Windows Phone 8.1 review

Windows Phone 8.1 review
The addition of key new productivity and security features, like Action Centre and mobile device management support make Windows Phone 8.1 one of the most enterprise-friendly mobile operating systems currently available.
Pros:
Action Centre and Word Flow keyboard, mobile device management support, encrypted email and VPN support
Cons:
Application offering still behind iOS and Android, no Cortana in the UK
Overall Rating:
4 Star Rating: Recommended
Price: Free upgrade
Manufacturer: Microsoft

Despite spending a good amount of time telling everyone how great Windows Phone 8 is for business when it launched in 2012, Microsoft is now listing Windows Phone 8.1 as the first "actually enterprise-ready" version of the mobile OS.

By pitching Windows Phone 8.1 at enterprise buyers, Microsoft is clearly looking to grab a share of a market that until recently was dominated by Canada's BlackBerry.

However, with Apple iOS and Google Android already having made their own inroads into the business market, many have justifiably wondered what extra features and services Windows Phone 8.1 offers that make it more enterprise ready than the competition.

User interface
Microsoft has worked hard to make Windows Phone's interface as user friendly as possible and on the whole its efforts have paid off. We've found the brightly coloured tiled interface to be significantly easier to use than the UI on many competitors' platforms, like BlackBerry 10 and Android.Windows Phone 8.1 review home
Consequently, we are pleased to see Microsoft hasn't made too many changes with 8.1. The UI is still split into two screens. The main home screen displays tiled shortcuts to applications that can be moved, adjusted to three different sizes and deleted as necessary. The second screen is accessed by swiping left and brings up a vertical list of all applications and features installed on the device.

However, after using the OS for a while we did notice a few new customisation options, including the ability to set an image as the main home screen's background. Previous versions of Windows Phone 8 only let you pick the colour of the tiles.

Microsoft has also added a new "Action Centre" feature, which is similar to the quick update feature on Google's Android OS. Action Centre can be accessed by scrolling down from the top of the phone's UI and features shortcuts to key options such as Bluetooth, WiFi and screen brightness, as well as notifications from linked social media and email accounts.

Action Centre is a very handy addition to the OS, making it quick and easy for users to check incoming notifications without having to exit the application they are using.

Productivity

Windows Phone's already impressive array of productivity services has been further improved on with Windows Phone 8.1, which is packed with a host of new and improved business-focused features.Windows Phone 8.1 review Office 365
One of the most compelling business features on the OS remains Microsoft Office 365, which gives users access to key productivity tools like Word, PowerPoint and Excel. This means users can create, save and edit documents using their Windows smartphone. As an added bonus, thanks to the direct integration of Microsoft's OneDrive cloud storage service, users can also sync their Office account and pull files started on a PC onto their phone, making it easier for them to stay connected and productive on the move.

In practice, we've found the limitations of the smartphone format mean much of Office 365's functionality cannot be fully exploited, making the productivity suite essentially a tool for document editing or viewing.
That said, while we wouldn't relish having to type a whole document using our smartphone, Microsoft has made the process easier with Windows Phone 8.1's "Word Flow" keyboard. This has a feature called "Shape Writing" that is designed to help users type more quickly. Shape Writing is fairly similar to Android's Swift Key feature in that it lets users type on the keyboard without having to lift their fingers.

Windows Phone 8.1's calendar app has also been upgraded, with Microsoft adding Google Calendar support, a week view mode and information from its Weather app.

Another key change is Skype's direct integration into the OS, which means you can now make a Skype video call directly from the OS's dialler and synchronise your contacts into Windows Phone 8.1's main address book.

Next: Security, apps, Cortana, under the hood upgrades, conclusion.

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About Doru Somcutean

Hello, my name is Somcutean Doru and I'm from Romania.

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