Windows Phone 8.1: The Massive Changelog!

WP8.1 data sense

Preview for developers update is here and we have it now on our Lumia 525 and it entirely looks like a different smartphone, post the huge update called Windows Phone 8.1. It is certainly a huge OS overhaul and nearly all settings, start screen and native apps have some changes to report. For your convenience, all Windows Phone 8.1 changes, which we could check and verify are collated in one place on this page.

You should also visit our new Windows Phone 8.1 page, which has all our Windows Phone 8.1 feature coverage, hands-on demo cum settings tutorial videos, tips & tricks for getting more out of Windows Phone 8.1, on one page. We will keep adding stuff to that page, so you must bookmark it if you want to know and learn more about Windows Phone 8.1. Here is the link.

Full Changelog

OS changes & New features:

  • The pull down notification center will be called Action Center
  • Devs can remove, tag, group notifications or replace with a new one. They can also set when the notification expires. They can also enable Ghoast toast notifications, which will appear only in notification center
  • There is a limit of 20 notifications per app and notification for last 7 days or less will be shown. Users will be able to tap on, remove one, a group of or all the notifications.
  • Universal search with Cortana incoming
  • There will be Four Slots (Five for bigger display devices, but needs to be confirmed) found in Quick access settings of Action Center and following apps can be set for quick access,

    *Airplane Mode
    * Rotation Lock
    *Internet Sharing
    *Do Not Disturb
    * VPN
    * Location and
    * Mirroring

  • To support Fingerprint scanner
  • High-grade security
  • Live Lock-screen
  • Dual-Sim support. You can link phone tiles and can have one Phone Tile , call history , and speed dial for both SIMs . Unlinking phone tiles will again make two separate Phone Tiles , call history , and speed dial for both SIMs .
  • Social notifications will now show up in action center by swiping from the top of the screen
  • A native Downloads folder
  • Change default SMS app. You can also change which SMS app will show notifications.
  • Back button doesn’t terminate the app but suspend it just like WinRT
  • Grid View and List View for apps
  • VPN support confirmed
  • Speed dial confirmed. Can have u to 30 numbers
  • Email notification icon has been added to the top taskbar (when mail arrives)
  • Always download full images  in mail
  • Accidental search prevention
  • Separate volume controls for Media+Apps and Ringers+ Notification
  • QHD resolution support
  • Facebook app is in-built into Windows Phone 8.1, but other social network user need to install apps
  • Upload status for photos shown
  • Calendar has not only added weekly view but also yearly view
  • Swype keyboard input confirmed
  • Slide down to close app
  • Pivots, now called Hub, have smaller title. More screen space!
  • File Manager coming. Not activated in the SDK, but mentioned all around.
  • Progress ring from WinRT
  • New YouTube player
  • New USB settings
  • USB OTG support teased
  • Only one new accent color
  • Windows Phone 8 is known as WinPRT
  • Lock-screen has smaller letters
  • IETileManager come to Windows Phone 8.1
  • Speak button for SkyDrive upload (Cortana)
  • Contact filter settings
  • New thread settings and speak option (Cortana)
  • Along with normal updates, there are now “important” updates.
  • Encrypted and signed e-mail support
  • Enterprise enrolled phones can have their passwords changed and remotely locked
  • Geofence monitoring support. Geofence is a boundary around a place of interest to you. Location services can monitor geofences to tell your apps when you’re entering and leaving them.
  • Office Lens support
  • The phone will have to update to the latest version before you can restore it to factory settings
  • Option to update store apps automatically
  • Option to update store apps when only on Wi-Fi
  • Video Calling Support? I don’t know if we will be given choices of which VOIP provider to use. Maybe Skype video calling will be built-in?
  • Password protected Office document support
  • In-call speech commands. You’ll be able to say “Call XXXXXX”.
  • Double-Tap to unlock your phone (Feature from Lumia devices on Amber Update and newer)
  • Lock Notification
  • Quiet Hours to live for some time without notifications
  • Double Tap to Power Off
  • Notification if charger isn’t of adequate power
  • Screenshot button combination is now Power + Volume Up (Since the newer phones will have the start button on screen)
  • Voice Narrator for Accessibility
  • The Search button will be the new way to open Speech instead of the Start button
  • New Email sync options with accordance to usage patterns (i.e. If you get a lot of mail on particular days and if you don’t check mail every day).
  • Wallet supports tickets and membership cards
  • Backups now include application data
  • Screen Reader functionality (Maybe Text-To-Speech for apps?)
  • Screen Recording functionality
  • Inner Circle of contacts. Up to 40 contacts can be in the inner circle.
  • You can favorite photos by tapping a heart icon
  • Virtual SmartCard support
  • Windows Phone 8.1 comes equipped with Earthquake warning system.


