Upcoming Windows Phone 8.1 features exposed in latest reports, detailing Cortana and more

Microsoft has successfully packaged and released Update 3 for Windows Phone 8, leaving only the 8.1 update, aka ‘Blue’, on the table for shipping. Expected to be reveled at Build 2014 in April, Windows Phone Central understands that 'M3' (Milestone 3), the escrow period and RTM dates have already been locked into place by Microsoft.

Today, The Verge has added to the story by detailing some new information to features already expected for the landmark release.

In an article published this morning, Tom Warren goes into more detail over the notification center and ‘Cortana’ the Siri-like personal assistant.

According to the report, a short swipe from the top will reveal ‘quick settings’ to quickly access common function and we can add that there will be four tabs as well. A longer swipe will bring up a full notification history.

On Cortana, the voice assistant program, the report mentions how it will learn location context and data from the phone, in addition to replacing Bing as the default search. It can also remind you of meetings with much more detail than the current system of alarms on Windows Phone 8.

Other features mentioned in the report that are coming to Windows Phone 8.1

  • Separate volume controls for ringtone volume and media playback (it won’t be on a per app basis, but rather system wide)
  • VPN support for enterprise users
  • Bing Smart Search results, similar to what is found on Windows 8.1 today
  • Xbox Music and Xbox Video will be separate apps, removed from the OS core to enable faster, more dynamic updates for users
  • Deeper integration into the People Hub for Twitter and Facebook

In addition to the new OS features, there are two new handsets from Nokia being prepped for launch ‘Goldfinger’ and ‘Moneypenny’. The former will pack a “3D Touch system”, allowing users to interact with the device without touching the display, while the latter will have those newly revealed on-screen buttons for Back, Windows and Cortana.

We understand that ‘Goldfinger’ will have “cutting edge technology” and it is considered to be the next flagship Windows Phone.

Even more on Windows Phone 8.1

Other features Windows Phone Central can exclusively reveal that are either coming to Windows Phone 8.1 or that are actively being worked on include micro SD card support for installing apps and games. This feature is especially important for low-cost devices, like the Lumia 520, where internal storage is limited to just 8 GB (and less than 5 GB actually available).

In terms of the notification center, we can reveal that they work even on the Lockscreen. The Lockscreen can still be swiped up like normal to unlock the phone, but in Windows Phone 8.1 you can also swipe down to go directly to the new Notification Center.

The default camera app is also being updated, with buttons and functions similar to the Windows 8.1 camera app, though these will be located on the left side of the viewfinder.

First-party Tiles, like Email, can be swiped towards the left to clear the Live Tile of notifications/counts. Currently, users can swipe from the Right to bring up the full app list for the OS, but swiping left will clear any Tiles without the user having to open the program directly in 8.1. As of now, this feature is only open to first-party functions like Email and the People Hub, though presumably Microsoft could open it up to developers via an API.

‘Cortana’ voice assistant is very contextual, meaning it will be woven throughout the OS and it will work based on information on-screen. For example, say a text message is sent that states "Want to get dinner tomorrow in New York?" you'll see parts of that text message underlined. Click that and you'll be able to instantly enter the info into your calendar with some of those fields already populated e.g. it would fill "New York" as the location. If the message had the time it will already have the time in there as well.

Ghost notifications, we’ve previously mentioned in an earlier article. How they work is that for something like a "Like" on Facebook or a "favorite" on Twitter don't warrant a full Toast notification, alerting the user. Instead, ghost notifications just go straight to the Notification Center and don't overtly notify you. This feature will be open to developers, we are told.

Windows Phone 8.1 is shaping up to be a significant update for Microsoft. Current Windows Phone 8 devices are expected to be able to update to the 8.1 OS, though when that will happen it is not known. Microsoft's Build 2014 developer conference will take place on April 2-4 in San Francisco, where the first major update for Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 are likely to be announced. Developer previews of those updates may also be available at that time as well, similar to the current Update 3 Preview program.

