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Nokia's Lumia lineup is better with Windows Phone 8.1

Florence Ion | April 4, 2014
The Lumia 930, 630, and 635 are just three more additions to the Lumia lineup. The real excitement is in the OS that fuels them.

bing fitness
FLORENCE ION. Bing Fitness & Health will offer up workout videos to help you stay in shape.

Windows 8.1 borrowed many of its new features from other platforms, one of which is the Swype-like, gesture-based Word Flow keyboard. It works well, but no better than the Google Keyboard app on Android: The swiping mechanism and ability is there, but it doesn't have all the bells and whistles that other applications do. It's nice to have as an option, but it's still too bad that third-party keyboards aren't allowed in the Windows Phone Marketplace.

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FLORENCE ION. Windows Phone 8.1's new Word Flow keyboard integrates colorful emoji, but it doesn't always get what you're trying to write out. 

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FLORENCE ION. It also borrows the swiping thumb gesture abilities from popular Android apps like Swype. It works, but the comfort level depends entirely on how big your phone is.

Cortana Talks
Like Apple's Siri, Cortana's luscious voice will answer any of your queries as best it can. You can engage her from a Live Tile or by holding down the search button. She'll give you directions, check the weather, and set up reminders. She'll gamely take your questions, but her answers can vary. Facts about the Empire State Building? No problem. But she had trouble answering how old San Francisco is, instead offering deals to hotels in the city. Close, but no cigar.

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FLORENCE ION. How old is San Francisco? Cortana couldn't tell you.

For the most part, Cortana is a proper amalgamation of Google Now's contextual functionality and Siri's weirdly charismatic personality. While fulfilling your requests to search the web or find directions around town, it stores what it learns about you in a virtual Notebook, where it can learn to serve you better next time.

cortana notebook
FLORENCE ION. Cortana stores everything she knows about you in this handy Notebook. That's not creepy at all.

A standout feature is Cortana's ability to remind you to tell someone something at a later time. Rather than just relay a to-do when you're in a specific location, like Google Now and Siri do, Cortana can remind you to tell someone something right as you're contacting them from your phone. It could be through email, text message, or phone call; as soon as you input their name, Windows Phone will pop up a reminder of what you need to relay to them.

cortana savethewhales
FLORENCE ION. I asked Cortana to help remind me to Save the Whales. She will pop up a reminder, once I get to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom.

 

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