigger features have now been leaked.

I sort of agree but remember not everyone using or interested in Windows Phone will be following as closely as us technical junkies will. It will be great news to them when they hear the official announcement as well as to MS partners who are waiting for a drop like this to build Windows Phone phone as well as Windows Phone apps. That's my take on it anyway.

Not necessarily. I think it's at least a possibility Microsoft purposefully restrained themselves with this SDK release (knowing the NDA would inevitably be violated), and the biggest features (and not just Cortana) have yet to be revealed.

Microsoft has never done that. I think this might indeed be everything, or even too much and they might bring some of these features in a next update (Windows Phone 8.2 or Windows Phone 9). Don't get your hopes too high or you will be sad.

Well normally, from what I've seen anyway, there are other features that aren't leaked or shown to the public that you will only find out about once the update is rolled out. Typically though some of the best stuff is leaked, which sucks, because it really takes away the "wow" factor lol.

Yes and No.

Yes because they kind of ruined the buzz

No because it took them way too long to come with this list of new features. The GDR updates are nice but are nowhere near as nice as the normal platform updates. I just don't get why MS didn't release an update in 2013. Seems like a big mistake. So yeah, let these features leak just to let potential customers know that their most wanted features are indeed coming to the platform.

They should've released the SDK with the stuff that the developers required and not more than that. Quiet Hours is not something Devs need to develop for 8.1 so there's no need to add this now.

While i like and love the platform, developing it and adding new features is taking way too long, so any positive news on that end is great. This is totally MS its own fault and they should be penalized for it.

Dude, really? Background images are so 1980s

Like cassette tape, or physical media. Do you still pay for MP3s?!

Let the iPhone and Android tards have their cluttered ugly screen, and you rejoice with your brothers in your elegant, clean, non chintzy screen showing real and useful info.

I understand people wanting it as an option, but putting as much emphasis on it as there has been lately is straight up ridiculous.

You don't need to be so negative and elitist. And yes I mostly buy physical media and if I can't, then I buy mp3s. Its not an 80s thing.

I would expect it to be more like the Windows 8.1 and Windows RT static Start Screen Backgrounds which are more like patterns than normal wallpaper you would have on the desktop.

Exactly.. How would this work?... I could see plain colors, or textures, but unless MS gave us a transparent tile option.... Wait, that's it❕ They need to put a transparent tile option in theme colors... Think about that.. A transparent theme.. That would open up the option to have images in the background in other areas.. That would be a good option for those who would want to use it..

Depends on the implementation, giving the tiles some gray / theme color while still largely transparent, would allow text to be clear and backgrounds to be visible. Unless you mean transparent as in "Skinery transparent", then you are right. Also, it would be an option, and if the user wants to mess up legibility to get background images, let them.

Would like this as an option. May or may not keep it but just adds another aspect to personalise my screen, imho.

Your tiles will block 95% of whatever image you put up in the background.. Unless your tiles are transparent (which i don't prefer). Besides i don't think you can put custom images like pics from your gallery (if they make it scrollable) as these photos will have to stretch to fit the vertically infinite start screen. What type of backgrounds would you want on your WP?
if MS allows pinned tile colour customisation like in skinery themes the start screen backgrounds will have some use.

.......how infinite is this actually.....shall i try putting tiles down one side for an hour or two andreveal my findings later? :P

not 95%. it can be 0% when you unpin all the tiles on the start screen. It's your options to be 95%.

It would make sense to make the background photo non-scrollable because if you had, say, 300 apps pinned to the start screen, you would need an incredibly long and detailed photo to compensate lol. It would look ridiculous

Or you could have the background image fade to a color (like in Sailfish) during two or three "screen heights", after which the background would be single color (they could make it always fade to black to make things easy). I doubt many people have much more than two screens worth of tile pinned anyways as it becomes unwieldy.

That's actually a cool idea to fade it based on depth into your list. But I still think its unnecessary for my liking.

And as you may know by now, what I like is all that matters. So I told them not to put it in. ;-)

But really though that's a cool idea!

"Vertically infinite" tiles, not Start Screen/background pic. The tiles are floating in space and we move the tiles up and down over the image behind/beneath them.

So a normal static image could work for a background to the tiles.

I don't like the idea myself, I use the lock screen for my personal image. I feel the tile animations flying in would look ugly with a bunch of other stuff in the background.


