An extra column of Live tiles. Windows Phone 8 GDR3


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Muhammad Farrukh

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A couple of days ago we learned that Windows Phone 8's GDR3 update would more likely than not introduce devices with 1080p displays and quad-core processors, to combat Android's popular 'phablet' category of devices with screens upwards of five inches. But the new higher-resolution may present a challenge to the Windows Phone start screen ? just ask any HTC Titan owner how goofy live tiles can look at times on a massive display. Mary Jo Foley of All About Microsoft has heard from sources that the Windows Phone team has a solution: add more tiles!

Building on the previous GDR3 update report, Foley checked in with her own well-connected sources and learned that the Start screen may soon hold even more tiles. She specifically said that Windows Phone 8 may add a "a third column of apps in the start screen" ? which implies that you'd be able to fit three medium-sized square tiles in one row as opposed to the limit of two today. What's unclear is if this additional column will be for 1080p devices or devices with a certain display size, or whether it will be pushed down to the current WXGA and 720p displays.

Foley also offered another morsel of GDR3 gossip, saying that Windows Phone 8's core apps may be updated in the release. While that does not seem like a big deal at face value, it does imply to us that GDR3 will be the 'big' update for Windows Phone this year instead of Blue (which looks increasingly less likely to even be released this year).

At first we weren't too enthused by such a possibility. However once we completed photoshopping the mockup you see above, we started to like the idea more than we thought (though it's really close to the edge of 'information overload' status). How would you feel about more live tiles on new Windows Phone 8 devices with 5-inch or higher screens?

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George P

It makes sense that the UI will take advantage of the bigger overall screen size and show more tiles, it's what Windows 8 does on tablets and PCs right now.

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Muhammad Farrukh

I hope they pass this update down to lower res display phones too. It'll be a nightmare if they dont

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+NJ Louch

How does this differ from when the iPhone got an extra line of icons, and was mocked mercilessly?

I'm not trolling, I am asking a genuine question. Is it because Microsoft do it as it's a "Oh hey we added" as opposed to a "LOOOOOK!!!! ICONS!!!! MOAR!!!!" or what?

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XerXis

How does this differ from when the iPhone got an extra line of icons, and was mocked mercilessly?

I'm not trolling, I am asking a genuine question. Is it because Microsoft do it as it's a "Oh hey we added" as opposed to a "LOOOOOK!!!! ICONS!!!! MOAR!!!!" or what?

I think the mocking of the iphone 5th row was more or less done because it's the only "big" chance to their interface since the iphone 1.

I'm not a fan of the mockup, too many small tiles together, but mixed with some bigger tiles it might be better.

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firey

How does this differ from when the iPhone got an extra line of icons, and was mocked mercilessly?

I'm not trolling, I am asking a genuine question. Is it because Microsoft do it as it's a "Oh hey we added" as opposed to a "LOOOOOK!!!! ICONS!!!! MOAR!!!!" or what?

What I don't understand is that the Live Screen was supposed to be this new anti-icon, information hub everything at the tip of the fingers. However all this point it looks like the android app drawer open all the time with squares instead of nice looking icons. Which all WP people said sucked and how WP was the new generation no-desktop style stuff... seems like it's just becoming an always open app drawer.. or hell even my Android home screen with the widgets being the big tiles, and the small tiles being icons to apps.

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Kyang

What I don't understand is that the Live Screen was supposed to be this new anti-icon, information hub everything at the tip of the fingers. However all this point it looks like the android app drawer open all the time with squares instead of nice looking icons. Which all WP people said sucked and how WP was the new generation no-desktop style stuff... seems like it's just becoming an always open app drawer.. or hell even my Android home screen with the widgets being the big tiles, and the small tiles being icons to apps.

It seems you're comparing the start screen tiles to two different things, and saying it's like both but different. If you've already listed the ways it's different from either, then didn't you answer your own question?

To elaborate, the Android home screen with differently sized widgets isn't a bunch of icons either. So the "WP people"'s "Anti-icon" stance isn't being contradicted there. Regarding the app drawer, if that's just a grid of icons, then like you said, the Start screen is like the Home screen anyway, so the "WP people" aren't contradicted there either.

So I'd really like to try an explain for you, but I'm having a little trouble understanding your question in the first place.

EDIT:

Regarding the article, I dislike the look of this extra row of icons. At least the tiles are resizable. What's funny though is that the article says that the implication of the change is the user will be able to see three columns of medium tiles. But from the mockup image, three medium tiles wouldn't fit. A third column of medium tiles would be cropped on the edge. The article then references the mockup and makes an opinion on the potential look of the start screen, despite the mockup being wrong from the beginning.

