It’s been a little over a month since I first starting using Windows Phone and I still love it more than any OS I’ve used so far.  There are several small things I’d like to see added eventually, other than the biggies like copy/past and multitasking.  These are all minor changes, and mostly cosmetic.  I don’t think Microsoft would have too much trouble implementing these changes, and I believe they would greatly enhance the user experience.  Here’s a short list of simple things that I think would make Windows Phone better, in no particular order:

Outline Theme Mode

Considering almost half of all Windows Phones sold in France so far have AMOLED screens, I suspect the numbers for the Focus in the US will be even higher considering its competition here in the States isn’t as pretty as in Europe.  At this point, I feel Microsoft should make dark themes widely available to users throughout the OS.  Currently, huge titles of color blanket the home screen.  And while i find it nice and simple, in dark conditions this can be blindingly bright.  Also AMOLED screen burn the least amount of power when displaying black, so black should be used whenever possible to increase battery life for this large chunk of users.  I think something akin to the mockup I made would be nice.

Auto Theme Changer

I’ve noticed that white backgrounds are much easier to read outdoors than black ones.  But I generally find white backgrounds too bright at night.  A nice solution for this would be if Microsoft added an option to let the phone switch between white and black backgrounds based on user set times.  For example, I could set my phone to automatically change to white every morning at 8AM and back to a dark background around 7PM.  Alternatively, there could be a separate option to allow the light sensor to automatically decide when to use white and black backgrounds as well as control brightness levels.

Dark Versions of Windows-Phone-OutlookOffice Hub and Email Client

The Office Hub and email client are two of my most used and favorite parts of the OS.  In fact, I’m writing the rough draft for this article in the Office Hub.  However, I really think a dark theme should be made available for the office hub.  In contrast to displaying black, AMOLED displays use up the most power, more than a typical LCD, when showing white. While i understand Microsoft’s desire to have office look like it’s PC counter part, the abundance of white kills battery life for us AMOLED users.  At the very least change the Hub background to black and leave Word’s background white.

Windows-Phone-Msg-SearchText message search

I love the way text messages are handled in Windows Phone.  I know people have complained that the sent and received messages are hard to distinguish because they share the same color, but I’ve already gotten used to it.  I really love how it allows me to scroll through all of my previous messages seamlessly without having to hit a load button or wait in any sort of way for the archived messages to appear even when i have over 1000 in a single thread.  That being said, i wish i could search within a thread for keywords.  Its hard to find and old text message when I have so many saved on the device.

Personal Hubs

People seem to want more control over their home screens because the current iteration doesn’t allow for easy navigation when you have a lot of tiles.  Some have suggested additional horizontal home screens.  I hope Microsoft doesn’t implement this.  The beauty of Windows Phone is in its elegant simplicity. An addition home screen would detract from that and would confuse users who are used to seeing the application list when swiped.  I think Microsoft’s best solution is build on the hub idea and allow for personalized hubs.  Users can then place tiles within the hubs.  This would save people from having to choose what makes it onto the home screen and what doesn’t.  At some point Microsoft could allow devs to have direct access to personalized hubs. Then social networking, news, and media apps can pull data straight into the hub without having to launch into the app itself.  If you want more in-depth details, then you can launch directly into the app from the hub.  Not only would this eliminate clutter on the home screen but would make navigating apps more convenient  and seamless than on any other platform.

Windows-Phone-ToastCalendar Alerts

Currently, when I get a reminder for an appointment, I get a popup window that allows me to choose to snooze or dismiss.  While it gets the job done, I think a more elegant solution would be to use toast notifications across the top of my device instead.  All I really need to see is the name of the appointment.  This way, it doesn’t interrupt whatever it is I’m in the middle of doing.  If I want to dismiss the reminder, I swipe it to the right, just like when you ignore a text message.  If you do nothing, the reminder is automatically snoozed and will pop back up after the designated amount of time.  If you need to see the details of the appointment, like location, you could click on the toast and the calendar could open the particular appointment card.

System Volume Separate from Ringer Volume

Some people like having only 1 volume control for the phone, and it goes with Microsoft’s simple motif, but having only one master volume level can get really annoying.  For instance, if I want to watch a movie at night, I don’t want the phone to be blasting at full volume.  But, if I turn the volume down, I have to remember to set it back to the proper level before sleeping.  This also means I cant  fall asleep to songs on my phone because it will be either too loud for me to sleep, or the alarm in the morning will be too quiet to wake me.  I had this problem while playing games as well.  I think ringer, notification, and alarm volume should be separate and independent from everything else.  This would solve many of my problems with sound levels.

