Notification center, Cortana digital assistant reportedly set for Windows Phone 8.1

Details of a notification center and virtual assistant codenamed “Cortana” have long been rumored for future versions of Windows Phone, and a new report claims they’ll both be coming in the next major update to Microsoft’s mobile operating system.

According to The Verge, Windows Phone 8.1 will include both features, which it says will be revealed at BUILD 2014 in April. A release time frame isn’t provided in the report, though it claims Microsoft employees are currently beta testing the update.

Windows Phone 8.1’s notification center will operate similar to the integrated versions on Android and iOS, according to the report, with a long-swipe down from the top of the screen displaying notifications from different apps. A short swipe from the top is said to reveal a quick-settings menu. 

Images of a notification center in Windows Phone first leaked in June, when a developer phone containing an early build of the update was accidentally sold on eBay. Microsoft admitted in November 2012 that it “ran out of time” for a notification center in Windows Phone 8 in its efforts to launch the OS.

Cortana, named after the A.I. character in the Halo series, will allegedly operate similarly to Google Now and Apple’s Siri, with users speaking in natural language to command Windows Phone devices. The virtual assistant was first reported in September by ZDNet, which claims Cortana will also be coming to Windows and Xbox One at some point. According to The Verge, Cortana will replace the integrated Bing search feature in Windows Phone, presumably launching when users press the search button. 

Other features allegedly coming to Windows Phone 8.1 include volume controls for different aspects of the OS, VPN support and Bing Smart Search results similar to those found in Windows 8.1. Additionally, some areas of the OS, such as the music hub, will be further refined, the report states, with Xbox Music and Xbox Video separated into different apps.

Source: The Verge

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