  • Cortana, the voice-assistant has been revealed from Leaked SDK code.
  • Some interaction patterns which provide insights into the brains of Cortana. It can tune in music for you, take orders, save alarms and reminders and modify them as well, make calendar entries, write messages and call friends. It can use maps and Bing search to find nearby restaurants, places of interest. It can search your phone and web as well ( Universal search hinted again ).
  • Cortana is really smart and it can not only handle your orders smartly but also surprise you with some Jibes and offer smarter suggestions. Some of the examples extracted from the SDK query.
  • Cortana will not work when power saving kicks in.
  • You can turn off Cortana and will stop receiving the reminders, alerts and ideas.
  • Cortana is tightly integrated to Bing Account and the profile data saved with Bing Account remains synced across devices. Even if one deletes the data on phone the cloud profile data remains intact.
  • Cortana’s language can be changed. Extracted Icon pack shows its various icons for different functions.
  • Cortana can save some data on her personal notebook based on your usage! This includes your name, inner circles, your reminders, etc. You can select to clear the data on her notebook!
  • Cortana saves the things she learns about you in the cloud as well as on your local device.
    You would be able to rename Cortana (and this was confirmed by Microsoft in an interview about virtual assistant) .
  • Cortana will handle your calls and texts and will silence other notifications during those “Quiet hours”. You can turn it on or set it to turn on automatically.
  • Cortana can get really friendly if you set the settings to ‘personal greetings
  • Cortana seems will arrive with support for 15 languages In total
  • Cortana may have both Male & Female Avatars
  • You can delete Cortana, if you wish so.
  • Cortana will have a Live Tile


  • In Windows Phone 8.1, if you wish to share from within an app, you will be presented with options of all apps which can share the content you want.
  • Document sharing now is not limited and all the apps which have sharing contract will share it. So, NFC, WiFi direct all come into picture.

Customization & Tiles:

  • Two kind of customization options. Only theme customization and start screen+ theme customization.
  • Change the size and amount of tiles on your start screen. 3 mid-size tiles in a row for all.
  • Me Tile not excluded from People Hub
  • Customizable start screen Background
  • Navigation bar with settings to hide or match accent color
  • Pictures can be set as background


  • Browser upload
  • Browser password manager
  • WebGL support
  • Better HTML5 support
  • Stop / Refresh buttons in the address bar
  • Reading mode and options of browser color and font size selection
  • Tab Syncing, no limits on number of tabs
  • InPrivate Browsing

Storage & MicroSD card:

  • Apps installation on SD Card and installed apps on phone can be moved to SD card
  • Apps installed on SD card leave ( get removed) when you remove the SD card
  • Installed apps from phone can be moved to MicroSD card and vice-versa is also true. On resetting the phone MicroSD card data will also get erased.
  • Chkdsk for SD Cards essentially
  • Apps on SD Cards are only allowed from ONE originating phone. If it detects that apps from another phone are installed on the SD Card, then it will ask to delete those first

Settings changes:

  • Settings for Language, Region, Find my phone have many changes
  • Ease of access has a separate browser settings view now. Can allow zooming on all web content. Speech can be used to access the Phone.
  • NFC can now save “Apps that you trust. Trusted app list for NFC that will remove the need for asking whether you want to open a particular app.
  • Auto-download MMS
  • Location request indicator
  • Default voice navigation app can be changed in Maps (Cortana)

New Apps & Apps related changes:

  • App Suggestions by location
  • Apps suggestions based on your Facebook profile
  • Manual App Update checks
  • App Syncing
  • Operators can also install certain applications once a SIM card is detected
  • Wifi sense. Sharing secure WI-Fi Networks with contacts if they have Wi-Fi Sense. They don’t get to see the shared password though
  • Camera app has 3 new mode: camera, burst and video and customizable viewfinder. One can choose which buttons to see in the UI
  • Battery sense (see what apps are taking the charge)
  • Data sense, Operators can now control data sense limits remotely
  • Storage sense
  • New podcast app
  • Music & Video apps are exactly like Xbox music and video apps
  • WP8.1 apps not compatible with WP8 devices without running WP8.1 update. WP8.1 devices can run WP8 apps though

Unifying Windows RT & Windows Phone:

  • Universal apps or Blue shared apps: Target both Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows RT stores with a single app
  • Shared development platform for rendering right app to right form-factor
  • Tiles and notifications are cross-platform or Universal
  • Converged UI controls for easy apps development


  • Vsevolod

    I’m really waiting for ability to block all unknown calls(not in contacts) as an option. My grandfather is having troubles with some scum company that calls him from thousands of numbers.

