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Microsoft's first Windows Phone 8.1 update arrives next week

With Cortana and Live Folders support
Wed Jul 30 2014, 12:43
Nokia Lumia 930 with Windows Phone 8.1

MICROSOFT has announced the first update for Windows Phone 8.1, after accidentally spilling details of the update earlier this week.

Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1, which is set to arrive as a Developer Preview next week, won't deliver a radical overhaul, but will bring a handful of new features to the operating system.

The first of these is Cortana, with Microsoft announcing that its digital assistant will be coming the UK and China with the impending update.

The firm has tweaked the feature to appeal to British users, Microsoft boasted, saying in a blog post on Tuesday, "Cortana has been tailored to support UK spellings and pronunciations and Bing-provided local data on sports teams (for the EPL), the London Stock Exchange, commuter conditions, and more.

"The voice and accent is, of course, local, and Cortana's personality in the UK has also been tweaked to be more locally relevant."

While visually Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 doesn't add much, it does bring with it a new feature called Live Folders, allowing users to drag apps onto one another to create a folder - a feature that has been available on iOS and Android for years.

Microsoft added, "We call this Live Folders because the live tiles of apps appear in the tile of the folders - you won't miss tile updates because you group apps in a folder!"

Other visual tweaks include the new live Store, which will update to show information on the latest app releases, and the Xbox Music app has also been refreshed with better list scrolling and design enhancements.

Beyond that, Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 brings with it SMS merge and forwarding, voice over LTE (VoLTE), support for smart covers like HTC's Dot View case and support for 7in devices and 1280x800 screen resolutions. A number of privacy and security enhancements are also included, such as the ability to send and receive data through a VPN network when connected to WiFi hotspots.

Windows Phone 8.1 will be available to developers - and ordinary users who have signed up as a developer - from next week, with a full rollout to take place later this year. µ

 

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