Tip o’ the Week #238 – quiet hours on Windows Phone 8.1

clip_image002The time of year has rolled around where many of us are travelling – maybe time for a last, late Summer Holiday. Now, if you take your phone on vacation, you’ll know how important it is not to have colleagues phoning you up in the middle of the night to ask where you are.

Even if you’re not on holiday but you’re in a different time zone, it’s uniquely annoying when trying to deal with jet lag, that people phone you at 9am where they are, when that’s 4am in your locale – especially if you forget to turn your phone off. Even if you switch to silent mode, the blast of light from the phone screen in your darkened hotel room could be enough to wake you up…

ToW #209 covered an addition to Windows 8.1 that lets you set a time window for the machine to stop making noises at you.

Well, here’s another reason to upgrade your handset to Windows Phone 8.1 – as well as giving us sassy Cortana for searching and providing us with information we didn’t know we needed, The Blue One also has the capability to not just silence the phone at set times but to allow certain people to manage to breakthrough. Far out.

The options are all pretty self-explanatory; the inner circle settings will suggest contacts you might want to add, though it’s worth steadying the hand on adding too many.

Whenever quiet hours is active, the phone will not ring, and there will be no notifications (i.e. no switching the screen on, showing notification dialogs, or making any sound). Calls go straight to voice mail – just as if the phone is switched off. Text messages arrive silently and if you set it up, the texter gets told you’re busy and won’t be texting back.

If someone on your inner circle calls, then it will ring – ditto texting – and if you have the Alarm app set to wake you up then it too will do its thing, scientifically designed soundscape and all. The quiet hours setting will only show up on your phone if you have Cortana enabled, and is also off by default.

For those readers outside of the US, enabling Cortana either means switching the phone (after upgrading to WP8.1) to being English US language & locale, or else waiting until Cortana is localised and arrives on the phone naturally – it’s being reported that UK, China and India (with variants for Australia and Canada too) will get their own Cortana versions in the first update to Windows Phone 8.1, which should be out in the wild “soon” . Developer versions are now available.

However you get her in your life, Cortana is going to be a killer app for Windows Phone 8.1 and beyond, and quiet hours/inner circles is just one of the key components.

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