One of the star features of Windows Phone 8.1 is the Cortana voice assistant.
April 2, 2014 9:49 AM PDTUpdated: April 2, 2014 3:55 PM PDT
Photo by: James Martin/CNET
/ Caption by: Brian Bennett
Microsoft made sure to place a shortcut to activate Cortana right from the Start Screen.
Think Android has the monopoly on information-dense home screens? You might want to check out the new Windows Phone 8.1 Start Screen with smaller, closely-packed tiles.
You can now add personalized backgrounds to the Start Screen.
New to Windows Phone 8.1 are fresh and funky lock screen designs.
One of the new lock screens uses a wild diagonal design.
You can now graft eye-catching colors and textured patterns to the once static Windows Start Screen.
Within Windows Phone 8.1's options menu, you can train Cortana to say your name.
Train Cortana to only let the ones you care for most get a hold of you.
Similar to the "Do Not Disturb" mode on the HTC One M8 and night mode on BlackBerry 10, Cortana can turn off all communication when in "Quiet Hours".
Cortana and Windows Phone 8.1 will make note of your personal interests in the Notebook feature.
Here's a top-level look at what Cortana's Notebook section keeps track off.
Cortana can create reminders around specific people.
In addition to having Cortana remind you of things to do when certain people call, you can also set alerts for traditional time triggers.
Windows Phone 8.1 now brings Android-style notifications to the table.
Cortana can search for nearby restaurants that you might find to your liking. For instance it might learn Mexican spots or Pizza parlors are your weakness and adapt accordingly.
Microsoft says Windows Phone 8.1 along with Cortana will hit current WP8 handsets (like the HTC 8X shown here) in the next few months.
Similar to Swype and Android's gesture typing keyboard, Windows Phone 8.1 uses Word Flow for one-handed text entry.
Pick your accent color and style of your Start Screen.
Bring a little color to your settings and notifications screens.
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