Source: The Verge, Windows Phone Central

Daniel Rubino
Editor-in-chief

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

588 Comments
  • Awesome.
  • Separate volume controls! FINALLY!
  • this excites me
  • Goldfinger is probably the 920 successor!
  • Then what is the 929
  • The 928 successor
  • From what I understand the 929 was developed seperately purely for Verizon and won't be offered to anyone else anywhere globally. So a seperate product skew and not a successor to anything really.
  • The successor to the 920 is the 1020 and the successor to the 1020 is the 1520.... Really... Get with the program dude!
  • Not really sure that is true. It seems the 1520 is on parallell with the 1020. Being flagships of their respective categories. Standard size smartphone VS Aircraft carrier sized smartphone :) The 1020 still has the better camera..
  • The 1020 and 1520 are not followups to the 920.  One is a phablet and the other is a 920 with a super camera on the back.  The successor to the 920 will be the 930.
  • This
  • I hate that everyone says the 1020 is a 920 with a better camera, that's sooo ignorant, the 1020 has a amoled screen instead of LCD, 2gigs of system memory instead of just 1, the physical button build and feedback is much improved, it has more microphones with better noise cancellation, improved vibration motor and a ton of other major improvements under the hood that I don't have the time to explain here like redesigned PCB! The gap between the 820 and 920 is smaller then the 920 and 1020! So YES the 1020 is the successor to the 920... That's why NOKIA calls it a frikkin 1020!!! The same goes for the 1520!
  • Mmm, no I don't think so. I consider the amoled and lack of wireless charging as downgrades. It's apparent since 1520 went back to LCD. Also the 2 gigs of memory don't improve performance at all. In fact 1020 scores marginally worse than 920 in benchmarks. The successor will be 930, 940, or 950 I'd bet.
  • That's completely wrong..
  • Totally worth waiting if all these reports are true ..!!! Damn cool that i chose wp over android . :)
  • Made a good choice there bro! Good to hear your happy with WP... Myself... Won't ever look back! Lumia all the way baby!!
  • I second that notion :) I just bought a Lumia 521 and trashed my crappy Android phone (of which I had originally paid double what I just paid for the Lumia). I loved it so much, that I bought 2 more for friends of mine... both of them say it's the best phone they've ever had!
  • I simply can't even use Android after using Windows Phone. iOS 7 is the only iOS I like too. Only thing I would get Google related is a Chromebook (because of the price and I'm always connected to Internet.) And even then, I would prefer Windows 8. I mean come on, METRO IS SO BEAUTIFUL.
  • +920, that and EAP-TLS support are probably top two features i'm waiting for now if whatsapp also releases speach support in 2014 it'll be perfect!   someone post the "it's happening" gif
  • there we go :)   my body is ready
  • shut up and take my money?
  • Being waiting EAP-TLS for more than a Year.  MicroSlow really knows the speed of the mobile business.
  • I think they should also introduce a sound balance option for people who have slightly impaired hearing.
  • I like !!!
  • I wonder if we'll finally be able to fully mute the phone.
  • You know you can, go into settings, ring tone, and there are two "switches" that let you turn on and off both sound, and vibration. If you turn off vibrate, the shortcut setting when you press the volume button will switch between ring and silent, and if vibration is on, then it will switch between vibrate and ring + vibrate.
  • Thx.
  • I'm excited too, but are we the laughing stock of phone OS' because at this point in phone technology, we have to wait for this feature til next year? Ughh
  • Dude, if you really know people who laugh at you over that, then you probably need to know new people.
  • Not to mention any amount of research could have been applied so that he didn't purchase the phone in the first place thereby removing the concern of being mocked by his peers.
  • Wow, what a dumb assumption. I bet you're still stick on WP7, still whining about the lack of support.
  • Finally.... And only after 3 years or so.... Go Microsoft...
  • I know. I feel like they are still just trying to play catch up. Don't get me wrong, they have some nice features that iOS doesn't have and they don't far apart like Android but there are plenty of functionality being added in this update that should have been there already. I've had a Windows Phone since day one released with WP7, but it just seems like until they can play catch up with certain things/feature, they won't be able to fully fight for dominance in the mobile industry especially in the US where the market is very convuluted.
  • Totally. It's right now, just a game of catch up. Only thing I have seen people have a problem with on Windows Phone is that my nephew got one, L520, and my sister put his actual age on there, and forgot to set up a parent account before hand. Only a matter of time until Apple and other companies actually realize that Nokia is an amazing phone maker. Imagine if Nokia made a full fledged Android phone? Nokia and Samsung would go at it.
  • THE BEST PHONE MAKER dude...the BEST
  • Nokia X, let's see how that works as an Android device.
  • apple iphone est 2007, WP EST 2010. And we are almost caught up in (REAL) apps, already there in build quality, and almost there OS wise.
    covered alot more ground in many less years.and we have 41 mp tech, glance, and soon, the coolest voice assistant. Buy stock in MS.
  • Yep, we've been advocating for that feature for so long. Glad Microsoft finally got the hint. :)
  • That is amazing
  • I asked for help here and my comment was deleted :(
  • Again! :-P
  • ha ha !! u again...will anyone here with a HTC 8x (Tmobile) help me out
  • Not sure what you need help with but your best bet would be to ask for support in the forums. I got lots of help there when I had 8X problems earlier in the year.
  • Why would you ask for help in the comments of a news article? That's what forums are for.
  • I am sorry but no one ever visits them and i dont get any response
  • Dude you posted in a thread that is almost a year old, and it doesn't appear that you read the original post. He says (in caps) "STOCK, NON CARRIER BRANDED ROM for the 8X". So, no, his solution mentioned 10 months ago will not work for your carrier branded phone. You could also try PM'ing the OP.
  • look at the swipe to left gesture!! that so cool! i hope MS allows other apps to use this one too.
  • Heck yeah! Christ, if this is all true and turns up next year I might actually cry. I have my wallet ready!!! Go Microsoft!
  • Any bets on when AT&T customers will actually get this?  2014 seems out of the question.
  • I'm sure we will see this in 2015. I like that we finally get a notification center. Cortana is legit considering its/her history.
  • I cannot wait. Finally Microsoft is bridging the gap. Big yay for following. Quick Settings Notification Center Separate volume controls for ringtone volume and media playback (it won’t be on a per app basis, but rather system wide) VPN support for enterprise users Deeper integration into the People Hub for Twitter and Facebook
  • Does anyone know if GDR3 has been released for the Nokia Lumia 521 for T-Mobile? I haven't received the update yet. I'm running Nokia Amber currently
