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September 23, 2014

Windows Phone 8.1: Essential Features and Tips

This is the second half of a two-part series on getting started with Windows Phone 8.1.

We thought this series would be useful because while Cyan and the first WP 8.1 update recently became available, the roll-out is gradual, and we that know many Lumia users are in the process of upgrading from Windows Phone 8.

Here’s a handy infographic on some of the features available with Windows Phone 8.1.



Version 8.1 gives you access to Cortana, of course (we’ve written about your new virtual personal assistant here and here). And the update to 8.1 gives Lumia owners in Australia, Canada, China, India, and the United Kingdom access to Cortana as well.

Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the new and updated features that come with Windows Phone 8.1 that may be especially useful to you.


Wallet: You already have this feature with WP 8–Wallet stores the details of your credit and debit cards, as well as retail loyalty and membership cards and even coupons on your Lumia. But with 8.1, you can add other important items such as airline boarding passes, concert and event tickets.

How? Look for a file attachment in an email with the extension .mswallet and tap the attachment to add it to your Wallet. Also, if your bank’s app supports Wallet, the app will keep info such as bank credit/debit card transaction history and balance up to date. To learn how to set up your Wallet, check out this story.

Wi-Fi Sense: If you’re like me, you don’t like to waste money. Well, this feature could help you save money on your mobile-phone bill by automatically connecting you to Wi-Fi hotspots.

One neat feature: You can also share your home Wi-Fi network with your contacts without disclosing your Wi-Fi password.

Set-up is easy: Go to Settings > Wi-Fi > Wi-Fi Sense. Scroll down to “share Wi-Fi networks I select,” then tap the contacts with whom you’d like to share your network:, Skype, or Facebook. Note that for this feature to work, your contacts also need a Windows Phone with 8.1.

Action Center: On one screen, this feature gives you the most recent actions, such as emails and social-media notifications, that you want to know about. From your Start screen, swipe down to see your Action Center.

For example, I see that I’ve received seven new emails in the past 20 minutes, that Store has updated one of my apps, and that I’ve received a slew of Facebook notifications from my friends and family. You can choose which apps you want to see — simply go to an individual app’s settings page to add it to your Action Center.

Word Flow: Even though I have small fingers, it’s easy for me to tap the wrong letter or number when writing a text message or email. But with Word Flow’s shape-writing process, I can simply swipe a finger from one letter to another to sentences and even paragraphs.


The feature also becomes smarter the more you use it. For example, if you often send messages to your friend, Emily, Word Flow will remember: If you start a word with a capital “E,” her name will pop up in the suggestion bar below your message.

Two Word Flow Tips: To add a word to Word Flow’s dictionary, shape-write the word, tap it, then tap the plus sign next to the word in the suggestion bar. Want to quickly add a period? Simply tap Space twice to add a period and a space.

We hope you find these WP 8.1 features and tips helpful. After all, your Lumia should help make your life easier and more enjoyable!

If you missed the first part of this series on getting started with WP 8.1, here it is. The story talks about the new Help+Tips app and how to update your Lumia to WP 8.1.

Want to learn even more? We’ve got you covered: Go here to find a video series on the operating system.