Concept: Fixing Windows Phone, step by step

A lot of people have a lot of different ideas about Windows Phone 8 and how to improve on its shortcomings. A few days ago our own Andy Weir posted a feature on what he would like to see with the next major update to Windows Phone 8.1; look for the easter eggs in the screenshots ;)

This post is no different, and offers subtle but worthwhile tweaks to make Windows Phone more productive. It was put together by Simon Polthier who contacted Neowin about his concept for his idea of a Windows Phone update.

First up is the Windows Phone search, which is a personal annoyance for me, even accidently clicking it loads Bing when you'd normally expect it to allow local searching on the phone or app that you have open. 

Windows Search

  • Shares all features of the Windows 8.1 search.
  • Keyboard pops up automatically once the search button is pressed.

 

Charms

Double tap the Windows-button to open charms.

  • Settings: Toggle wifi, bluetooth, brightness etc. or launch the app settings.
  • Share: Unified sharing.
  • Devices: Print etc.

Swipe up from the charms bar to open the notification center.

 

Multitasking

  • Swipe right in the multitasking view to open notifications.
  • Swipe down to close an app.

 

Settings

  • Phone: Improved usability by adding icons.
  • Phone: You can reorganize the list.
  • Camera: Improved the experience of adjusting settings.
    Currently it takes 5 steps change the exposure time, plus you have to remember to reset afterwards.

These are just a few of the ideas behind the concept, and Simon has even created a Windows Phone app called zero-to-hero which lets you explore your unplayed and most played songs that you might want to check out. 

View: Fixing Windows Phone, step by step | Images courtesy of Simon Polthier

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46 Comments

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The only one of merit is swipe down to close. The rest, meh, again.

I really don't get the search complaints or fixes though. I could see search becoming more universal, but its not broken due to no device search. Popping up the text box also doesn't make sense since they added the extended left/right swiping.

Nice concepts. One idea that MS should borrow/steal from Nokia is the Fast Lane, which integrates notifications, replying in line, upcoming calendar items, previous apps opened.

This would be a nice way to get a notification center, but add other natural work-flow functions, paving the way for a Google Now-like assistant. Check out the Nokia video on the Fast Lane below:
http://youtu.be/TZ0DrNSR5Tc?t=57s

When are they going to add a voice-to-text button on the keyboard so we can use this functionality across all applications??

I think its the cloud integration limits on length, an Outlook message could get long and frustrating. I would like to see more apps take advantage though.

Really don't get the notification centre bit myself. The whole start screen acts as a notification centre most of the time.

Trollercoaster said,
Really don't get the notification centre bit myself. The whole start screen acts as a notification centre most of the time.

Not for those of us on 920s that have Live tiles go dead randomly. Also, it's not the same because if I get a FB toast notification and I don't look right away the only way I can tell what happened is to open my ME tile or the FB app. For other apps forget it, you have to open the app to see what the notification is for. For apps that don't do a good job letting you know right away once the app is open you might not ever find out what the message was for. A notification center solves this issue and should be top 3 on their priority list. There's no excuse for it not being there.

M_Lyons10 said,
Not really groundbreaking by any means... I hope Microsoft has some better ideas honestly...

MS has tons of great ideas; just take a look of the clips about Office in 2017 for example.
The issue is just a tiny amount of them become real products and, when they do, usually are quite watered down compared to the original vision which is really a pity.

Notifications are the biggest one. We recently had an amber alert broadcast but good luck trying to find it after that popup closed.

wv@gt said,
Once the pop up closes just check your text message tile, its all there

Not everybody like to have all their apps pinned to the start screen, or scroll up and down.
People who do not like a notification center do not have to use it, the ones who like it will.
Nothing wrong addressing the need of the widest possible audience.

Fritzly said,

Not everybody like to have all their apps pinned to the start screen, or scroll up and down.
People who do not like a notification center do not have to use it, the ones who like it will.
Nothing wrong addressing the need of the widest possible audience.

So you dont even have the Messaging app pinned to your start screen? That thing is done by default. So you would have to unpin it manually. Really, how hard is it to pin your most important apps to the start screen.

Kunal Nanda said,

So you dont even have the Messaging app pinned to your start screen? That thing is done by default. So you would have to unpin it manually. Really, how hard is it to pin your most important apps to the start screen.


Did I ever specifically mentioned Messaging? My point was about pinning apps in general...
And how hard is to understand that different people may have different preferences? I do not use FB but I do not have a problem if the capability to use it exist?
Choice and,flexibility is what made Windows the,dominant OS.....

wv@gt said,
Once the pop up closes just check your text message tile, its all there

That makes sense, I didn't realize it was a text because the delivery was so different. There was buzzing and stuff haha

Fritzly said,

Did I ever specifically mentioned Messaging? My point was about pinning apps in general...
And how hard is to understand that different people may have different preferences? I do not use FB but I do not have a problem if the capability to use it exist?
Choice and,flexibility is what made Windows the,dominant OS.....

So you'd rather launch a separate screen entirely to check your notifications, then just pin all the appropriate tiles to the start screen and scroll down to them? Seems like splitting hairs a little.

headsoup said,

So you'd rather launch a separate screen entirely to check your notifications, then just pin all the appropriate tiles to the start screen and scroll down to them? Seems like splitting hairs a little.


Personally, yes I would; I do not like a cluttered start screen. Again, people who do not like do not have to use it.

