A few weeks with Windows Phone 8.1

[sc:mobile-category ]I’ve been running Windows Phone 8.1 now for a few weeks and there are a few things that are on my mind.

First off, it’s a great update overall, the following are just some items that seem to stand out to me.

Notification Center

The new notification center is a big improvement in 8.1, but there are a few things about it:

  • the old behaviour of swiping down is gone, so you can’t just bring up the status bar any more for a quick check on your network status or battery level.
  • the grab bar at the bottom is a little small, however as you can just swipe up from below the hardware buttons it’s not much of an issue.
  • Store notifications sometimes act weirdly.  Normally when you get an updated app notification, when you select it you go right to the downloads page.  The same with toast notifications.  However sometimes you don’t and instead just end up at the store front.
  • Notification options for e-mail are based on your inbox configuration.  If you leave your inboxes separate, you can set notification options for each one.  However if you use a unified inbox, you can only set notification options for the unified inbox, not the separate inboxes.

Xbox Music

The new Xbox Music app just sucks in comparison to the old Music hub.  It broke pinned playlists from the Music hub and often they still don’t work.  It needs some major work, first and foremost it needs to work better.  After that a full playlist editor and MP3 tag editor would be nice as well.

The best part of Xbox Music is that it’s just an app so Microsoft should (and have been) be able to quickly iterate through the issues.

Battery Life

Some people found battery life to be worse in the initial release, I didn’t have any issues and the recent update was targeted at some of those concerns.

6 Tile Wide Mode

My Nokia 925 supports the new 6 tile wide mode, but honestly it’s a little too small on-screen to be my preferred option, so I’ve stuck with 4 tile wide.

Internet Explorer 11

Even though by all appearances IE11 is a minor update, it has a major impact.  The ability to save and sync your passwords with your desktop IE is quite simply the best new feature in the entire 8.1 update.

Another nice item is the fact when you pin a site to your start page it can use the Windows 8.1 live tile configuration settings if the site supports it.  This means you can get live tile notifications from sites right on your start screen!

Cortana

Cortana isn’t available in Canada yet, but I’ve changed my settings and have it active.  I have to admit I don’t use it much, but the quite hours is nice.

What I’d really like Cortana to be able to do is to alert me for individual contact activity.  So for example if I received an e-mail from one of my contacts, to play an audible alert or do some other kind of notification that isn’t the default for e-mail.

Individual Volume Controls

This is a very good thing and that’s all I have to say about it 🙂

VPN

I’m still waiting for OpenVPN to support Windows Phone 8.1, it should be possible now.  If it does I’ll probably enable it and just to see what it’s like.

People Hub

The People Hub took a big hit in 8.1, it lost much of its usefulness as Microsoft had to admit that allowing third-party apps to manage the social updates was the way to go.  It would be nice to be able to set the default start page to be the “What’s New” instead of the contact list though.

Transparent Tiles

Don’t use them, don’t want to.

Calendar

The week view is so much more useful, but I do miss the agenda every once in a while.

 

Greg

Greg

Greg is the head cat at JumbleCat, with over 20 years of experience in the computer field, he has done everything from programming to hardware solutions. You can contact Greg via the contact form on the main menu above.

More Posts - Website

Greg

Greg

Greg is the head cat at JumbleCat, with over 20 years of experience in the computer field, he has done everything from programming to hardware solutions. You can contact Greg via the contact form on the main menu above.

Leave a Reply