Here that sound? That's me doing my happy dance. At long last, Nokia released the Microsoft's update. It upgrades the phone to Win 8.1 (called Cyan for reasons known only to developers) and adds a few much needed features to the phone.
The single best update is the new Notifications and Quick Actions screen. I've envied Android for it's drop down screen that quickly shows you wireless info, access to shutting off/on signals and seeing all your new messages (email and chat) in one spot. Over the last few months, I've found chat one of the most useful tools for communicating with customers. A surprising number will simply whip off a quick text message (my favourite was "OH FUCK WHAT DO I DO NOW") when they have a fast question. Having the chat appear in one place, along with email is convenient. It's one of those small design ideas that makes a smart phone a bit more functional. Microsoft included this feature in their update. With a a quick swipe down, you can use the Action Center from either the lock screen or the start screen. It's nice not to have to unlock the phone everytime I want to take a quick peek at new messages and chats.
The second feature worth mentioning is the increased customization of the start screen. Microsoft added a 3rd row so those of us who could be classified as app horders. I've been able to move all the apps I use on a daily basis onto the top right of the screen so they are quicker to get to. Again, a small thing, but it increases functionality. I've set up, along the right column, all the major apps I use - Maps (I get lost a lot), Hotmail, HERE Transit (an essential if you use public transit a lot). Some people won't like this feature - it does shrink the tiles to accommodate the 3rd row, but for road warriors who constantly access more than 2 apps, it's great improvement.
Along with the third row, is the ability to create folders. By dragging one tile onto another, you instantly create a folder to hold the apps you want to group together. This really de-clutters the screen.
Sharing photos is a bit irritating. I used to tap each photo I wanted to shift up to my Onedrive account and up they'd go. Now, you choose the photos, tap the sync button, choose where you want to send them, choose the folder and hit the ok button. Too many steps for such a simple task. You can set the camera to auto upload to the Onedrive, but that might start chewing through your airtime if you aren't within wifi range. On the upside, you have much more control over exactly what folder your photos go to. You also have the option of loading to Dropbox, and GoogleDocs. A bonus for people who don't use Microsoft's Onedrive.
The camera has had a makeover as well. New icons make it easier to adjust the resolution, ISO, flash etc. It also has an option called Burst Mode - which is an odd way of saying multi shot mode. Tapping Burst allows the camera to take 15 low resolution photos in under 3 seconds. I haven't had a chance to play with it, but it has potential. The new icons and text notification makes the screen easier to read.
There are more tweaks to Win 8.1 worth looking at - including the improved calendar, with embedded weather icons so the update is worth throwing, just make sure your phone is plugged in and you have lot of time. You can't speed it up, so pull out a book, pour yourself a pint and relax.