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Hands-on with the full release of Windows Phone 8.1 and Lumia Cyan

Microsoft is actively rolling out Windows Phone 8.1 after three months of being in preview mode. The Lumia Cyan update is also coming to supported Nokia devices.
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By Matthew Miller, Contributor on
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1 of 15 Matthew Miller/ZDNet

Windows Phone 8.1 and Lumia Cyan on a Nokia Lumia 1520

The launched in April and I loaded it up on my Nokia Lumia 1020. My awesome just received the official Windows Phone 8.1 and Nokia Cyan updates yesterday morning and it looks like the .

Windows Phone 8.1 improvements

The major new feature of Windows Phone 8.1 is and I have come to find it much better than Siri or Google Now over the past couple of months. I especially love the location-based reminders that let me make shopping lists appear when I arrive at the specific store applicable to that shopping list.

In addition to Cortana, Windows Phone 8.1 brings:

  • Quiet hours and Inner Circle in Cortana
  • keyboard
  • Start screen backgrounds
  • Backup and sync options
  • Internet Explorer 11
  • Updated Calendar application
  • Wi-Fi Sense, Data Sense, Storage Sense, and Battery Saver
  • Installed and updated apps show New in app list
  • Speed Dial under Phone utility
  • Live lock screen beta

There are many more improvements in Windows Phone 8.1; check out the Microsoft announcement with all the details. After using the Developer Preview, I just couldn't even use my Lumia 1520 again when I took it back to 8.0 as I waited for the 8.1 update to hit my device. Check out my screenshot gallery to see how some of these improvements look on a Nokia Lumia 1520.

Nokia Lumia Cyan improvements

Most Windows Phone devices are Nokia Lumia devices so most of you will also see the Lumia Cyan update. Windows Phone 8.1 provides backend support for some of these improvements, while others are related to Nokia's work to make their devices even better.

Lumia Cyan improvements include:

  • Bluetooth Low Energy
  • Motion data
  • Living Images
  • Dolby sound improvements
  • Miracast support
  • Improved camera performance

I am particularly interested in checking out the improved camera software and Bluetooth LE support that will finally allow me to use my Fitbit, and hopefully Pebble, with my Windows Phone devices. WPCentral has more details on the Lumia Cyan update.

More ZDNet Windows Phone 8 coverage

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Cortana beats Siri and Google Now

You can use Cortana as a voice control assistant, as well as a personal assistant showing you what matters to you each day.

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Action and Notification Center

Microsoft strikes the right balance of notifications, actionable shortcuts, and quick settings access.

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Start screen backgrounds are slick

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Backup so you are always ready to go in case of failure

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Sync across Microsoft devices

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The reading mode in Internet Explorer 11 is awesome

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The new Calendar app provides handy views

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Wi-Fi Sense helps you get and stay connected

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Data Sense helps you manage your connections

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The Live lock screen beta is pretty slick

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Bluetooth Low Energy support is finally enabled

Fitbit looks to be the first to support the new BLE mode on Windows Phone. My Fitbit One now syncs perfectly and I look forward to future Pebble and UP24 support too.

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Motion data is now supported

Your Windows Phone can now track your steps and share this data with apps written to collect it from your phone.

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Living Images capture more of the story

Similar to an HTC One Zoe, Living Images capture movement before and after your still image capture. This adds a bit of life and context to the image you captured.

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Dolby sound improvements are provided in Lumia Cyan

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