Backgrounds will be fine if MS restricts them to their own designs. Much like Windows 8 (not 8.1) when you could only have the metro backgrounds

Had to be done to allow for virtual start button. I expect RT to have to change at some point, too.

I would really like the auto app update like in win 8.1.
alot easier just won't know when an app updates unless it tells you it did.

About the time to merge RT and Windows Phone OSes. I was interested in gettng offline OCR support, which we have now. Not sure if devs will get its support in SDK.

Looking great for Windows Phone 8.1 so far. :D
Just one thing, what exactly does VPN support imply.? Can we expect Hotspot Shield any time soon.? :P

The screenshot that I saw shows that VPN apps can be installed. So maybe there needs to a Hotspot Shield app developed by AnchorFree.

Hmm...given my experience of Android, I really hope not... Those app update notifications were utterly infuriating :(

... Especially since some devs can't seem to figure out updating more often than once every couple weeks is annoying. Every little bug fix doesn't need its own update. Bundle them.

And you will be reading thinks like "minor changes, general improvements" and so forth all over again :)

Well, it is common sense that you inform users about changes. I'm doing it in app description (and in-app) as most devs are, but that shouldn't be mandatory. Change log would just bulk up app submission process. And even with that, you would still get automatic logs like general improvement and such.

The last thing that MS needs to do right now is start giving developers more rules to abide by...... Think about it

I'm concerned about operators being able to set datasense remotely. I'd rather not have At&t, or Verizon dictating if my phone should try and conserve data or not...

No, they are not. I control Data Sense, set the allotted amount of data and verify which apps use it.

The one I don't like is operators being able to install certain apps automatically when a SIM card is detected. The wording makes it sound like it could apply to any device, not just ones branded to that specific carrier.

I think that is good, if the app is for account management only. Id i travel and get a local sim, installation of the right account management app would be perfect.

At&t would have to allow data sense on their WP devices first before they can control them, but I agree, that and the sim app install are two features that sour things up to me.

+925. Much as this sounds nasty to me, I wonder if the flip side is this is a trade for no more carrier approval for OS updates. Yeah, I know, fat chance...

I'm yet to even read the article, but I already know everything is going to be awesome. April can't come soon enough.

Yes! What does he mean by Start Button on the screen, so now I have to use another button. Wtf?

Hey Daniel, can you dig around to find out more about that whole "FB blue" stuff going around? I'm ASSUMING the FB integration will remain, but it will operate like it currently does on W8.1.
I can't see how making it more app dependent could be a better soltion.

Hopefully it means developers of apps plug in to the people hub, rather than built-in. I love the people hub but would love more providers, so this would be a good way to accommodate that without requiring an OS update to add one.

For one - it can be independently updated and given new features unlike current People Hub where you can't like comments, can't tag people in comments, can't delete comments etc - all these came to Facebook slowly after 2010 when People Hub was baked into the OS. It needs OS change to reflect integrated stuff but by having integrated apps, you let apps update own its own and hence integrate more features. All Microsoft need to do from WP8.5 and WP9.0 onwards is give more ways to integrate.

Yeah, so it's not as easy to update because it's baked into the OS compared to an app, but it's certainly not impossible and to me it's really frustrating that they haven't been able to do so in the last couple years. I love being able to see people hub groups social updates in one place (twitter and Facebook updates for my closest friends for example that I don't look at the Facebook or twitter apps often enough to catch.). I am assuming that this great feature will also go away. Sigh.

Or may be any app that wants to add to your People Hub will be now able to do so without Microsoft having to update the OS. Example - may be if like Facebook Blue, we have other social network update their apps, you can have Twitter, LinkedIn, Skype, Path, Instagram, Pinterest, Vine - all in your People Hub if you want. How cool is that?

Same way - may be Skype, Whatsapp, WeChat, Viber, HeyWire, Telegram, if update their apps to blue, can all be under "messaging hub" without Microsoft opting in to add them in OS update.

This is the goal of this feature... To make them apps, not integrated features. But I think there will be   apps with resident parts, not Live tile's 30-minutes refresh via external connection to allow the push notifications. If they make this, the need for integration will be dimnished. Like a service in Win32. If they do alloy third party developers to make such things it will be a more like a desktop Windows. This will be great (and risky, of course - they must run outside of the kernel security ring)!

I agree - I would like to hear more about what's happening with People Hub. I use it all the time with Twitter integration.