Some great ideas there, I like!
However I think Notifications should be a swipe to the left from the Home screen, we have Apps on the right, so why not Notifications on the left?

Why does everyone forget about the ****ty inbuilt facebook chat? Or the nonexixtent realtime chat in the official facebook app. It don't get it.

Because it isn't official at all, it was added by Microsoft (not Facebook). The share options in the "Me" hub are intentionally basic, at least that's what I always thought.

Doesnt matter who added the app. Bad enough that Microsoft doesnt get this fixed as a big player. And I dont mean the Me-Hub, but the Messages-Hub.

This stuff makes it always difficult to me convincing friends to switch to WP. Every other platform can do this right.

It is fixed, at Microsofts end. The people to blame for the integrated Facebook Chat are Facebook but they don't seem to care that it isn't fixed at their end.

MikeChipshop said,
Another vote for unified search. It's everywhere else so why not WP8?

Because MS is slow at updating WP (Nokia and others have noted this) and carriers tend to slow things down. It'll happen give it time.

pcweber111 said,

Because MS is slow at updating WP (Nokia and others have noted this) and carriers tend to slow things down. It'll happen give it time.

I'm thinking there's more to it than that. It should have been there from day one, even on 7.5

I'd love to get zune back, but I'd settle for a decent feature upgrade every year or two. But it's been 3 years since anything crazy happened - Mango - and at this point I don't care if they make the start screen a unicorn with a rainbow coming out of its behind, anything would be an improvement.

greenwizard88 said,
I'd love to get zune back, but I'd settle for a decent feature upgrade every year or two. But it's been 3 years since anything crazy happened - Mango - and at this point I don't care if they make the start screen a unicorn with a rainbow coming out of its behind, anything would be an improvement.

ummm, mango happened a year and half ago... The entire "metro OS" will be 3 years old...

greenwizard88 said,
I'd love to get zune back, but I'd settle for a decent feature upgrade every year or two. But it's been 3 years since anything crazy happened - Mango - and at this point I don't care if they make the start screen a unicorn with a rainbow coming out of its behind, anything would be an improvement.

Mango happened in 2011 (so, less than 3 years ago), and last year the crazy thing was moving windows phone to the Windows Kernel. I imagine 8.1 is going to be a features release, and a huge one at that.

If you are saying it is the biggest fail, it would be better to give the reasons why along with a proof.
I am not living in US and it works find and met my needs, however there're improving it and bringing more features

I still think WP search should be a bar that overlays over the current app/content on screen. That would be less intrusive and more like RT/8. If you accidentally hit the search button you could tap in the center to return back to the app.

Universal searcg powered by Bing should be standard. It's rediculous that it isn't at this point. Xbox and Windows have it as well. If it isn't part of Windows Phone Blue then I'm losing faith in the guys running this thing.

I also agree that Windows and Windows Phone should be more similar. It's strange that Microsoft has one OS for tablets, laptops and full PCs and another for phones while tablet and phones are more similar (especially 8''). It gets strange when you realize the full PC OS has its user interface hidden to open up more screen for content while the phone OS has the UI visible on its smaller screen. Hopefully the merger of the Windows and WP team will mean the merger of Windows RT with Windows Phone.

I know at some point RT and WP may merge, but we need RT to have more functionality than WP, like snapping horizontally and maybe vertically. Also, Windows has a big footprint that WP devices may not have. WP runs great on most hardware, by RT doesn't. Also RT still needs to be able to import and edit photos/videos from WP and be able to sync like that.

The way I imagne it is an UI that adapts to the screensize. So on a tablet sized screen the UI offers more options (such as snapping) that arent available on a small screen. Basically the successor to RT/WP is Windows on ARM.

Your right about the footprint though. So for the time being they can keep a limited version of Windows on ARM for phones and cheap tablets. However I think they should plan ahead for the merger of RT and WP. Starting by creating one UI for phones, tablets and larger PCs. Even if phones arent ready to run full Windows on ARM.

Not sure how it's "strange." Apple is the same way, as is Google with their Chrome/Android split that don't even share much code or platform basis. MS is actually the most unified platform.

petrolly said,
Not sure how it's "strange." Apple is the same way, as is Google with their Chrome/Android split that don't even share much code or platform basis. MS is actually the most unified platform.

What I mean is that the platform split is between phone and tablet. Whereas Google and Apple have one OS build for touch & mobility and one for larger devices and traditional input. Tablets and smartphones share a lot more then tablets and full PCs.

Microsoft strange choice now leaves a hole in their line up: 8'' tablets. Windows RT is too bulky to run on cheap tablets that can be competitive with Android. WP8 isnt designed for 8'' either. Especially the app design won't translate well to such a screensize.

I figure the best answer to this problem isnt just to update WP8 or RT to handle 8'' better. The answer to be on step ahead and create a UI that adapts to all screensizes and resolutions. They're alrready doing it with 10'' and beyond. And with the Windows and WP team united they are in the position to realize it.

Bing search is the most useless thing especially when most features are 'US only'. You would think that MS would improve it especially when outside US (EU and Asia) is where WP8 has started gaining marketshare. I wish i could replace it with another search engine.

Talal AlReyami said,
Don't you know the default search can be changed!

the default search in IE can be changed, the search button will always open Bing.

So set a Google Search Live Tile up high so it's one of the first tiles you see on your home screen if it really matters that much. I doubt MS is willing to give integrated search away to Google so this is the best workaround for those that want Google. I do that as I find Google search on WP works better than Bing search quite a few times.