Windows Phone 8.1 includes a new and improved collection of "Sense" apps, utilities that take the guesswork out of using your smart phone. These include Battery Saver, Data Sense, Storage Sense and Wi-Fi Sense. And the first four of those can now be pinned to your Start screen for quick access and live updates.

The Windows Phone 8.1 Sense apps include:

Battery Saver. This one debuted as a setting in Windows Phone 8, but it's now available as a standalone app and has been improved in Windows Phone 8.1 with battery usage meters for your apps and a simpler user experience. (Why isn't it called Battery Sense? We'll never know.)

Data Sense. This also debuted in Windows Phone 8, though it's always been a standalone app and is sadly often blocked by wireless carriers that wish to supply their own offering. It looks much like it did before but now includes support for a feature called the Browser Optimization Service (BOS), which compresses images, JavaScript, and HTML text on web pages and reduces data consumption by up to 70 percent. You can also restrict background data, when roaming or not.

Storage Sense. This new app was called Phone Storage settings in Windows Phone 8, and it's been updated with a ton of new features this time around, including live tile notifications about disk space issues, the ability to uninstall big apps directly from within the app, a new interface for installing new apps and downloads on a storage card instead of primary storage, and much more.

Wi-Fi Sense. This new capability is sadly not exposed as a standalone app and is instead accessed through Wi-Fi settings: Just tap the new Wi-Fi Sense button and you can configure your phone to automatically connect to known good (but open) Wi-Fi networks and share all known-good networks (including your home network) with your Windows Phone 8.1-using friends. Known-good Wi-Fi networks even show up in Bing Maps, which is interesting. (I'll be writing more about Wi-Fi Sense soon.)

All of these can be pinned to the Start screen. Well, except for Wi-Fi Sense, which really wouldn't useful there anyway. And that's because they are available from the Apps list. Just find each one, tap and hold, and choose Pin to Start. Voila!