Video of action center, background images, and the new calendar on Windows Phone 8.1

Video of action center, background images, and the new calendar on Windows Phone 8.1
We take unified notifications for granted much of the time. Notification centers on iOS and Android devices are quite useful, and functional. One glaring deficiency in Windows Phone was in the area of notifications.

Live Tiles work fine, but until Windows Phone 8.1 rolls out, their update iterations are limited to every 30 minutes at best. With the new OS, Live Tile updates will happen in real-time which is going to be a very welcome addition.

Rounding out that addition, the Windows Phone Action Center is exactly what you would expect (and is exactly what we have seen leaked). A swipe down from the top of the screen brings down a shade with quick action buttons, and a summary of notifications from apps that support the function.

The notifications are directly actionable, meaning if you see a text message in the action center, you have to tap it while Windows Phone brings you to the messaging app to respond. You can clear the notification by swiping to the right, and there is an option to clear all notices. Moreover, just as is common in many Android devices, there is a button to access the phone settings directly.

Background images, just as we have already seen leaked, works like a charm. The feature will be available across all Windows Phone devices regardless of hardware. The Lumia 1020 we demoed showed no problems handling the feature at all. Selecting a picture is easy, and the parallax effect of the transparent tiles “floating” above the image is subtle and tasteful.

The new calendar is arguably one of the most significant changes to Windows Phone. It is, again, another item that brings parity with other mobile platforms, but the execution is decidedly Windows Phone. The added item? The ability to view your schedule on a week-by-week basis. It is such a small addition, but the result is very nicely done. Those of you who are productivity gurus will really appreciate the enhancement to the calendar.

We will cover more Windows Phone 8.1 features during our time with Nokia later this afternoon. What is your favorite feature in Windows Phone 8.1?

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