Windows Phone has been around since 2010. While take up of the platform has been encouraging in the UK and Europe, it’s a different story in North America. Could this be due to lack of features? What are users missing in Windows Phone?
I’ve written extensively about Windows Phone 7 and 8 since 2011 and genuinely enjoy my Nokia Lumia handset. Simultaneous exposure to other mobile platforms like Android, iOS, WebOS and Blackberry, however, has given me a strong insight into Windows Phone’s failings. As pleasurable a user experience as it is, some features found on other platforms should really have been included with Windows Phone 8 when it was launched in 2012.
One of the main complaints about Windows Phone 8 concerns the implementation of the notification centre. Appearing as a red flash across the top of the screen, notifications don’t tend to hang around for long, and cannot be repeated. Although the standard action is to tap to open or swipe to dismiss, if you’re not around to see the notification, you’ll miss it (although unlike other issues listed here, this can be resolved with an app like Unification).
It might be argued that the lock screen options offer enough to make the notification centre redundant; however, if you don’t have the right apps configured for the lock screen then this becomes irrelevant.
Another problem comes with the rotation lock – or lack of it. While most non-Start screen views and apps can be rotated according to your phone’s sensor, the lack of a lock can make checking emails, text messages and the web troublesome when laying down. From a personal point of view, I’d like to see a landscape version of the Start screen, but as this is something that Microsoft has been holding out on from the launch of Windows Phone 7, I don’t expect to see it any time soon…
While support for more video types might be great, this isn’t perhaps as important (thanks to desktop conversion software) as one of the other gripes.
For some reason, editing text seems to be less precise in Windows Phone 8 than in Windows Phone 7. I would like to see this addressed, quite soon, even if it means adopting a whole new approach. It suddenly seems easier to enter text incorrectly too, although in fairness I’m not a regular user of the predictive text system as I prefer to type.
Tapping WiFi, GPS, mobile Internet and Bluetooth connections – and perhaps even Internet sharing – would be much simpler with a single button to toggle the function. Although shortcut tile apps exist for Windows Phone 8, they only send the user to the specific settings page, where the connection can be enabled or disabled.
Wouldn’t it be so much better to simply tap a Start screen tile to connect to the web instantly, with a single action?
A curious omission from Windows Phone 8 is OTG support. While available on Android and previous Nokia handsets (not to mention the old Windows Mobile), Microsoft has for some reason so far blocked the ability to read/writer USB storage and connect a mouse or keyboard to phones running their OS.
Resolving this omission – as they have with allowing the installation of apps from microSD cards (depending upon your device) – would certainly bring the platform into line with Android.
Windows Phone Bluetooth Drawbacks
Bluetooth support is limited on Windows Phone 8 to hands-free devices. While support for these is good, the platform excludes HID keyboards, which combined with the lack of OTG means that the only way you can enter text on a Windows Phone 8 is with the software keyboard (unless your device has a hardware keyboard).
Bluetooth file transfer is also limited, with unnecessary connection drops and limits as to what can be transferred – and to what devices. Don’t try using a Windows Phone 8 handset at a photo printing station, you’ll be leaving disappointed!
Volume And Audio
On a Windows Phone you can turn the volume up… and you can turn it down again, across the device. There are only two audio profiles, one for all sounds the apps (native and third party) make, and another for adjusting the volume of phone calls.
Unlike other platforms, Windows Phone is missing multiple, customizable profiles, enabling you to – for instance – control the volume in a game while not affecting the volume on the rest of the phone. While many games have their own audio controls, this isn’t the most effective way of dealing with the problem.
While custom ringtones can be used and assigned to individual users, it would also be good if SMS tones could be customized along similar lines.
Conclusion: What Do You Think Is Missing From Windows Phone?
Now, it is perfectly possible to get through standard day-to-day use of Windows Phone 8 without any of these features. However, as Windows Phone 8 was touted as being a next generation platform – that is, Microsoft indicated that it would be on par with iOS and Android – then the vast majority, if not all, of these features should have appeared last year.
Although there are apparently some improvements coming in the shape of Bluetooth support and a rotation lock in the coming GDR3 update, it would seem that there is still scope for improvement.
What about you? Apps aside, what would you like to see added to Windows Phone?
Image Credits: K?rlis Dambr?ns Via Flickr