  • Have it on my 521 through the dev preview.
  • I don't think it has, but you can easily sign up for the Microsoft Developer program and download it. I too run it on my Lumia 521 and it works like a charm.
  • 20 seconds on Nokia's website produced this: "The Lumia Black update (bundled with GDR3 of Windows Phone 8) will be made available in early 2014. No other details have been made available as of yet."
  • Official GDR3 for all Nokia Lumia's will launch with the Lumia Black update, sometime until February.
  • Thanks everyone for the heads up on the update.
  • It hasn't been released "officially" (as in including the Black firmware) to any Nokia phone yet (just the HTC 8X from what I've seen), which makes sense because Nokia brings the Black firmware too, so that much extra work. :)
  • Hey Freak (sorry -could not help myself), I suppose it could have been a coincidence and my Lumia 1020 just happened to update the moment I un-installed the Windows Phone under Device Management, but I think that's unlikely. So, it's worth trying: With Lumia connected to your Surface Pro 2 - make sure Auto-Update is temporarily disabled so you can "see" it if it becomes a available Go to Dervice Mgr and remove "Windows Phone" - Restart PC/Tablet Verify Windows Phone is back in Device Mgr-disconnect phone. If update notification doesn't appear, restart device. That worked for me and I got my GDR3 Update for my Lumia 1020 – would like to hear if it works.
  • Cool stuff coming. Hope there will be more...but kinda don't want this to be leaked, i love surprises :D :D
  • LOL I'm the same I want to know but also love surprises when I get OS updates.
  • I say leak it all! You can keep your surprise by not reading the article. I want to know as much as possible as soon as possible so I can make decisions.
  • What's the difference... Just let the leaks surprise you LOL!!!
  • Ohh...come on, you can't be so impatient,all those leaks harm more than do good to the platform, if there will be something available only for WP, something new and impressive and will get leaked let's say half a year before availability, those leaks will do good only to competition. I can understand why all you guys love leaks, i love them too, but i  was just reffering to the fact that not all stuff needs to be leaked, so one can have time and mature it's proposal before competition catch up.
  • You are making my impatience worse! Arg. I hope Att started "testing" 8.1 months ago so its ready soon after build...
  • I hope my ATIV S will get this update. :)
  • I'm sure it will. I would not be surprised if Samsung decided to release a flagship device that takes advantage of the gesture controls mentioned. Seems right up their alley.
  • Its hardware is capable, so I don't see why not!
  • With you there, brother. I've got one too. If this is true, yeah , I think I'll jump over the moon. Especially love that I'll be able to put apps on my sd card. Love everything else too. Just wondering if it will actually come to Windows Phone 8, read on a website that it wouldn't.
  • That sounds great. Especially for Xbox music :)
  • Exactly!!
  • Indeed, I can't wait for XB music to be decoupled from the OS. They need to update it like every month because it's in a disgraceful state right now. Zune worked better in WP7 and the fact that the WP8 app for Win8 doesn't even sync properly... well, it's embarrasing.
  • Zune just worked better, period. Lol
  • I still have my Lumia 900 and one of the things keeping me from upgrading is the horrible disgrace that is XB Music.  I'm still enjoying wireless sync and other features of Zune software!!
  • Finally, the world has been so quiet on WP 8.1 that I thought it died!
  • Everyone has know for some time it was due Q2 2014. You need to be punished. Please read WP Central _every day_ until you are more enlightened! Do it for 365 days, then you have served your sentence ;)
  • Haha I love how they keep using that shambolic leak photo for these updates ;)
  • Yeah the pic has become a real call to arms, fire up the troops!
  • Let the excitrment begin. Cant wait to load this on my 1520 :)
  • Sounds like the TITS!!!!
  • Daniel, why do you keep deleting my comments?
  • Just the stupid ones, no worries.
  • Lmao!
  • Should have deleted that one too! Joking of course.
  • Bwahahaha
  • Classic, lol.
  • Would never be treated like this on MacRumors. Thanks, Daniel :)
  • Only wise people come here so stupidity is out, even in comments
  • Probably because the reality distortion field is working in full force over there and have you completely covered. LOL!
  • So much win..
  • hhahahaha, nice, although im typing this with the fear of getting doubled burned by Daniel hahahaa
  • daniel can u tell me why microsoft restricted or locked video hub for saving downloaded videos in wp8 device in video hub and share video hub content.. tell me if u know please.. n it resolve in wp8.1 blue or not.. please answer
  • Relax bro, some apps are already getting this ability privately from msft it seems - like whatsapp
  • Have almost the same doubt..... Where do the downloaded videos go ??? I downloaded a few videos using UC. But i can't find them anywhere except in UC's download manager. Couldn't find even using PC. Can anyone help please ???
  • One of the many reasons why I would LOVE a file explorer/manager for WP.
  • It will always be in apps own memory. No other app can see it. May be even third party file manager can't see it
  • I hope every WP8 devices will get this update.
  • Read the article
  • I read it. It said "devices are expected". So, there you go.
  • The current line is yes, all current WP8 devices will get the update. Of course, 8.1 will have new hardware dependent features, so not every feature will be there and presumably "something could happen" that would prevent the update. But we are expecting all phones, even the Lumia 520, to get updated.
  • Hopefully Verizon will allow it for the seemingly discontinued 822. I don't want to become a dev (no matter how easy it is (if I did, I'd buy an Android phone)) to side load it.
  • You do know that you basically just sign up with an email and the update pops up in your phone update que just as if it were regularly scheduled to be. It's not side loaded and it's less work than signing up for a forum.
  • Stop fearing the unknown.  It's extremely easy to install Update 3.  No need to sideload anything. Just sign up and the update pops up on your phone.  Highly recommend it.
  • You keep talking about the 520 with its 8gb of storage, but there are some of us, like me, who, im sorry to say, have an 8S, with its 4gb of storage, of which less than 3gb is available to the user.
  • Maybe it's because a vast chunk of WP8 devices out there in the world is the lowly but great 520. Maybe it's also because by the time WP8.1 rolls out, Nokia D&S (of which the 520 is part and parcel of) will already be in the hands of MS therefore they'll have control over the 520. Maybe HTC (of which the 8S is part and parcel of) will not spend time and money and effort to test WP8.1 for the 8S and MS has very little control over that. But if HTC spends the time and money and effort to test WP8.1 for 8S, I'm sure it will get the update.
  • April seems so far off lol
  • They announce it on April first devices receive it by November att receives it by summer 2015.
  • +920 :D
  • +1020 ;)
  • this sounds amazing
  • ^.^^.^^.^ i just wet me pants
  • I wish you were a girl...
  • .........
  • I just shipped my bed!
     