Do you guys have any suggestions on what should be incorporated into the OS besides the obvious ones like multitasking and copy/paste? 


  1. well done, I think swipe from left should be like the ZuneHD and show previous programs, that way programs in the back stack can resume from there, and then there is even less need for true multitasking

  2. Its been mentioned before but Microsoft should really implement tap & hold for the Back button. Use that to access recent program/action list.

  3. @jimski, I think I can do without pop songs randomly blaring in public…I think that’s the worst thing to happen to the phone since they became portable…annoying ringtones…I’m totally fine with my Glide tone…

  4. Oh, and I wouldn’t mind some of your suggestions, but I like my non-oversaturated colorful Start screen. Change the background color every few days. And don’t think it would be as easy to read small type “white on black”. That’s what I had on my Osborne computers back in 1982, although much lower resolution, and don’t really want to be reminded of those days.

    Your Personal hub idea is interesting. Maybe a dev can make a Favorites app hub with a tile on the Start screen so one tap to open favorites and one tap to select an app. I could live with that. But definitely need the metro alpha search tool for the Apps hub. Up to 115 apps now and as i don’t think I have Gorilla glass, afraid I may wear down the spot on my screen where my thumb has to flick, and flick, and flick, and flick again to get to YouTube.

  5. @Danny Lam: I hear you. But I can easily associate a song with a particular caller, so I know who is calling without looking at the phone. It’s inevitable, either legally or illegally so just get it done already. Yes, I do laugh as some of the crap I hear coming out of phones. But I promise my phone will never offend anyone, unless you really don’t like hearing; Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, Judy Garland, Jimmy Buffett, the Drifters, etc.

    On the My Idea for WP7 App, the top 5 ideas by votes:
    -Custom Ringtones – 4,325 votes
    -Flash support – 2,779
    -Copy & Paste – 2,737
    -Multi-Tasking – 2,444
    -Turn by Turn Navigation – 1,686

    so the people have spoken.

    BTW, separate volume control has 1 vote, although I like the idea (but may complicate things for people) and 4 votes to customize the dimmness/brightness controls (too bright in dark, although not for me).

  6. I can’t wait for jimski’s top 5, especially offline turn by turn navigation. I loved CoPilot on WM! The app hub concept is great. I definitely need some way to better organize my apps like I used to do with folders.
    I’d also like the simple option to get rid of the default reminder on new calendar entries. I’ve kind of given up on native task and to do list, but can we get full support for Exchange so that I can get my work calendar out of outlook without jumping through Google? My last wishlist item is support for the multiple calendars in Live, like Android does for Google calendars. The birthday calendar on Live is great, but I have to open a browser to see it!

  7. In addition to the obvious (and important additions), I would really like my phone (Surround) to answer to the phone when I answer WITH the phone – as opposed to the BT headset (which I answer by pushing its button).

  8. I don’t understand why anybody would want Flash on a phone? Or for that matter, why they even want it on their PCs. Flash is full of security flaws (like most Adobe software). Since I’ve had a Windows Phone 7 device the day after launch, I have never even thought once that I would ever want Flash on my phone. With YouTube playback working just fine with the YouTube app, there’s no application that requires Flash on the phone.

  9. @Kacey Green:

    That has got to be the most functional suggestion I’ve ever heard. It’s not intrusive and it probably be the best solution to not having multitasking that I have seen but I do think it should be mapped to tapping and holding the back button.

  10. Home Screen: I think having the option of 3 smaller tiles across, instead of 2 tiles would be better. To get a visual, just press and hold any of the tiles, and see how they get smaller? That would be cool to have smaller tiles if I so chose.

    Separate System Volume: AGREED! An easy and cool quick-access implementation would be when I press one of the volume buttons, there would be a circle-encased system volume icon just to the left of the circle-encased ringer mute (“ring”) icon.

  11. Yep, I miss my HTC Commercial ringtone.

    @D-Money: Three smaller tiles across might as well be a fruit phone. Would really take away from the live tile’s impact. I had considered half height tiles for simple stuff like phone, messaging or mail accounts, but I think it would take a way from the look. Best to leave the Start screen just the way it is, maybe adding additional colors for themes.

  12. @jimski and D-Money, I had thought about adding a 3rd column as well, but it wouldn’t be the same, plus the 2 column tiles would get all wonky and then MS would have to reorganize all the tiles and the devs would have to rewrite their tiles to fit the smaller pixels. Too much confusion and incompatibility for it to be practical.

    I’m sure ringtones will come eventually, as well as native flash and silverlight support in the browser. What I want most of all is for MS to release the APIs devs need to take advantage of more of the phone. Not having APIs for simple things like LED flashlight control is just sad…

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