  • LpMan

    can connect ‘wifi direct’ to android devices or similar handsets?
    Plz reply

  • muhiiib

    Will 8.1 push Bluetooth at the time of sharing anything provided Bluetooth is off previously……..?

  • Don Sluter

    Will 8.1 be able to utilize XpressConnect so college students can connect to the school’s WiFi? Windows Phone is the only mobile device that cannot use it.

  • karan

    When the 8.1 update will b avialable 2 customers ?

    • Kamal

      Sometime in May if everything goes fine or else early June :)

      • DrHRH

        Are you joking Kamal? It’s been available to everyone since the 14th of April.

        • Kamal

          That’s preview for devs :)

          • Dr HRH

            Ha. Dev = anyone who simply registers for free as a developer, as I did. I wouldn’t rush to do it though people. The update is somewhat frustratingly underwhelming. It really does baffle me that Microsoft and Nokia seem to have very little understanding of technological advancement. These improvements are minimal and WP is still exponentially behind Android in terms of usability. It’s as though they’ve done half a job on this. Believe me, I hate moaning and I really want Windows Phone to be a solid, viable competitive alternative. The truth is, it simply isn’t good enough. Bitterly disappointing.

            • jolyrojr

              I really disagree. Its matter of opinion really. Id like to know what usability android has that’s sooo overwhelmingly better? I know it allows apps to run themselves in the background, at all times, without your knowledge or consent, making the phone extremely slow, that’s better I guess… Its the only phone OS that requires an antivirus because its “open” aka insecure… that’s better I guess. I know androids that use up all their storage become completely unusable, which I lOVE. OK you are right, android wins everything!

              and to the Kamal, I know what you mean by customers, and they say most likely October now that they are testing 8.1 update 1..

        • LpMan

          can connect ‘wifi direct’ to android devices or similar handsets?

    • ansar

      24th June 2014 as per Microsoft update cycle

  • B-to-B Digital Media LLC

    Wondering if Cortana and all of these features will be available in the update or if we will have to buy a new WP 8.1. I have a 920… Will Cortana be available with an update for this device or will I have to wait for a newer model?

    Great post BTW

  • Enggaya Sylva

    Super post. Will this 8.1 update comprises app locks? It will be good if we could able to lock sms, contacts and certain apps.

  • Aideerz

    Are u serz abt the ability to download files directly from the IE browser
    would ther b a separate download folder wher i can view ma downloads directly from pc ? Is d fingerprint support for all lumia models or just d high end,nw i think i’d b proud of my lumia rather than hiding cos it seems like an outdated OS,thanks moderator……good job

  • maina

    wen wl lumia 725 release in india? nd wats will b d cost?

  • santhosh1802

    This is what i expected from Microsoft… Amazing Features… After this Update, My Lumia 820 will become power packed OS. Is there any Lag when Comparing to Android after the Update

  • Dr HRH

    Could you explain what the Battery Sense thing is? One my biggest annoyances is not knowing how much battery I’ve got left in percentage terms. Something that’s bog-standard in Android. I have to use a third-party app to check the battery every 30 mins. Will this change in 8.1?
    Dr HRH.

    • Selfie13

      Battery Sense (my thinking of how this works based on what’s been leaked and what ive read elsewhere) should work very much the same as “Data Sense” currently works in WP8, Ive never used Data Sense because AT&T stripped this feature out of the OS for all Windows Phones on their network, Verizon supports Data Sense though. You will now be able to look at each individual app, or certain parts of the OS, to determine a percentage of the battery that an app or setting is using. Maybe a recent app you’ve downloaded has caused above normal battery drain due to a bug within the app, now you will be able to open Battery Sense to determine the culprit and uninstall the app or notify the developer. As for the percentage of remaining battery life, I dont think that will ever be something to appear on the status bar next to the battery icon, it takes away from the minimalist look and design of Windows Phone, just wouldn’t look good at all. I could be wrong, and maybe there will be a setting to enable said feature for anyone who would like, but personally, I get such great battery life on my 920 I bought on day one, I really never worry about checking the battery status after being fully charged in the morning. If I’m ever curious about the percentage, I just open “Settings” and scroll down to where it says “Battery Saver” and directly below in smaller text is the percentage of remaining battery life, but with the WP 8.1 update, I’m sure there will be a solution to fit your need of knowing and seeing the remaining battery percentage most or all of the time.