Actually I need to upload photos directly and should be shown as 'via windows phone'. That is my favorite option in wp. What do you think?

So excited.. Didn't expect that much for 8.1 actually, I guess they'll be pushing 9 much later than I expected

From the sound of it, they could easily call this Windows Phone 9. But they want to keep the numbering in sync with Windows...

Windows NT 7.0 is Windows 9 series and 64-bit only!

NT 7.0 RTM around fall 2015

Let's hope there could be one more upgrade for us 32-bit devices aka Windows 8.2

No on both, unless you want Windows 9 to be Windows Vista 2. Windows 9 will just stick with the Windows NT 6 branding, more precise: Windows NT 6.4. Otherwise, we're going into another 3 years of driver problems. Most likely, Windows 9 will be available in 32-bit too, after all, Windows is now also a tablet OS and tablets are most of the time 32-bit devices. It's not like the desktop where Windows 7 and onwards made 64-bits the defacto. Tablets are still running most of the time on 32-bit.

NT 7.0 (9) is NOT 64bit only.   On the desktop Microsoft may further push 64bit as the primary install, but they are already doing this with Windows 8.


NT's codebase is virtually identical from x86 to x64 to ARM to ARMv8 64bit.  This is how NT is designed, as it uses the HAL for architectural differences. Microsoft has NO NEED to lock themselves to x64 or any other architecture - it is far to easy to support several architectures with NT. The only problems have been in upper applications later software, and that virtually disappeared with Windows 7, and with new frameworks like Silverlight/WinRT/etc, the underlying architecture is completely irrelevant.


Server being x64 only was for SECURITY and managing large data sets - both which are key for a server.


same applications on wp blow battery much more than ios or andriod os..especially lumia 1020 battery life just crap.hope fix it with wp8.1..

Then that's the apps/developers fault not your phones fault. If only some apps drain the battery like hell, then it seems pretty obvious whose fault it is.

Dude, EVERY app I use that it web based, or a messenger of some sort kills my battery. And I have a 520 too, and while it doesn't heat up as much the battery goes almost as fast. Maybe it is the fault of the developers, but I've never heard of an iPhone pocket heater. Look at my history and you'll see this is a reoccurring problem for me. Please let me be wrong then I don't have to have my battery destroyed within a few hours each day. This isn't just a piss poor app like Kik, Facebook, or Skype, but WeChat, Viber, Whatsapp, TextPlus, twitter, Tumblr, Das Image, even WPcentral does it! It's very difficult for me to believe it's the developer fault..

I have the 1520 and better life is amazing. Did you mean it's those apps you mentioned that kill your app or other ones? If you use the same crappy coded apps on different phones, expect to have crappy battery life on any phone you install them. My 1020 also had pretty good battery life so I find it hard to believe that the OS sucks at managing battery life.

iPhones and Android have the same heating and battery issues with several of the Apps you mentioned. 


This is NOT a WP problem, in fact, the one App that is horrible on all three platforms that you mention, impacts the battery less on WP than iOS or Android.

Battery management is better on WP than iOS and Android. Apps can't keep your phone up all the time. You can schedule background tasks to start with and that schedule only runs every 30 minutes IF you allow the app to run in background. Also it only runs for seconds every 30 minutes and if it can't download everything new, it skips, sleeps and does the rest next time it wakes up.

Dude, seriously, Windows Phone sips battery way more effectively than iOS or Android.

What is the application that is giving you trouble, name names?

This is the fault of a few select apps, not the OS or your device.

Personally, my Lumia 1020 always lasts a minimum of 18 hours (assuming I'm not playing graphic intense games), but it often can last a fair 22-24 hours. Hell, on days where I don't touch my phone much at all, it can last as high as 36 hours. I've also gone two times where it last 40 hours.

The Lumia 1020, and Windows Phone as a whole, is a battery champion. I've never seen such an efficient OS, and it always irritates my iOS and Android buddies. So the fault lies with those apps. Either block their background services (in the phone settings), or uninstall them.

Finally: search button starts TellMe voice search instead of start button doing it. I always kept doing it that way... It just made much more sense. Small change, but a great one.

Sadly still no mention of printer support... Also Microsoft needs to change what search button does. Instead of taking you to bing it should search in whatever app your using. It could be used to bing while on start screen, but in store it should open up search dialog to search what is in store instead of bringing up bing.

