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September 3, 2015

10 things you never knew your Windows Phone 8.1 could do

Your Lumia smartphone is full of useful features, most of which are easy to discover. Some are not so obvious, though. Here’s our top ten:

1. Recognize that tune

Without any additional apps, the preinstalled Cortana personal digital assistant (available in select regions) can lend an ear to recognize the song that’s playing in the background.

All you need to do is select Cortana, touch the music icon at the top, and wait as Cortana analyzes the sounds.

Once recognized, you can purchase your new favorite song in just a couple of clicks.


2. Block unwanted calls or texts

How many of those PPI scam phone calls have you had this year? Dozens, I bet.

You can block them easily if the caller phones you, or text messages you, without withholding their number.

In the caller history, hold your finger down on their number and select the “block number…” option. There’s the capacity to block up to 1,000 numbers, should you unfortunately ever need to.

You can also automatically block all calls with withheld numbers. Under Settings, select the Call + SMS Filter option and then tap the “advanced” box. Now toggle “Block withheld numbers” to the on position.


3. Type accented characters

While you’ll have your keyboard language set to your own, you may from time to time like to include words such as à la carte, jalapeño, or syntymäpäivä.

To find accented characters without switching on a different language keyboard, press and hold on some of the letters to find an alternative.


4. Share your location, privately

Not everyone likes to share where they’re having dinner for their 500+ Facebook ‘friends’ to see. Fortunately, there’s a more private way to do it.

While composing an SMS, hit the attach (paperclip) icon and select ‘my location’ to have your Lumia’s GPS track where you are. Then press send.


5. Listen to podcasts using the built-in app

If you’re a fan of podcasts, then you’ll probably want to use the built-in Podcasts app.

This’ll save you needing to download any additional apps and will have you listening to your favorites in no time.


Be sure to check out our five best entertainment, health and fitness, business, technology, news, funniest, and food and cooking podcasts.

6. Limit your data usage

By taking advantage of the Data Sense feature on your Lumia, you’ll never go over your data allowance again.

Take a few moments to enter some numbers, such as when your monthly allowance resets and the maximum number of MBs or GBs. You can also restrict the background and roaming data usage.

To set this up, open the Data Sense app from your list of apps or go into Settings and select the Data Sense option. You can also pin the Data Sense app to your Start screen to see your cellular and Wi-Fi data usage at a glance.


7. Internet Sharing

Sometimes you’ll need an extra data connection when things go wrong at home, school, the office, or even on the train.

“Internet Sharing” essentially turns your Lumia into a mobile hotspot to which other devices can connect. To activate, go into Settings and select Internet Sharing.

You have full control and can set up a unique password for connecting, but remember that anybody connecting through your Lumia will be using your data connection.


8. Take a screenshot

Most of the images in this story were created by taking screenshots on a Lumia 640 XL. But other Windows Phone 8.1 devices can do it, too.

Here’s how to do it: Pressing the volume up and power keys simultaneously will save your screen to your Photos hub.

In what scenario might this be useful? Well, for us on Conversations it’s essential. However you can also use it to capture and share those funny autocorrect fail text messages, boast about the weather on your vacation using a weather app, or just share your Start screen set up with your pals.

9. Sync your settings across your other Microsoft devices

If you’ve got a family of Microsoft devices, including Windows Phone 8.1 smartphones, PCs, and tablets running Windows 8 or later, it’s best to activate syncing.

If you do, you won’t need to re-enter Wi-Fi passwords or purchase your in-app content again, and your favorite websites will be waiting for you to re-browse. What’s more, your color themes will also be shared across devices.

To activate, go into Settings and select Sync My Settings.


10. Activate quiet mode – part of Cortana

When it’s time to go to bed, it’s easy to forget to switch your phone to silent. Let your Lumia and “quiet mode” do it for you automatically.

Under Settings, go into the Quiet Hours option and set the times and days for quiet mode to activate. When active, nobody will be able to get through to you.

Should an emergency arise, a useful security measure allows you to create an inner circle of people that can override quiet mode and reach you.


Did you know about these features? Are there more you’d like to share? Let us know, below.