Windows Phone 8.1 said to add notification center, Siri-like rival

Windows Phone 8.1 notification center and Siri clone
Notification Center needed as much as Windows needed a Start button

The forthcoming Windows Phone 8.1 update may prove that 8.1 is Microsoft's lucky number, as it's reportedly adding a notification center and Siri-like personal assistant to its mobile devices.

The Windows Phone 8.1 notification center will be revealed through a swipe-from-the-top gesture, according to unnamed Microsoft sources cited by The Verge.

Quick settings can be accessed with a short swipe down, while the most recent notifications are listed with a longer swipe in the same direction.

This matches how the Android notification center works and it's a combination of Apple's iOS 7 notification center and command center.

'Contra' to band together a Siri clone

Even faster than changing settings through the new notification center may be asking the Windows 8.1 personal assistant to do it for you.

Microsoft has been testing out its "Contra" technology for a number of months, according to the same report, with the intention of launching a rival to Google Now and Apple's Siri.

It's said to be able to anticipate appointments and map out the time it'll take you to get there according to data that it reads in a non-Scroogled way.

Other Windows Phone 8.1 tweaks

Windows Phone 8.1 is likely to have notification center and Siri-like voice interaction as its main highlights, but there are several other tweaks that should please Windows Phone owners.

The volume controls are said to be split into categories. A phone's ringtone volume can be independent of its media playback volume, for example.

Bing Smart Search is expected to hit Windows Phone 8.1 just as hard as it did Windows 8.1.

Enterprise users will also benefit from added VPN support, and those who enjoy playing music and video on small devices may be listening to songs and watching videos through Xbox Music and Xbox Video apps taken from Xbox One.

Windows Phone 8.1 at Build 2014

The notification center, Contra personal assistant and the other minor tweaks to Windows Phone 8.1 are said to be in internal beta testing right now.

Moving forward, Microsoft is reportedly working to unveil all of these new features at its Build 2014 developer conference.

That means Windows Phone users will have to wait until April of next year to find out how their smartphones will get retooled and retiled with these much-needed features.

Matt Swider