Five features missing from Windows Phone 8.1

Now that the first Windows Phone 8.1 devices are hitting markets we can take a look at Microsoft’s latest mobile operating system and see which features are missing.

While Windows Phone 8.1 is a major upgrade to the platform there are some features, which have been rumored and even supposedly leaked, but never made an appearance in the final release. Here are the top five, collected from stories leading up to the official unveiling of the OS at BUILD.

  1. Swiping tile notifications away

This was covered a few times, and it’s one of the first rumors around Windows Phone 8.1. The whole idea was that you could swipe individual tiles to reset their tile counter and get rid of individual notifications.

This feature never showed up, but of course there is something similar. Dismissing a notification in the Notification Center is also supposed to clear the app’s Live Tile. However, for this to properly work, the apps themselves have to be updated, and so far this has happened for only a few apps.

  1. Redesigned Me Tile

This was another rumor that started early on. Microsoft was expected to change the Me Tile and integrate it next to the home screen. Users would then be able to access the Me section by swiping right on the home screen.

The logic here was sound: easier access to the Me section would allow users to post updates and check in faster as well as check social notifications in the What’s New Tab. This came back to the whole idea of having integrated functions in the OS, but Microsoft is moving away from this.

Of course we did get some improvements in this area with the launch of Windows Phone 8.1, but this is pretty much based on better app integration and little of anything else. Microsoft is definitely heading in the “there’s an app for that” direction.

  1. Much deeper Twitter integration

This is somewhat related to the feature above. Much like Facebook was deeply integrated into Windows Phone, this new release was supposed to bring Twitter to the same level of polish. The idea, when this rumor came about, was that users on WP8.1 wouldn’t need a separate app for Twitter, but that the social network would be deeply baked into the OS.

The What’s New tab that handles social notifications was supposed to now include DMs, and some other extended functions that would make the need for a separate Twitter app obsolete.

Of course this hasn’t happened, and Twitter integration has barely changed in Windows Phone 8.1, thanks to Microsoft refocusing on the app model. This isn’t a bad thing by any measure, but we can’t help but think that one less app to download and set up would have been great.

  1. Windows 8-styled App List

This was one of the very convincing rumors out there, and we have no idea why this didn’t make it into Windows Phone 8.1. This simple feature was even supposedly leaked a few times, so it’s strange it never made an official appearance.

Many folks believed that Microsoft would redesign the App List to have it in closer alignment to the one in Windows 8. Meaning users would be able to organize their apps by Date Installed, or Most Used, etc.

This never showed up and considering how simple but useful this would have been, it’s puzzling why Microsoft decided to give it a pass. Then again, we might see it later this year with the first GDR updates for WP 8.1.

  1. Nokia’s Glance Screen on all phones

This is a double rumor, meaning it started running around a long time ago but it was all but confirmed when Microsoft announced it was purchasing Nokia. Unfortunately it never happened.

The idea was that Microsoft would take Nokia’s Glance Screen and spread it around on all Windows Phone devices, making it a feature of the OS instead of being OEM specific.

This feature has proven to be extremely popular among users, and despite its simplicity it’s incredibly useful, helping you conserve battery life, see your notifications faster, etc. We all hoped this would jump from Nokia to other Windows Phone devices but it seems that’s not the case, and the feature may never come to non-Lumia phones.

Then again, we know that over 90% of Windows Phones out there are made by Nokia/Microsoft, so we can’t argue with the company’s decision here. All of us non-Lumia owning suckers can simply wait and look forward to switching devices.

  1. Bonus feature: File Manager

This was a major feature still missing from Windows Phone and as such many folks were eager to see this arrive with the 8.1 update. The original leaks pointed towards the Onedrive app being used as a file manager, similar to what we have on Windows 8.

However this never happened, and an integrated file manager is not part of Windows Phone 8.1. That being said the “Files” app will launch in the very near future being an official file managing app from Microsoft.

So the feature will still be available on Windows Phone, it’s just not a direct part of the OS. And this seems to be the theme of Windows Phone 8.1, with Microsoft uncoupling as much as it could from the operating system and relying much more heavily on apps.

And while this may seem problematic at first, it’s a great step, one which Android took a long time ago. Creating individual apps for important functions allows Microsoft to continuously update these apps through the Windows Phone Store, instead of having to release an OS update. This allows for more agility, giving users new features and bugs getting fixed a lot faster than before.

What’s your opinion on Windows Phone 8.1? Do you miss any of these features, or is there a different one you think should have been included in the update? Or are you happy with Microsoft’s efforts on WP 8.1? Let us know below.

Some images via Microsoft and WPC

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This list just proves how on par WP8.1 is with the competition. Also, most of these are coming soon before release or were fake/early alpha rumours.