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Yusuf M.

I hope they pass this update down to lower res display phones too. It'll be a nightmare if they dont

I don't see why they wouldn't do it for 1280x768/720 devices. I don't think it would be possible with 800x480 devices though. The resolution is too small.

How does this differ from when the iPhone got an extra line of icons, and was mocked mercilessly?

I'm not trolling, I am asking a genuine question. Is it because Microsoft do it as it's a "Oh hey we added" as opposed to a "LOOOOOK!!!! ICONS!!!! MOAR!!!!" or what?

Most of the for the iPhone 5 came from iPhone 3GS/4 users. They weren't happy with how Apple changed the iPhone because they expected a more drastic change.

What I don't understand is that the Live Screen was supposed to be this new anti-icon, information hub everything at the tip of the fingers. However all this point it looks like the android app drawer open all the time with squares instead of nice looking icons. Which all WP people said sucked and how WP was the new generation no-desktop style stuff... seems like it's just becoming an always open app drawer.. or hell even my Android home screen with the widgets being the big tiles, and the small tiles being icons to apps.

The Start Screen is more customizable than the app drawer in Android. The biggest difference are the tiles. They're resizable and some of them are live, meaning they can update with information in real time.

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firey

It seems you're comparing the start screen tiles to two different things, and saying it's like both but different. If you've already listed the ways it's different from either, then didn't you answer your own question?

To elaborate, the Android home screen with differently sized widgets isn't a bunch of icons either. So the "WP people"'s "Anti-icon" stance isn't being contradicted there. Regarding the app drawer, if that's just a grid of icons, then like you said, the Start screen is like the Home screen anyway, so the "WP people" aren't contradicted there either.

So I'd really like to try an explain for you, but I'm having a little trouble understanding your question in the first place.

EDIT:

Regarding the article, I dislike the look of this extra row of icons. At least the tiles are resizable. What's funny though is that the article says that the implication of the change is the user will be able to see three columns of medium tiles. But from the mockup image, three medium tiles wouldn't fit. A third column of medium tiles would be cropped on the edge. The article then references the mockup and makes an opinion on the potential look of the start screen, despite the mockup being wrong from the beginning.

Okay, my appologies for not being clear.

1. WP was all about not having an android/iOS look and feel, hence the whole live tiles on the home screen. The idea was that there would be quick views of feeds, weather, stocks, etc on the main screen without cluttering it with icons and the sort. It was supposed to be clean, clear, and concise.

All of the small tiles and how it looks in the picture above (if there was no big tiles) would look exactly like an app drawer in Android without nice looking icons.

2. The small tiles, and the look of the screen in the main picture looks like a skinned android launcher. Instead of Icons they are small tiles, instead of widgets they are the larger tiles. The only thing I see that sets it apart (based on the above) from Android is that they are square colored blocks and not icons.

There was no question, so I am not surprised that you couldn't find/understand one to answer as there wasn't one. My point however was that I felt that the purpose of WP was a new interface that was completely different to that of Android or iOS. However with things like the small tiles, and more of them on the main screen.. it now (to me) looks like a minimalistic themed Android device.

Can you explain to me why there was all the hype and such about the new tiled interface, new design elements, etc for ui but it is slowly turning into something we already have.

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Kyang

Okay, my appologies for not being clear.

1. WP was all about not having an android/iOS look and feel, hence the whole live tiles on the home screen. The idea was that there would be quick views of feeds, weather, stocks, etc on the main screen without cluttering it with icons and the sort. It was supposed to be clean, clear, and concise.

All of the small tiles and how it looks in the picture above (if there was no big tiles) would look exactly like an app drawer in Android without nice looking icons.

2. The small tiles, and the look of the screen in the main picture looks like a skinned android launcher. Instead of Icons they are small tiles, instead of widgets they are the larger tiles. The only thing I see that sets it apart (based on the above) from Android is that they are square colored blocks and not icons.

There was no question, so I am not surprised that you couldn't find/understand one to answer as there wasn't one. My point however was that I felt that the purpose of WP was a new interface that was completely different to that of Android or iOS. However with things like the small tiles, and more of them on the main screen.. it now (to me) looks like a minimalistic themed Android device.

Can you explain to me why there was all the hype and such about the new tiled interface, new design elements, etc for ui but it is slowly turning into something we already have.

Ah.

