The latest Microsoft update for mobile devices, Windows Phone 8.1, will come with two key changes–a notification centre and Siri-like personal assistant, according to TheVerge. The software giant is currently beta testing Windows 8.1 internally and plans to reveal the complete details at Build Developer Conference in April, 2014.

The notification bar is said to be similar to what we see in Android and iOS. Users can reportedly access it by swiping down from the top of the screen. A short swipe will show a new quick settings tab while a longer swipe will display the complete notifications history. Another key feature is the already rumoured “Cortana” personal voice assistant.

The new Start screen

Highly anticipated changes on their way

We’ve been hearing about Cortana for a couple of months now, and it is most likely to replace Bing voice in the Windows 8.1 update. It’s said to be quite similar to Google Now and Apple’s Siri. The personal assistant brings “conversational interaction and the ability to learn location context and data from the phone”, says the report.

While these two were most requested features, Microsoft will also be adding other features to WP 8.1 such as separate volume controls, allowing independent ringtone volume and media playback controls. There’s also the Bing Smart Search and VPN support for enterprise users. Microsoft reportedly also plans to separate built-in Music Hub in Windows Phone 8.1, and Xbox Music and Xbox Video will ship as separate apps for WP 8.1. This treatment will be meted out to a lot more of the core Microsoft apps going forward, according to the report.

Social apps like Twitter and Facebook are expected tol extend the People Hub further in Windows Phone 8.1. Yesterday, a leaked screenshot has also hinted at the company mulling on-screen buttons for its upcoming devices.

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