The new Windows Phone 8.1 brings a Siri rival called Cortana and Action center

Microsoft has today announced the Bing-powered Cortana voice assistant, Cortana actually Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Siri, Samsung’s S Voice and is one of the Key highlight features of the New Windows Phone 8.1.

The voice app will lets you manage basic phone functions, set appointments, perform searches, play back music, and set so-called quiet hours when only your inner circle of contacts may reach you. Just the way it’s done for Google Now, Cortana learns from the web searches you perform and the locations you frequent to try and provide contextually sensitive and timely information.

Unlike other voice assistants, Cortana has the ability to answer incomplete questions, such as “how about in Celsius?” following the initial query of “what’s the temperature in Nairobi?” The Halo-inspired voice assistant will launch in beta in the United States, with the UK and China.

final cortana
Cortana UI: Image Credit The Verge

Other Windows Phone 8.1 features

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A part from Cortana, Windows Phone 8.1 will also introduce a new Action Center (read as notification center). You’ll be able to customize which apps can send notifications to Action Center and whether they’re allowed to vibrate the phone. There’s also a set of basic toggles at the top, such as airplane mode. Additionally, there’s a more customizable lock screen, which will allow third-party apps to do “more interactive and unique” things with a set of new APIs. The Start Screen tiles have also been tweaked, with the ability to skin them with one overall image instead of just a solid color.

There is also

  • Enterprise VPN and S/MIME, allowing you to encrypt and sign emails.
  • Updated Windows Phone Store
  • Updated calendar app have also been updated
  • A new feature called Wi-Fi Sense will automatically connect you to free wireless hotspots nearby.
  • A new version of Skype that can convert a regular phone call into a Skype video call
  • A Swype-like keyboard option that lets you draw a line through the letters you want to input instead of tapping each one out individually. aka Word Flow.

Windows Phone 8.1 will roll out as an update to consumers “in the next few months,” though brand new Windows Phone 8.1 including all Lumia Phone including the affordable and successful Lumia 520.