      • Dr HRH

        Thanks for that Selfie13. I have to take issue with a point you made though. I don’t think there’s anything obtrusive about putting the battery percentage in the battery icon. It wouldn’t take up anymore screen space. It would simply be a number within the rectangular space taken up by the battery symbol which could easily be visible.

        I thought I wouldn’t need to bother worrying about battery life with the 1520 but unfortunately it’s nowhere near as good as I’d hoped. Yesterday for example, with moderate usage I was down to 20 percent after about 12 hours. As you can tell perhaps, I’m obsessively careful to make sure everything runs efficiently on the phone, with regard to background tasks, email sync, screen brightness, wifi, bluetooth etc. All it took to ravage the battery yesterday was an hour or so of kids’ games played by my daughter and her cousin.

        I must say I’m rather disappointed with the Lumia 1520. Not only is the battery life disappointing but also the signal stability is terrible. I’ve read that this seems to be an issue for quite a few 1520 users. I’ve missed quite a few calls, voicemails, Whatsapp messages and on a few too many occasions now I’ve been unable to send any text messages due a complete lack of network connectivity. I’ve been in the same places that I always go to and with my Note 2 and Note 3, there were never any of these problems.

        I’m starting to regret selling the Note 3 for this Lumia. Thank goodness I still have the Note 2 as a backup!

        All I can desperately hope for is a significant improvement with the 8.1 update. Otherwise the phone will have to be sold.

        • Siddharth

          Are you sure you haven’t got a bad unit? Pretty much every other review of the 1520 seems to say that the battery life is excellent! PS. When did you get the 1520?

          • Dr HRH

            I’ve had the phone about 6 weeks. I don’t think there’s any fault with the handset. The only thing maybe different to most is that I bought it from Amazon UK but it’s the Hong Kong version, oddly enough. The battery is generally OK but definitely not brilliant. I think my definition, as someone else pointed out, of heavy use is perhaps different to most people. There’s simply no phone available that will last a whole day of my heavy use and maybe I was being a bit harsh on this phone. I don’t know really. I just hope the 8.1 update will make the phone useable for me, i.e. add some features I desperately miss from Android. If so, I’ll be able to live with the questionable battery life. Hopefully. A question about the logistics of getting the update when it’s finally available: will it just come OTA to my Hong Kong version 1520 or will I have to somehow find it and flash it?

        • BNear

          Holy cow Dr HRH, you’re quite implacable. So far every comment you’ve made concerning this 8.1 “BETA” release has been nothing short of disapproving. Have you, as a member of the Dev team, taken these concerns to Microsoft? I assume you are actually a Dev team member right? If you are not a member, you’re not actually helping to provide improvements prior to the official rollout. Maybe you should wait and see what the final release brings, hopefully you’ll then be pleased. As you are aware, the release you installed is pretty much without support as the installed are supposed to be part of that support team, complaining and arguing with those you’ve just asked assistance from only makes those that help think twice before they bother to get involved with Q&A at this stage of the OS’s development.

          • DrHRH

            Yep. I agree totally. Your sarcastic, critical response is equally constructive. Thanks for your useful input BNear. We need more people like you in this world.

  • Raghavendra Bestha
    • Kamal

      I think that is bound to come with next PureView device.

  • Ashwani Dixit

    how to update with preview for developers mode ??? please help…..

  • Donny

    Hey it’s kinda hard to tell what’s changed. Can you bold the new stuff that gets added?

    • Kamal

      ok, so you are talking about updates that we add. I think that’s a good idea. But for yesterday it was about Cortana and you can see a full separate section for her.

  • ScubaDog2008

    Are you flipping KIDDING me? “Swiping down to exit is easier than tapping the “x””? Oh, good grief. You now have zero credibility.

    • Kamal

      What the duck does that mean? How is it related to anyone’s credibility? If it doesn’t suite your taste, never use it when u get it, or create a consumer voice option for stopping MS from doing so.

    • Rob Geerts

      Yes, it sure is, on my Lumia 920 the X is a bit too high for my thumb. I CAN reach it but it’s easier to swipe the screenshot of the app in de lower regions. By the way, with the swipe-functionality you can close 2 apps in one swipe.

  • pranay

    Action center -brightness … will the action center have toggles or the shortcuts to the settings page

    • Kamal

      May be both. toggles for some and settings shortcuts for others.

  • caspien

    Everything at one place. It’s really a nice. I was planning to request a post like this. please do update it when new leaks come.
    Thank you

    • Kamal

      sure, that’s the plan :). We will keep it updated!

    • agwa

      Mobile data on action center would be useful too.

      • Kamal

        True. It should have been as an option there!