Tip o’ the Week #262 – Windows Phone 8.1 Update

clip_image002Well, it’s been an exciting week. We might not have laser beams but we will get “HoloLens(though we’re not quite at the “Help me, Obi-Wan…” level of holo-projection). Augmented Reality may be about to get really powerful and mainstream, though one departed great was adding to reality at the height of Reaganomics, almost 30 years ago

Windows Phone as a name is reportedly going away, to be replaced with just “Windows 10”, but there’s still some innovation to come before the availability of the new phone version, later this year (preview here, maybe?).

The upgrade known as “Windows Phone 8.1 Update” is making its way in the world; some new phones already have it installed, while others are getting it as we speak. Lumia users will see a new package of updates that includes Windows Phone 8.1 Update, known as “Lumia Denim”: see here for an overview or look here for detailed rollout information.

Some highlights

clip_image006There are a few particularly cool additions; like the ability to group icons on your home screen into folders, where a tap on the group will expand it out into a sclip_image004ection with larger tiles so you can start the apps quickly. It’s one extra tap on the home screen but it means you can get quicker access to key apps without needing to scroll around on the usual list of apps.

There’s also a nice feature called Apps Corner, which lets you pick a few (like Maps, or a good Stopwatch) and allow them to be launched by anyone, without needing you to unlock the phone. It’s a bit like Kids Corner but for everyone else, and you do need to specifically activate it (either by navigating through the settings menu to enable it, or pinning a shortcut to the start screen) before handing the phone over.

clip_image008action center

Everyone who’s on Windows Phone 8.1 will no doubt like the action center, with its quick glance at battery life remaining, the easy jump straight to the phone’s settings or the 4 big tiles that take you to common settings like WiFi and Bluetooth… but did you know you can customise it? Go into settings > notifications + actions and you can replace the 4 default tiles with choices of your own.

Windows Phone 8.1 Update adds the ability to show mobile data on this list – so if you’re travelling and want quick access to be able to switch roaming data on and off, there’s no easier way.

Finally, internet sharing on the Update gets a tweak – you can set your phone as before to be a WiFi hotspot and share out its own data connection to other devices, but you can also now do internet sharing over Bluetooth.

For a full list of what’s new in the update, and for the OS version numbers, see here.

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