Windows Phone is getting an all-new notification center and personal assistant (codenamed ‘Cortana’) in its 8.1 update, and a freshly leaked PowerPoint slide offers a glimpse of how it is going to look. First leaked by Winphollowers and verified as genuine by the Verge, the grabs show how notifications and settings will appear.
The “Action Center”, as Microsoft is calling it, appears when you swipe down from the top of the screen: here you’ll be able to adjust Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and other important system settings. Pull down further to see all of your updates, sorted by app — from here they can be launched or dismissed as required.
“Apps can intelligently manage notifications,” says the leaked slide, which presumably means they have the power to delete a notification before you read it if it’s no longer relevant. The presentation also reveals that the Windows Phone 8.1 update will be called Windows Phone Blue.
As for the Cortana personal assistant, we know that this will be Microsoft’s answer to Siri and Google Now: using data pulled in from Foursquare, Bing and Outlook you’ll be able to manage your life from your Windows Phone device. After hitting the mobile platform, it could expand to the Xbox One, Windows computers and even the iPhone.
Will these significant usability upgrades be enough to make a bigger dent in the market share of Android and iOS? Or is Windows Phone 8.1 destined to get the same lukewarm reception as Windows 8.1? We’ll have to wait and see: the OS is expected to be unveiled in April.