Starting with icons, the difference is that small tiles are supposed to be more informative than icons. Icons might have a number badge, and admittedly, most apps with small tiles only do this as well. However, the potential is there for much more informative changes, like a number, plus a color and icon change to convey new information. Easiest example would be a weather tile, changing from blue, with a sun, and a number for the temperature, to grey, a cloud, and the new temp. An icon could probably do this too, and indeed a popular iOS example is the calender icon, which changes the date, but a regular icon is often more rendered, meaning that a screen full of shifting changing icons all trying to do the same thing as a Start screen full of small tiles do, would likely be even more cluttered and difficult to read.

So the stripped down appearance of the tiles is not just about looking minimalist (although for many, that's also a big draw), but it also works with the functionality of that tile, in ways that a traditional "nice looking" icon would be less suited for. The tile can basically do more with less. From that starting point, the tiles are also resizable, as everyone knows, allowing the user to scale as much or little information as they want from the tile's respective app. The hype for the new design elements is part of an understanding of the bigger picture of where and how they're supposed to work with the intended functionality of the Start Screen, which as you understand, is supposed to be a personalized information hub.

Compared to something like the Android home screen, the differences are a little smaller, since widgets are more informative than icons, and are also resizable in most cases. Personally I'm not so sure the Start screen with tiles offers as great a functional advantage over widgets, like it does over traditional icons, but I would say that the Start screen is more readable, navigable, consistent thanks to its strict adherence to the grid layout, compared to the looser organization of pages of widgets on the Android home screen.

All in all, I'd say whatever it's gaining in terms of functional similarities is smaller compared to how it's all organized and presented. For me, the smaller tiles are just plain better and more functional that a traditional icon, and the larger tiles are better presented and organized and more consistent than the average widget.

I realize this explanation probably makes it sound like a minimalist theme Android device can basically match the whatever advantages I listed for the Start screen compared to widgets, but I'd still give the points to the WP overall because third party apps also follow the new design elements in Metro more consistently, compared to a minimalist Android theme, which basically only affects the OS.

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+NJ Louch

So I'd really like to try an explain for you, but I'm having a little trouble understanding your question in the first place.

All the squares... They're really just representing shortcuts with tiled icons. That said, this is a mockup, and one way you COULD use it.

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Kyang

All the squares... They're really just representing shortcuts with tiled icons. That said, this is a mockup, and one way you COULD use it.

Regarding all the squares, see my response above. Regarding the mockup, yes, as I said, I'd probably be resizing the tiles. :) .

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MorganX

Can you explain to me why there was all the hype and such about the new tiled interface, new design elements, etc for ui but it is slowly turning into something we already have.

+1

I agree. They have to be careful not to cancel the benefit of live tiles by creating a jumble of squares. You'll basically end up with a bunch of square monotone icons, that all start to look the same, with badge notifications. If they want more on the home screen it may be time to consider containers.

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George P

Since you yourself can set the tiles in any way you feel like it it's not really up to MS to show you how or what the right way is. Calling them icons isn't true, not unless you make them all the smaller size and leave it at that. With the middle and double wide size then we're talking about more. It'll be very interesting if they add the newer bigger size we've seen in the blue leak and how MS takes advantage of it.

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  • 1 month later...
M_Lyons10

I think the mocking of the iphone 5th row was more or less done because it's the only "big" chance to their interface since the iphone 1.

I'm not a fan of the mockup, too many small tiles together, but mixed with some bigger tiles it might be better.

Agreed. WP has continued to evolve. This isn't the only thig they've changed...

And I'm not sure how I feel about this. Hopefully at the very least they only make tis extra row available to very large screen devices... Because it would be less than usable on smaller screens. Then all yo'll have is people complaining because their Live Tiles are too small...

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Gaffney

I quickly made a better mockup using a Galaxy Note 2.

post-312200-0-82524800-1368918235.jpg

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mdtaUK

If they are going to do this, I hope it only takes affect when the physical screen size is beyond the 4.7" range, because even if the screen resolution is 1080p, the small tiles will be too small to tap comfortably.

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greenwizard88

How does this differ from when the iPhone got an extra line of icons, and was mocked mercilessly?

I'm not trolling, I am asking a genuine question. Is it because Microsoft do it as it's a "Oh hey we added" as opposed to a "LOOOOOK!!!! ICONS!!!! MOAR!!!!" or what?

because people wanted an ios phablet and got another row of icons instead.

Here, Microsoft is saying 'if you want to use higher specs, we'll just tweak the settings slightly'. Its a small but subtle difference.

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IntegralDerivative

iphone 5 all over again, eh?

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BajiRav

iphone 5 all over again, eh?

Kind of seems like it but not really.

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