Wow Windows Phone 8.1 even better than the rumours!
Obviously I was up to speed on all of the new rumoured features, however, to avoid potential disappointment I was resigning myself to the probability that at least one of the rumours was untrue. Luckily all the features I was looking for have been introduced and more!
- Swype-like keyboard (Shape Typing)
- Notification bar (Action Center)
- Cortana Virtual Assistant
Swype-like keyboard is probably my most wanted feature. Since switching to Windows Phone I have often been waiting to gain access to a desktop before responding to emails because my typing speed has dropped dramatically. While Swype on Android it felt like I was not far from keyboard speed, the standard MS Keyboard felt like I was just wasting my time even starting to type.
It is difficult to explain how nice it is to read all your notifications, body text and all, just from a quick swipe on the lock screen unless you have experienced it in Android, preferably stock Android as Samsung tends to flood the notification bar with tons of widgets restricting how much text can appear. It was low on my list of importance as it is only saving a couple of clicks and barely a second, but every little improvement enhances the overall experience in a way that is difficult to measure.
Cortana Virtual Assistant
I am no Halo fan, I preferred Quake & Team Fortress, however, I am a fan of being able to add quick voice reminders. MS appears to have taken this to a new level by allowing location and people based notifications. Additionally the demonstrated app integration looked impressive and I am curious how well it will work in the field.
I certainly cant wait for WP 8.1 to be released, from my perspective it looks like WP is now clearly superior to iOS and possibly on equal footing with Android.
Of course the little implementation details are important. I have found Swype superior to the Google keyboard implementation of the same functionality, although Google is catching up with each release Swype is still one step ahead. Additionally Androids notification bar is a little better than iOS in terms of functionality, so I could not really make a judgement until I can see the full implementation in person.