The only real things missing now is:
- universal voice to text in all apps for unlimited length
- actionable notifications
- completely revamped music experience
- new Outlook app (coming with new Office im assuming)
- new Settings screen
- better optimization of baked apps (music, games, calendar, etc.)

But for an 8.1 update, it's an epic update and a major step in the right direction.

I'm a bit disappointed with the extent to which WP8.1 nears W8.1. But I suspect we'll see more unification in design with Windows (Phone) 9. Perhaps Microsoft is still working on Modern 2.0 behind the scenes. And until they have determined how it should look both '8' platforms will keep their own look.

1. Swiping tile notifications. I fail to see the point with this. The live tiles work the way they do for a very good reason--a reason for which far too many fools insisted Microsoft completely VOID by creating a stupid Action Center.
2. Redesigned Me Tile. The version you are suggesting isn't a tile and it's a horrible way to go. As it stands, Microsoft has taken the one tile I used most often and gutted it completely, making it a useless tile on my device now. And they jokingly pretend that what they did actually opened it up to be more useful because of third parties. This is a lie.
3. Deeper Twitter integration. Microsoft clearly is going the OPPOSITE direction and moving toward DISINTEGRATION of social media. Their excuse: they have to do an OS update to change or fix anything that's baked in, so keeping it outside the fence lets faster feature updates happen. As far as I'm concerned, FAIL.
4. Windows 8-style app list. I'd much rather see more of Windows PHONE style show up in Windows 8 than the other way around. Things like "recently used" are what I PIN TO MY START SCREEN. Duh! For everything else, the jumplist and alphabetical list are just fine, thank you.
5. At LAST, something I actually agree with you on: Glance on all phones. Yes, it's sad that devices like the Lumia 930 do NOT support Glance because of the screen tech Nokia decided to go with. I think it's a foul to have a cool feature like that and then not support it on all our models.
6. File manager. Again, a throwback to those who are too Neanderthal to grasp new ways of functioning. Besides, the OneDrive functions well enough if you have to micromanage that much. Not one person has successfully made the case to convince me why File manager is needed on the phone.

Robert.E.Wade said,
1. ... far too many fools insisted Microsoft completely VOID by creating a stupid Action Center.
2. Redesigned Me Tile ..... gutted it completely, making it a useless tile on my device now.
3. Deeper Twitter integration. ... As far as I'm concerned, FAIL.
4. Windows 8-style app list. .... PHONE style show up in Windows 8
5. ....
6. File manager. ... Neanderthal to grasp new ways of functioning...

Are you my long lost relative?

This is EXACTLY how I feel about WP8.1.
The "richer" social integration is really about moving to the Windows 8.1 codebase and opting to support the single feature implementation. Desktop won.

I only hope that it goes the other way too. I hope those working on the phone team get some of their features into the full featured OS. Autocorrect and WordFlow would be my top two. Then maybe it (Win 8.x) could be usable as a tablet OS.

Shadow 024 said,
That's an app that will be released later and available through the store.

I'd expect it to be baked into the core OS that gets shipped to OEMs with an option to download.
Afterall, we're all just running developer preview.

#1 missing feature is full device backup and restore. Leaving settings backup to developers and not even backing up all of the 1st party settings is not enough.

Forjo said,
#1 missing feature is full device backup and restore. Leaving settings backup to developers and not even backing up all of the 1st party settings is not enough.

Why wouldn't they leave that up to 3rd party developers? Supporting full settings backup may require adjustments to the app itself. If so, allowing for flexibility gives developers time to adjust for it while still being able to support other features that are more front and center in 8.1. Despite that, I did a full reset on my Icon with 8.1 and I carried over the vast majority of settings and configuration. Relatively speaking, it was painless.

fiftytwoeighty said,

Why wouldn't they leave that up to 3rd party developers? Supporting full settings backup may require adjustments to the app itself. If so, allowing for flexibility gives developers time to adjust for it while still being able to support other features that are more front and center in 8.1. Despite that, I did a full reset on my Icon with 8.1 and I carried over the vast majority of settings and configuration. Relatively speaking, it was painless.

Oh, you mean how application developers are responsible for data backup on Windows? Oh, wait, that's a desktop OS. What about in iOS?

We are able to move apps and data in their entirety to a flash card in 8.1. There is nothing special about app data that prevents it from being backed up and restored in the OS.

7.x had full device backup -- you just couldn't restore to a different device. Microsoft has gotten really weird about backups lately -- hiding image backups in 8.1, removing snapshot backups. Only in their server products do you get real image backups that are useful. Our phones need this. Losing game progress when switching phones is not cool. And expecting developers who are no longer even updating their apps to magically come back to the platform to add backup to Onedrive capability is ludicrous.

