A few blog posts ago I compared the voice interface of the Windows mobile phones, Cortana, with Apple’s Siri and Google’s Google now. Along with many new features, Microsoft has also announced that in Windows Phone 8.1 update people in China will be able to use the local version of Cortana, the voice-enabled smartphone assistant. Of course, the actual spoken language is Mandarin which is supposed to be the most widely spoken language in the world (because the sheer number of people living in China). China is a humongous market and perhaps that’s why the latest update has been announced in Beijing.
The “Halo” icon that comes with Cortana has been altered for the Chinese taste. As you can compare both the icons, the version for the rest of the world simply has an illuminated ring (although it looks good) but for the Chinese version, it has a cute oval shape with two eyes (do more Chinese like cute things compared to people in other countries?). Here is a comparison between both the versions of Cortana icons:
The local versions of Cortana on a trial basis are already being distributed to people in India, Australia, Canada and other countries. There is a huge demand for mid-range phones in developing countries and the new Windows Phone 8.1 update comes with complimentary features such as dual Sim devices that support both GSM and CDMA networks. It also supports a qHD 960 x 540 resolution which is better for mid-range phones and easily scales up to 7 inches without distortions.
Another feature that is being considered a very big deal by the Windows Phones users is the introduction of Start screen folders that enable you to group together related apps and files. This is something that I have already seen in Android devices – within one single icon you can club together various applications to better manage them. It is like a suit in a normal computer application – something like Microsoft Office products are grouped together under one menu.
Here is a nice, comprehensive review of the Windows Phone 8.1 Update.