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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 Windows Phone 8: The Complete Review Windows Phone 8: The Complete Review Question: how do you improve on perfection? Answer: you wait for someone else to have a go. A quick look around the smartphone market reveals that Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems are top... Read More when it was launched in 2012.

General Usability

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).

wp8-issues-notifications

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…

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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 How Does Windows Phone 8 Improve On Windows Phone 7? How Does Windows Phone 8 Improve On Windows Phone 7? Read More . 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.

Connectivity Gripes

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 Start Screen Shortcuts - Connection Tiles For Windows Phone 8 Start Screen Shortcuts - Connection Tiles For Windows Phone 8 Windows Phone has one or two frustrating omissions. One of these is an easy toggle button to enable and display wireless networking, mobile Internet, Bluetooth pretty much anything concerning communication. Rather than a simple on/off... Read More , they only send the user to the specific settings page, where the connection can be enabled or disabled.

wp8-issues-wifitoggle

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).

wp8-issues-bluetooth

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.

wp8-issues-sound

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 How To Add, Receive, Create & Manage Custom Ringtones For Your Windows Phone How To Add, Receive, Create & Manage Custom Ringtones For Your Windows Phone One of the most frustrating things for users of the Windows Phone platform upon its first release was the inability to set custom ringtones. Fortunately this is one of the areas in which the Mango... Read More 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

  1. Wayne
    March 3, 2014 at 12:52 am

    Exchange email: I have 20+ folders that have mail automatically moved to via rules but the email client can't sync all of those folders and notify me when I have new mail in one of them?

  2. Bernhard
    February 15, 2014 at 9:53 am

    Lack of VPN, (s)ntp or gps time sync,
    The backup function is a joke.

  3. Theo
    December 8, 2013 at 8:21 am

    metro - too much wasted real estate and unnecessary paging

  4. farhan
    December 5, 2013 at 6:02 pm

    send files and videos through mail...

  5. Patrick Foley
    December 5, 2013 at 2:51 am

    Group texts. WP just doesn't get that right.

  6. Symen
    November 9, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    Urgently need printing ability ota

    • amy
      December 4, 2013 at 4:32 pm

      i print by emailing what I want to print...to my printer. A PITA but it works.

      I also wish there was an easier way to click with wifi and Bluetooth on and off. I HATE the volume options.

      I love that I can take pictures without unlocking my phone.

  7. Michel
    November 1, 2013 at 11:06 pm

    I really miss An adobe flash player to Be able to run a school training Application wich now only runs on a P.C.

  8. jay
    October 23, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    nit picker!

  9. Chif
    October 23, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    For me the biggest problem is the not adjustable sms tones. When I'm in the car or at work I can't hear my phone.

  10. Evan
    October 23, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    A notification center would be irrelevant given that the entire home screen functions as one. That's the purpose of Live Tiles. Complaining about a lack of one is missing the point, I never miss a notification because my home screen shows any for apps that I have pinned there, which are also the apps I use, which are also the apps I would get a notification for.

  11. Augustine Correa
    October 22, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    Fully agree with the above and my 2 cents below:

    1. The search button is not contextual i.e. if you are in the App store and want to search for an app...if you click on the panel search button, you are exited from the App store and taken to the default Bing search page. [Nice to have : If I can customize the search button to use Google as the search engine instead of Bing....Steve Ballmer will lose his gasket if you mention this in front of him :-)]

    2. Also I like the cross icon available in Android text boxes by which you can delete in one swoop the existing content in a textbox instead of the present way of deleting the whole text by backspace.

  12. Joro
    October 22, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    The calendar is bad, it was even better on my old Qtek (Windows Mobile)...it lacks a good monthly-overview (readable).
    The e-mail client doesn't let you change text in a reply-message. Really annoying.
    Sound volume is for all, there is no volume for media only.
    You can't easily say download a pdf-file, and then attach it to an e-mail.
    If the e-mail is HTML and has images you have to download, every-time. Why?
    The built-in handling of pod-casts is terrible.
    No profiles?
    And the usual complaint...I am missing a couple of apps I have gotten used to... :(
    Well I got more draw-backs, but these are the ones that pop into mind. Been using WP for 2 years now, Windows Mobile before. Enterprise user, so maybe I have different req. though. :)

  13. Scroogled
    October 22, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    Apps coming to Windows Phone in the next few weeks: CamScanner, ESPN F1, Instagram, Vine, InNote, Nokia Camera, Nokia Storyteller, Papyrus, PicFeed, Plex, Smart Resize, SophieLensHD, Xbox Video, Vyclone Pro

    Games coming: Asphalt 8: Airborne, Danger Dash, FIFA 14, My Talking Tom, Rabbids Big Bang, Rail Rush, Rayman Fiesta Run, Temple Run 2

    Hope more developers take Windows Phone more seriously now that top apps are coming.

  14. Matthew H
    October 22, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    My biggest complaint when it comes to Windows Phone 8 is that the email client is utterly, unrelentingly dire. Treating all emails with the same title as part of the same thread? Come on.

  15. Justin D
    October 22, 2013 at 2:46 pm

    Spot on. This covers nearly all my gripes with Windows Phone 8. I think Microsoft really needs to add something like Unification, as you mentioned. Something like the Notification Drawer/Quick Settings in Android or the Control Center in iOS 7. Being able to pull down from the top/bottom of any screen and quickly toggle WiFi/Bluetooth/other options is a breeze.

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