Riva said,
You already get full device backup and restore. At least in 8.1

No.

We don't.

8.1 backs up SOME system settings like the app list. Even your Cortana settings are lost when you do a restore. It's FAR from where it should be.

I have been picking up L520s to hand to clients in an attempt to promote the platform. I have a basic configuration that I run around with to show. When a client expresses an interest, I factory reset and set up the phone for them to try for a few days with their own SIM. I've done this twice and haven't gotten the phones back. :)

I have thus far bought two phones to replace the ones I "sold". In each case I've restored from backup after upping the phone to 8.1. In each case several things do not get restored not the least of which are Cortana settings like quiet hours and interests. Even ringtones are lost.

It's FAR from complete... as I said.

1) Swipe tiles is a very busy UI.
2) Me tile overrated.
3) Twitter or any social network can now deeply integrate their application to the OS if they wished to
4) Glance needs special hardware - I believe
5) File manager incoming

Robbie Ride said,
My ME tile has been MIA since I updated to the 8.1 Preview.

Go to Peoples hub --> tap on your picture --> tap on pin icon

Cosmocronos said,

Nope, it should arrive in June.

Wrong. There are a bunch of file managers in the Store already. The OFFICIAL one is coming in June.

Also, it's silly for this article saying it's missing given that it's coming really soon and 8.1 hasn't even been released yet.

j2006 said,

Wrong. There are a bunch of file managers in the Store already. The OFFICIAL one is coming in June.

Also, it's silly for this article saying it's missing given that it's coming really soon and 8.1 hasn't even been released yet.


Actually I misread the origins comment and thought he was referring to a native, not third party one. As for the latter I tried a couple and , personal opinion of course, I am not impressed at all.

I can't believe not many people bring up the lack of voice dictation on the keyboard. So a user can speak out what they want to type in any text box.

A la the microphone icon on both Android and iOS keyboards.

It's possible through an app called Copy to Clipboard. You can ask Cortana to "Copy to clipboard" and dictate whatever you want to type. Once you're done it will be copied to the clipboard and you can paste it anywhere.

This is the one and only feature that's missing for me. This list is stupid because most if that is coming shortly or were just incorrect/early alpha rumours.

Also - Copy,to Keyboard app is not the same thing.

I know this could be turned on pretty easily. My old WP7.5 phone could do voice to text on SMS, so they just need to enable that everywhere.

1,5 years with a lot improvements (wasnt that hard to find area to improve...)
However:
- still no actionable NFC --> the "revolutionary" improved NFC support in WP8.1 worths sh**, people asked for WIFI / 3G / bluetooth switch ON/OFF via NFC. MS didnt care, they shipped only what they felt important, not what lot of people asked
- no restrict permissions of installed apps --> shame to say, but only Apple had the balls to implement this. Google even removed the functionality in android 4.4.2. On WP, MS doesnt even comment / admit that this privacy issue indeed present
- crippled battery sense --> its there now, but it does worth sh**. Check a current android, and compare the usefullness of that with the uselessness that is on WP8.1
- no auto offline mode / scheduled mobile network shutdown-revive. Cortana has some similar features, but for me its just too much to feed the MS / NSA spy engines with my inputs just to get the stupid quiet hours features in exchange
- File manager: I am skeptic at best, but seriously have no high hopes that this will be a useful app, and not something crippled that bad-hair-girl-belfiore thinks should satisfy 90% of the powerusers.

"However this never happened, and an integrated file manager is not part of Windows Phone 8.1"
I didn't know Windows Phone 8.1 shipped yet(just developer preview), and when it does File manager will be available

Which is a good thing. I don't think that everyone should have the possibility to meddle with files on there phone. Users that want this feature usually know what they are doing and therefore it should remain an optional download.

dingl_ said,
"However this never happened, and an integrated file manager is not part of Windows Phone 8.1"
I didn't know Windows Phone 8.1 shipped yet(just developer preview), and when it does File manager will be available

Devices with WP 8.1 are available in Europe. WP 8.1 is the RTM build and MS will add functionalities and refinements. Note that the above mentioned devices, Lumia 630, also have the Cyan firmware. As for File manager it should B available sometimes in June, therefore pretty soon.

A guy last week confirmed, that the 630 he bought runs the original WP 8.1 dev prev version that was released 1,5 months ago, not even the version that was released 2 weeks ago. So currently there is no device on the market anywhere on planet earth, that runs the proper version of WP8.1.

soder said,
A guy last week confirmed, that the 630 he bought runs the original WP 8.1 dev prev version that was released 1,5 months ago, not even the version that was released 2 weeks ago. So currently there is no device on the market anywhere on planet earth, that runs the proper version of WP8.1.