Boo to those simpletons, ruining a perfectly implemented function. Now instead we have little search buttons scattered everywhere. Same with Windows 8.1.

It wasn't simpletons that ruined it, it was inconsistencies. In one app, the button would search in-app while in another app it would search Bing. That's what killed it.

Then you'll have to downgrade to Windows Phone 7 NoDo, that's the last version of Windows Phone that had it working like that.

I also liked the contextual nature, just as Windows 8 used. But people never 'got it'.  Instead the Search in Windows 8.1 is 'richer' allowing Apps to plug back into the general search, which in the end works better for non-tech users.


Windows 8.1's Bing/Search is rather good, especially as it contracts into existing Apps and searches across services.


I dunno why this statement concerns me........

  • Operators can also install certain applications once a SIM card is detected.

Sounds like AT&T will have the ability to load this crapware on my WP8 device automatically?  :-(

Only if I buy a branded one. I don't plan on buying any more branded phones now that I have a subsidy-free plan.

@Eric, this is brilliant if you think about it. Say you're traveling abroad, you pop in a SIM card, you now get that operator's custom software for your device instead of hunting for it in the Store.

As mentioned by blackhawk556, you can just uninstall whatever. But it's certainly useful if SIM swapping.

This is a pretty good point.  I'm just concerned that the malicious morons at ATT will make the SIM either not work without certain software, or they'll make it continuously reload the software on my device.  Sort of like they do with iOS and Android (without root/jailbreak).  :-)

I wouldn't be surprised if they did. Its their own software. I'm pretty sure they're getting pretty pissed at people not using their crap so if they do make the app automatically reloadable they'll be pretty proud of themselves.

No it's not brilliant, it sucks. It better be uninstallable and hopefully disableable. Putting an operator section in the store is enough, I don't want to have to install then uninstall AT&T shitware. 

I don't plan on buying any more branded garbage phones. I don't want ANY AT&T shit on my phone anymore. 

This feature already exists.  When I was in Italy with my Lumia 900, I had a Vodafone SIM.  In the settings menu there was a Sim Card Applications page that listed all the apps made available by Vodafone Italy on the SIM card.  They ran from the SIM directly.

This is different. Those SIM applications are small applets that run on the SIM card's processor. 

What this is proposing is when WP detects a new SIM card it'll see which carrier it belongs to and then automatically install that carrier's apps. I would hate that. 

If this is what it'll take for carriers to give more support to WP, I'll take... as long as it can be uninstalled.

Hey, remember that you can easily remove stuff on Windows Phone if you don't like it. Plus it will make carriers happier and more likely to push the devices

We can only hope for market share!  I'm actually really sort of ok with the idea of them porting Android apps to WP8.  Maybe if the designers see how many people are using their "Android" app on "WP8", they'll be more incentivized to design exclusive apps.  :-)

Well said. If without modification my Android app will just work on WP8, why would I bother developing a separate WP8 app?

Doesn't sound like that would be a motivating factor. Why would anyone put in time and effort into building another app when they can build an android app and be done with it. 

The only way I can see this working is if the android apps have an expiration date. In that case Windows store would give the option to the developer to use the android app as a stop gap feature until they develop the WP app. It would also show the developers that there is interest on the platform.

Maybe this will reduce the number of variants i.e. eliminate carrier variants and use SIM checking instead.

We can't wait anymore, I want Cortana, I love that double tap to sleep feature...lol I'm loving all those features that I'm hearing so far.

I think I won't be able to sleep until this update hits our phones. I just hope there will be a developer preview. If not, I'm considering hibernation until it gets released.

Alright. Enough. I have had it. Stop teasing us and GIMME NAAAAAWWW

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Yeah, it is also awkward currently. I can never remember how to do it. Power button for a screen shot just don't make no sense worth nuthin. I would think the camera button should play a part in it as you're kind of taking a picture and the image ends up in the pictures hub.

I know right ? I have a 920 too, and I started imagining how will it feel like. One word : AWKWARD

Because the windows button will be virtual. The power and volume are physical keys that do not affect the screen.

The things I'm anticipating the most are the action center and the notification center really. Along with all the minor tweaks here and there, 8.1 will really catch up with android and iOS. To be completely honest the thing I was expecting is an overhaul to the apps themselves. I want cleaner apps with faster performance.