There's always been an excuse to not use Windows Phone. With Windows Phone 8.1, which tries to plug in many of the weakspots of the operating system, the list of reasons not to use it is getting smaller.
It's not Siri, it's Cortana. Microsoft's intention to build an assistant with personality aims to be something more special than Siri, and the beta version of the feature shows that's it's already more than halfway there.
China's Ministry of Commerce has approved Nokia's sale of its Devices & Services business to Microsoft. China is the latest regulator to approve the transaction, a process that took longer than expected because of approval issues in some parts of Asia. Microsoft and Nokia must still close the deal once all the necessary approvals are obtained, but Nokia anticipates the $7.2 billion deal being finalized at some point this month. Once completed, Nokia's handset division, product pipeline, and manufacturing assets will be run by former CEO and current Microsoft executive Stephen Elop.
Nokia today announced the Nokia Lumia 930, an international version of the recently released (and reviewed) Lumia Icon. It also announced that all of its products would receive the "Cyan" update to add new Windows Phone 8.1 features to the device.
At its Build Conference in New York today, Microsoft announced Windows Phone 8.1 revealed it will be distributed in a few months. The company also highlights that these features are slated to arrive in a few months.
Windows Phone 8 users now have a dedicated Facebook Messenger app rather than the old solutions of using the Facebook app or the Messaging Hub. The switch to a standalone app includes new support for stickers and photos, and lets users jump right to messages rather than rely on the app. More importantly, it makes it easier to distribute updates when new features are added. It's far easier to issue app updates than it is to issue firmware updates when the messaging client is updated. Redundancies are created in notifications, so users will need to turn off message notifications in Facebook and Windows Phone if they were previously enabled.
One of the marquee features from Microsoft's upcoming Windows Phone 8.1 is the rumored voice search assistant, Cortana, which is expected to have some the context-aware features that make Google Now so attractive.
Windows Phone fandom hasn't been very kind to Verizon in the past. Nokia and Verizon must have realized a change was necessary because the companies opted not to name its latest Windows Phone, the Lumia Icon, with the same naming conventions.It's a fitting switch, because this isn't a by the numbers smartphone.
BlackBerry Messenger will complete its cross-platform hat trick and arrive on Windows Phone at an undisclosed date later this year. Having already made the jump to Android and iOS last year, BBM will support the Windows Phone platform in the summer. That's a very long time to wait, especially considering the continued growth of WhatsApp and the impending launch of Facebook Messenger. BBM will face even stiffer competition when it launches later this year, but the app's spread to Android and iOS has lead to millions of new users.
Microsoft might do the unthinkable - make it possible for Android apps to run on its Windows Phone operating. Is this a good strategy or the first step toward Microsoft admitting defeat in the smartphone world?