At least the 630 should have the updated firmware/driver support for 8.1 that older models lack. While the build might be the original one from April it should run better on that device overall.

Gungel said,
.... I don't think that everyone should have the possibility to meddle with files on there phone.....

Agreed.
The app will probably use the same command line feature that exists in explorer.exe today with "root,C:\user\"
(or whatever the real syntax is).

Microsoft VPN Support (IKEv2 for remote access is a joke)

SSTP and DirectAccess should have been there from 7.x, Knowing the Windows Phone team it will be another half a decade before this is possible.

Way to undermine server 2012 remote access boneheads

Edited by TPreston, May 26 2014, 10:51am :

TPreston said,
Microsoft VPN Support (IKEv2 for remote access is a joke)

SSTP and DirectAccess should have been there from 7.x, Knowing the Windows Phone team it will be another half a decade before this is possible.

Way to undermine server 2012 remote access boneheads

It is only a matter of time until VPN will be considered to be a legacy feature with public cloud service offerings. DirectAccess would be interesting but there isn't alot of market demand. Even in private clouds, exposing services through the gateway is fully supported and relatively straight forward through reverse proxy or through dropping a service proxy point into the DMZ. Ultimately, while I am sure there is some kind of use case for mobile VPN, they seem to be less critical for mobile device usage than they would have been 2-5 years ago. Just out of curiosity, why is this an important feature to you?

fiftytwoeighty said,
Ultimately, while I am sure there is some kind of use case for mobile VPN, they seem to be less critical for mobile device usage than they would have been 2-5 years ago. Just out of curiosity, why is this an important feature to you?

From a business perspective phones and tablets communicating with anything and everything on the net and public lan should send shivers down the spine of any IT admin. The more popular these devices become the more threats we can expect (see android)

Every single packet from these devices should be scanned by a secure gateway to mitigate the chance of data loss or attack that includes the http/https (although not the encrypted data just the server fqdn)

For my personal use its important because when at home I control and filter traffic to and from the internet from all devices using a secure gateway. I block up to 50% of the http requests on any page (like buttons, tracking domains, facebook, visitor maps etc etc etc) and I want the same clean browsing experience when im away from home.

That and office are the only things I want from a smartphone.

TPreston said,
.....

Did you check out TechEd sessions?
There are a ton of sesssions highlighting your exact concerns.

As for DirectAccess, I'd say expect that with the threshold release. That's when we'll have 95% compat and feature parity between WP and W8.x.

I believe this to be true since they're all under the same business unit with the One Microsoft re-org.

2 is nonsense and 3 is achievable once twitter gets updated for WP8.1 , 5 is meh and 6 is WIP.
1 was a rumor so I don't think we should ponder over it much , and 4 is truly something which is missing.

I thought that the Glance feature had some hardware restrictions that prevent it from being universally implemented, even within Nokia's entire lineup.

Vlad Dudau said,
Yes something about "screen video memory" or something like that. However higher-end devices should be able to handle it.

Yes, some screens, even higher end ones don't all come with video memory or w/e it's officially called. It's not so much software issue as it is a hardware one, those screens also cost more to use.

The video memory is an issue for the OEM since it's needed to retain Glance info once the phone is locked and the system is put into low power state. It won't be an issue for Microsoft because they have machine level access to the phone.

zhangm said,
I thought that the Glance feature had some hardware restrictions that prevent it from being universally implemented, even within Nokia's entire lineup.

Nokia wants consumers to believe this crap. I dont understand why 1 LCD display made in 2012 October gets this "screen memory" and another LCD display made in 2014 April doesnt. We are going backward as time progresses? Or to increase profit by choosing an OEM that ships LCD without such feature for 1$ cheaper over another OEM that has this LCD screen memory, but costs 1$ more?
Somebody working in the LCD/OLED display industry could confirm that such thing as "screen memory" exists, or is purely a madeup lie to artificially segment the market with missing features even from high-end models.

Hi,
Most likely they are referring to the SoC's video memory, which in some architectures may go into power saving mode when you lock the phone - i imagine that's the cost difference. I'd also imagine that in non-LED phones Glance would consume a sizable amount of power.

soder said,

......

you can't blindly say lcd.

AMOLED (the problem exists at higher resolutions)
IPS (problem doesn't exist, but battery waste makes the feature useless)

Edited by deadonthefloor, May 26 2014, 6:47pm :

They completely made XBOX games a joke, Can not uninstall from there. All games are every where and to uninstall you have to search for it and go. this is a major step back.