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 Office 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.
Text 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.
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.
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?