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Eight things you didn't know your Windows Phone could do

Liane Cassavoy | July 1, 2013
No matter how hard it tries, and how much it improves, Windows Phone just can't get respect. If iOS is like Jay-Z--polished and effortlessly cool--then Windows Phone is like Kanye West --overeager and trying too hard.

No matter how hard it tries, and how much it improves, Windows Phone just can't get respect. If iOS is like Jay-Z--polished and effortlessly cool--then Windows Phone is like Kanye West --overeager and trying too hard.

But there's something to be said for effort: Windows Phone has improved greatly over the years, and version 8 is the best yet. Despite its also-ran reputation, Windows Phone 8 includes some slick features that will make your life a whole lot easier. These may not grab Kanye-sized headlines, but they're still pretty handy, nonetheless. Maybe Windows Phone needs to marry a Kardashian.

Note: All of the following features should work on most, if not all, Windows Phone 8 handsets, but some manufacturers and carriers may have disabled or removed them.

Name that tune

iPhone owners love to boast that there's an app for everything, and there just might be. But sometimes, less is more--especially when you can accomplish the same task without any app. Such is the case with music recognition, a task that requires a third-party app such as Shazam when you're using an iPhone.

But Windows Phone has built-in functionality to identify songs: When you hear a song you like, you simply tap Search, and then select the music note icon. Your phone listens to the tune, and then identifies it for you.

If you really like the song, you'll be happy to know that Windows Phone also takes you right to a store where you can buy and download the track. That's a level of cooperation that even Apple fans can envy.

Send your apologies, in advance
Rock stars and rappers can get away with being late, but for the rest of us, it's just plain rude. Luckily, your Windows Phone can help you avoid this social faux pas by letting people know when you're running late for appointments. It works if you've created a calendar entry with attendees: You select the appointment you've created, and then tap the icon that looks like a rushing person. You'll get a draft message, which you can send as is or edit to your liking. Miss Manners (and your boss) would likely approve.

Speak a new language

Okay, this cool trick requires an app, but it's a free one direct from Microsoft. Download Bing Translatorto your Windows Phone, and you may never feel lost in a foreign land again.

Once installed, it allows you to point your phone's camera at a sign, menu, or any printed text in one of 40 languages, and instantly translate it.

 

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