The time for speculation and rumors has finally passed. Microsoft, months after it originally planned to, finally released the Windows 10 Mobile Upgrade. Made specifically for smartphones running Windows Phone 8.1, the upgrade includes tons of new features, new app designs and a Store that works in tandem with the marketplace Microsoft supplies to users on regular Windows 10.
For those running Windows 10 on their notebook or desktop, Windows 10 Mobile will seem familiar, almost boring in a sense. Those that are used to Windows Phone 8.1 will find a software experience strikingly different from what they’re used to, though also undeniably influenced by what Microsoft has done in the mobile space to compete with the iPhone and Android since 2010.
Here are some quick Windows 10 Mobile tips to get you started after you’ve given your Windows phone permission to upgrade.
Send Messages from the Action Center
The Action Center isn’t new in Windows 10 Mobile. Users have been able to swipe down from the top of their display and get a look at all their notifications since Windows Phone 8.1. Windows 10 Mobile does make it easier to act on notifications sitting in the Action Center though.
Instead of tapping on a message or a Facebook update, tap the arrow in the far right corner of the notification to get a list of options. Messages lets you reply without going into the app. Facebook gives you buttons for liking and sharing content.
Swipe Away the Navigation Bar
Many Windows phones getting the Windows 10 Mobile upgrade now have physical Back, Start and Search buttons. Some others use on-screen buttons, sometimes making it difficult to focus when watching a movie or television show on your device.
If your device has on-screen buttons, swipe up from the bottom edge of your screen to hide them. Now you can focus on your video. Note that this works in all kinds of apps, not just those that revolve around video.
Make Windows 10 Mobile Look Like Windows Phone 8.1
Almost every app in Windows 10 Mobile looks very, very different from what Microsoft offered users with Windows Phone 8.1.
You can’t get those apps to look like they once did. If there are features missing that you appreciated, there isn’t a way to get them back either. Your sacred Start Screen is exempt from that though. You can make it look like the Start Screen from Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 8 from the Personalization settings. Just ditch the background picture and go back to having your photos appear in just the Live Tiles themselves. Head to Personalization then select Start in the Settings app.
Use The Gadgets App
New to the Windows 10 Mobile experience, the Gadgets app gives you a single place to control all the little add-ons that you might pair your Windows phone with.
Whenever you connect with a new accessory, the Gadgets app will store a profile of it. It then lets you visit that profile to change how your device behaves whenever it comes into contact with that accessory. For example, you can have the Gadgets app automatically launch Groove Music or Spotify whenever you connect to your car’s stereo or connect to a specific set of headphones – both of which I do.
Look for the Gadgets app in the app list.
Turn On Automatic Quiet Hours
Nothing shatters a night of rest and relaxation like having your smartphone beep and chime repeatedly as you’re trying to get away from it all. Quiet Hours, a feature of the Cortana personal assistant, makes it very easy to ignore messages and alerts during a set time.
Open Cortana by tapping on the Search button. Next tap the menu button in the top-left corner of your screen and select Notebook. Tap on Quiet Hours, and use the Automatic Rules option to decide when you absolutely don’t want notifications from your Windows 10 Mobile powered phone.
Choose Your Windows 10 Mobile Theme
Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows Phone 7 were predominantly dark operating systems. That is, unless you enabled their light modes, which were just black text on white backgrounds.
Windows 10 Mobile drops the text-focused design inside most apps, opting for bars, borders and actual color when it suits an app’s purpose. Light and Dark themes are still available too. What’s more, most apps now include override switches so that you can adjust their theme only. Outlook Mail simply looks odd with black backgrounds. So I turned it back to white independently of the rest of the operating system. Note that this isn’t the case for everything, the Windows Store is just one of the apps that doesn’t have a theme override.
Assign Buttons to the Action Center
Open the Settings app. Now tap on System and Notifications & Actions. From here you can decide which Quick Actions surface in the Action Center and how you want to treat the different notifications coming from your apps. When you want to do more than just turn a feature on or off, tap and hold on its Quick Action button in the Action Center to be taken directly to its settings area.
Update Your Windows 10 Mobile Apps
After you’ve finished your Windows 10 Mobile upgrade, go ahead and dive into the Windows Store. Windows 10 Mobile arrived on the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL in October of last year. Since then, some developers moved to only providing updates to Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile. You’ll want to get the latest apps made for your new operating system upgrade before you go exploring. Some of them will have big changes.
Good luck with your Windows 10 Mobile upgrade.