Windows Phone Windows Tablets - 27 February 2013
Author: Jim Szymanski

Surface_AlwaysConnected

It took two years for Windows Phone to offer the option to keep Wi-Fi running when the phone is sleeping. Hopefully it won’t take as long for Microsoft to include the option to put Wi-Fi asleep when my Surface RT is sleeping. The reasoning is the same as for Windows Phone, and every other mobile device.  Everyone uses their devices differently.

For Windows Phone, the reasons for keeping Wi-Fi on all the time could vary from; avoiding data plans, keeping your MB download count low to avoid exceeding your limit, or to reduce your battery drain by turning off your data connection. For the Surface RT, and any other Windows 8 tablet device with ACM, turning off Always Connected Mode has nothing to do with Carrier limits. But it has everything to do with conserving your battery.

I have a phone that’s nearby and on all the time, 24/7. I receive messaging, email and other app related alerts all day. By virtue of my phone I feel that I am already “Always Connected”. I don’t use my Surface RT everyday (yet). It’s always in my bag, but I might only turn it on every other, or third day. Usually after using my Surface, I will fully charge it before stowing it away. Because of Always Connected Mode though, when I go to use it the next time, the battery level can be anywhere from 30% to “critically low”. Meaning that in order to use it, I need to tether it which sort of defeats the whole tablet thing. Right?

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I know. I can put it in Airplane Mode each time I stow it away, and it will last for weeks in my bag without a charge. But that requires a; swipe, tap, tap, tap, wait, each time I am about to turn off my Surface. And then a swipe, tap, tap, tap, wait, to turn Airplane Mode off each time I wake the device up again. (Note: Ironically, in Desktop mode it’s only a tap, tap, wait, to toggle Airplane Mode on/off). Wouldn’t it be a lot easier to have a toggle below Airplane Mode that says; Always Connected Mode – Off / On. With ACM Off, all I would need to do is close my touch cover or tap the power button to put my baby to sleep and save energy. Do I really need to hear my bag singing all day and night each time a synced email or app alert arrives, usually while I am already reading it on my “Always Connected” phone.

Hopefully Microsoft does not make us wait till Blue, or later to correct this energy waster. Or, maybe I just need to conform and use my Surface RT every day so I can put it on charge every night. That might happen when my entire desk surface is equip with wireless charging. Or better yet, when charging current is simply passed through the air and small children are protected by lead bubble suits.









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(8) Readers Comments

  1. You should have the option to easily switch into a mode that preserves battery power. The more the user has to do to achieve their goal the less pleasing the experience is. Its a hassle is what the current situation is.

    You can really tell the difference between the Windows Phone team and the Windows team who handles RT and Win8. The RT team can’t seem to get out their way fast enough and seem to refuse to implement seemingly easy solutions.

  2. Jim, Microsoft’s consumer feedback department set their Google Alerts to detect remarks directed not at Microsoft but M$FT and Micros~1 (my favorite), so perhaps you should change the title.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but what you’re asking for is more options. Doesn’t that complicate things? Also, the LTE versions of the Surface RT may not benefit from leaving wifi on as with LTE their cellular data connections are always on.

    See what I did there? (It’s a joke as there are no broadband-capable Surface — just a USB slot for which the possibilities are limitless of course.)

  3. OK, is that better. Sure it’s an option. But by default they can leave it turned on, and 50% of users will never know it’s there. The rest will have one less thing to comment about.

    BTW, I know it’s anecdotal, but so far everywhere I have used my Surface RT I have had access to a Wi-Fi connection. Haven’t taken it the beach or on a camping trip yet though, If I do, I can always active tethering on my phone for a month. But the always connected thing would kill the battery before I got to use it anyway.

  4. If they just gave devs access to the wireless states and I could have an on/off toggle I’d be happy enough but there is no API that gives this access. I constantly turn on/off airplane mode. Effing annoying.

  5. Well while I hear your complaint, you lost my respect when you put $ for S in MSFT. Good Luck.

    • I understand and would generally never use this vulgar term, but if as Mr. Simmons suggests, it gets Microsoft’s attention, then I am willing to risk it for the good of all. On the other hand, if I discover that I am simply being led by the ring in my nose, it may be time to drop the gloves.

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