Cortana makes Windows Phone 8.1 great: Here's how to get it on any WP8 device


Microsoft just released the Developer Preview of Windows Phone 8.1 for any and all Windows Phone 8 devices. This update is not available to the general public yet as it’s primarily intended for developers to get a headstart at implementing WP 8.1’s new open APIs within their apps. However, for those who are itching to get their hands on the latest version of Windows Phone, there’s a simple method in which that can be accomplished. What’s more, we’ll even show you how to get Cortana up and running on your device, even if you are outside the US.

 

Caution: Before you proceed, do keep in mind that installing this update could void your warranty and the biggest caveat being that you cannot roll back to v8 if you wish to. I’m guessing you could rollback by flashing your phone with the stock firmware but we haven’t tried this method out yet. This XDA thread will give you detailed instructions on how to flash any Nokia Lumia device to the stock ROM.

 

Finally, we at Tech2 are not responsible if you mess things up. Even though the process is mostly foolproof, we are not liable for any damages that might occur during the process so proceed only if you’re absolutely sure of what you’re getting into.

 

Now that we got that out of the way, here are the steps you’ll need to perform in order to get WP 8.1.

 

Step 1 – Sign up as a developer

Head to appstudio.windowsphone.com and click the big blue button on the right which says “Start new project”.

 

 Cortana makes Windows Phone 8.1 great: Heres how to get it on any WP8 device

Sign up as a developer

 

 

Step 2 – Sign in with your Microsoft Live account

Next, you’ll need to sign in with your Microsoft account. This is the same ID you use to sign in to OneDrive, Windows Live, Outlook.com, etc.

 

Sign in with your Windows Live ID

Sign in with your Windows Live ID

 

Step 3 – Download the ‘Preview for Developers’ app on your phone’

Head to the Windows Phone store and download the ‘Preview for Developers’ app. Open the app, sign in with the same ID you used to login to the Appstudio website from Step 1 and agree to the terms and conditions.

 

Get the app for your phone

Get the app for your phone

 

Step 4 – Check for updates

Next, go to ‘Phone update’ in the Settings menu and click ‘Check for updates’. Before installing 8.1, your phone will most likely download the 8.0.10322.71 update. This is to just to prep the phone for 8.1. After a reboot, head to ‘Phone update’, check for updates once more. Now, the Windows Phone 8.1 update will download and install automatically.

Now just update your phone and you should be good to go

Now just update your phone and you should be good to go

 

That’s pretty much it really. Once your phone boots up, you’ll be on the spanking new Windows Phone 8.1 software. Remember that this is still a preview so there might be slight kinks here and there, as the final version won’t be out till a couple of months. We’ve tried this on a Nokia Lumia 920 and it worked just fine.

 

Bringing Cortana to life

We’re not done yet though. One of the highlight features of WP 8.1 is Cortana – Microsoft’s version of Google Now or Siri. Unfortunately, this feature will only be available for the US initially and there’s no time frame for when it will come to India.

Cortana works pretty well with a neutral accent. Not bad for a Beta app

Cortana works pretty well with a neutral accent. Not bad for a Beta app

 

The good news is that you can easily circumvent this by doing the following steps:

 

Step 1 – Change the region in settings to ‘United States, English’ and reboot.

Step 2 – Change the language to English (United States) from settings and reboot once more.

 

Now, head to the app list and you should have Cortana present. You can activate her by simply pressing the ‘Search’ capacitive key on your phone. As you use your phone, Cortana will learn you usage behaviour and also prompt you with suggestions and alerts, just like Google Now.

 

We’ve only just started playing around with Cortana and other Windows Phone 8.1 features and will be bringing you an in-depth review of the new OS soon. In the meantime, you can check out a detailed look at what’s new in the OS here. We also have a sneak-peek into Nokia’s upcoming Lumia 630, which will feature Windows Phone 8.1 out-of-the-box. The handset is likely to debut sometime in May for an estimated price of about Rs 12,000.


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