  • Daniel.. Halo... Your missing some! ^
  • My god
  • Great to hear, hopefully they release a beta version of 8.1 prior to the BUILD event.  Something actually bothers me: "VPN support for enterprise users". I hope, everyone gets VPN support including support for Cisco IPSec (which Windows 8.1 unfortunately lacks).
  • I'm sure they will. But VPN is rarely going to be used outside enterprise environments. Not saying there's no use but not a lot.
  • Every WP8.1 phone will have VPN support, it just part of the whole Enterprise pack that MS has been touting as coming soon in order to get more companies on board. Enterprise users are just the target, not the exclusive.
  • Read as 'VPN support, good for enterprise users'.
  • Any IT department that forces VPN usage on a nice shiny smartphone should be taken out at dawn and shot.  
  • So you would prefer that anyone can remote in without security?
  • IT departments usually don't dictate use cases, only implement and support the solutions requested of them by other parts of the business. For most of our mobility users, having VPN availability on corporate devices would give end users an option for accessing a lot of intranet based resources that aren't available without pulling out their laptop and tunneling into the network.  Access from the phone to, say, timekeeping resources, IT support resources, HR information, etc. would make a lot of our end users happy to keep the laptop at the office or in its bag. Not sure what you were getting at with this comment.  Unless you're one of the "everything should be SSL and in the cloud" types.  In that case, I would say that the majority of companies either aren't comfortable with, or aren't capable of changing all internal systems to accommodate this.
  • DE? Are u a fellow Delawarean?
  • Nope, I'm from Germany :P
  • Where in the Diamond State are you from?
  • #newark
  • Sounds amazing. I'm confused about the Goldfinger and Moneypenny. Does not Goldfinger not have Cortana and onscreen buttons?
  • I'm sure it will have Cortana since it is integrated into the OS. On-screen buttons are intended for price-conscious devices so probably not since Goldfinger is intende