Nokia Lumia 920s and Lumia 820s on AT&T’s wireless network in the United States are about to become competitive with Apple’s iPhone almost overnight. Early this afternoon AT&T Wireless announced that it’d begun deploying Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8.1 update to the Lumia 920 and Lumia 820.
As of now Lumia 920 and 820 users can head to their phone’s Settings app and the Phone Update area to check and see if the update is available to them. As is customary with Windows Phone updates, Windows Phone 8.1 for the Lumia 920 and Lumia 820 on AT&T will roll out to users in stages until everyone has it. So for example, if a device isn’t showing the update as being available now, that doesn’t mean it won’t be available a bit later. In fact, eligible Lumia 920 and Lumia 820 devices on AT&T will notify users when they’re ready to be updated.
Naturally, uses are excited for Windows Phone 8.1 to arrive on the Lumia 920 and Lumia 820. Part of that is the sheer amount of Windows Phone users in the United States who have either of those devices. The Lumia 920 and Lumia 820 were sold on AT&T brand new until fairly recently. When they debuted they set the standard for elegant design and exclusive features. The Lumia 920 absolutely decimated sales of other flagship Windows Phones from HTC and Samsung.
Windows Phone builds on top of many of the advantages these devices had when they arrived on store shelves. The Lumia 920 was the first Windows Phone to include PureView imaging technology. The Windows Phone 8.1 update for the Lumia 920 includes new camera processing algorithms and an updated Lumia camera experience.
Announced earlier this year, Windows Phone 8.1 is all about filling in the large feature gaps that made Windows Phone devices less viable than iPhones and Android devices.
Some features are designed so that using Windows 8 and Windows Phone makes more sense together. Account passwords, Wi-Fi details and Internet Explorer browser history and favorites sync between Windows 8.1 devices and Windows Phones running Windows Phone 8.1. In many cases, apps that are purchased on one platform are available for the other at no additional charge. Even Live Tile accent colors are synced between multiple devices effortlessly.
A new file system now lets users download content directly to their device and then move it to different folders. There’s a new gesture based keyboard for quickly inputting text without lifting a finger. Tiles can be made transparent so that users can put a picture as their background. That’s a level of customization users have hoped to get for years.
Most important of all the feature additions is Cortana, the personal assistant that Microsoft created to take on the iPhone’s Siri and Google Now. Like Siri, Cortana has a personality and you can dictate searches to hear using your voice. If it’s something integrated, Cortana will read the answer then and there. If she can’t find it she’ll get users search results. Like Google Now, Cortana actively learns more about its user. Over time the personal assistant will learn where you work and live and let you know how long it’ll take to get there. If it’s a major appointment she’ll even remind users to leave early enough to get there on time.
With the Windows Phone 8.1 update now available on the AT&T Lumia 920 and Lumia 820, attention now turns to T-Mobile and Verizon. T-Mobile’s Lumia 925 has yet to receive the Windows Phone 8.1 update officially. Neither has its low-end Lumia 520 handset. Early this month the carrier announced that it’d release the update sometime before the end of 2014. Verizon’s Lumia 928 also remains without the Windows Phone 8.1 update.