We heard you got that shiny new Nokia Lumia smartphone and have been using it just for messaging, calling and the occasional Facebook stalking.
Now really, that’s not all it’s capable of, especially with the Windows Phone 8.1 update. Don’t let your phone be a sad panda, make sure you try these features to work that smartphone magic.
No more disappearing notifications. Just swipe down from the top of the screen, and you’ll see your incoming emails, messages, and social network notifications in one list. Plus, there’s also a small settings icon, so you can jump straight to the settings menu without navigating through the main menu.
How to use Action Centre:
- swipe downwards from the top of the menu to reveal the action centre
- swipe right to clear a notification
- to change the five quick actions at the top, go to settings, followed by notifications + actions and select your preferred feature for each action icon
While Cortana won’t be appearing on your phones just yet, you have the next best thing - Bing. Microsoft’s search service is more than a rival to Google. It’s also deeply integrated with the phone’s functions. Need to translate a text? You don’t even need to type the words in. Just click on the magnifying glass icon, use Vision, scan text and let it translate. Amazingly, it translated 90% of our cover story headline.
How to use Bing:
- click on the search button, denoted by a magnifying glass
- type your search words in the search box, or click on the microphone icon to activate voice search
- click on Vision, denoted by the eye icon, to scan barcodes, QR codes, books, CDs and DVDs for Bing to search on the Internet
Automatic backup to OneDrive
Too many photos and too little space? You can either buy a microSD card, or rely on the automatic backup option that links to OneDrive. This isn’t limited to just photos and videos, you can also backup messages, apps and settings to Microsoft’s cloud storage.
Backup tips for OneDrive:
- go to settings and select backup
- make sure the backup options for apps+settings and text messages are turned on
- for photos+videos, it’s advisable to select best quality for backup of both photos and videos. Doing so ensures that the phone will perform a backup only when it’s connected to a Wi-Fi connection.
Weather forecast in Calendar
You can’t control the weather (unless you’re Storm) but at the very least, you can get a somewhat accurate prediction of Mother Nature’s mood for the day. The Windows Phone 8.1 update adds weather forecast to your calendar, showing you the temperature and likely weather conditions. But it definitely won’t be cloudy with a chance of meatballs, just your usual sun or rain in tropical Singapore.
To view weather in calendar:
- go to settings and select location
- turn on location services
- return to the calendar app, and you’ll see the self-explanatory weather icons beside the dates
Integrated social network newsfeed in People app
Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Three social networks that you check every day, but in separate apps. What if we told you Windows Phone gathers all that in one app? We know it’s hard to believe, but the People app does just that.
To gather your newsfeed:
- Activate the People app
- Swipe to the What’s New tab
- Tap below What’s New and select your preferred social networks to appear in the feed
Parenting 101: the best way to keep your kids entertained, is to let them play with the phone. Fact: you’re not going to let them run rampant with your phone and send gibberish through email, Facebook or Twitter. That’s what Kid’s Corner is for. It creates a separate user interface and you designate which apps are accessible in that UI. Don’t worry, your own UI is password protected, so they can’t sneak in an app purchase without your knowledge.
How to activate Kid’s Corner:
- go to settings and select Kid’s Corner
- select apps for your kid to play with
- on the lock screen, swipe to the left to activate Kid’s Corner
- return to the lock screen, enter your password and you’ll be back at your original home page
You see 99 notifications on that app, waiting for you to clear. But they’re just numbers, you won’t even know if someone has sent you a life-or-death message without diving into the app. Not if you’re using Windows Phone 8.1. Its Live Tiles feature shows a preview of the notification, so you can take a quick glance at that recent Facebook comment on the home page.
To see more info on Live Tiles:
- press and hold a tile on the home page
- increase the tile size to the biggest possible
Word Flow keyboard
Typing can be a real chore, especially when you’re doing it with one thumb. On Windows Phone 8.1, you won’t have to tap on the keyboard. Just let the thumb flow across each letter and watch the word magically appear. No more incredibly embarrassing typos, not to mention faster typing speeds to impress someone with your faster-than-lightning replies.
Did you know:
- a completed word can trigger an emoticon to appear. Type smile and you’ll get a smiley face. Try typing other words like dog, cake and plane to get different icons
We’ve all been there before - the battery is almost drained, but you’re not done with your Facebook stalking. Battery Saver to the rescue, we say. And the good thing is, you can trigger it at any point, it doesn’t have to be saved for those low battery emergencies. Better yet, you can track which apps have been a power hog, and restrict it from running in the background.
Tips for Battery Saver:
- let it run when the battery is low, there’s no point in using a phone with limited functionality
- instead, go to menu, followed by battery saver and swipe to the usage tab. Monitor apps that have been sucking up the juice and prevent them from running in the background
Can’t decide where that newly downloaded music or photo should go? Let Storage Sense do the thinking. Technically, you are still in control of where your files go. You get to decide if new multimedia files, photos, apps and downloaded files go to the phone storage or microSD card. This is also where you’ll be monitoring your storage space and doing housekeeping when it’s packed to the brim
- delete files that have been automatically uploaded to your OneDrive account
- leave apps in your phone storage, you can’t do anything with it when you access it on a microSD card via a PC
- put your music and video files on the microSD card to transfer between devices more easily
Can’t shake the feeling that you might have exceeded your data limit? That won’t be a problem when you use Data Sense to monitor your data usage. Like Battery Saver, you can prevent apps from running in the background and sucking up your precious data.
Did you know:
- you can reduce data use when you’re browsing the web. Go to Data Sense, tap settings and under Browser data savings, choose automatic and it’ll compress image downloads, block ads and download part of a web page.