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What’s Not to Like About WP – I Can Think of a Few Things


Let me start by saying I really like my new Windows Phone. Ok, not being totally honest; I love my new WP7. I was very hesitant about jumping on the WP bandwagon, especially so early but I am glad I did. The User Interface flows from one screen to the next without a hiccup and everything is fast, really fast. So fast, I have even gotten comments and drop jaw stares from longtime iPhone users. I am sure the 1Ghz processer has something to do with that, but the optimized UI is definitely helping. Damn, this is the first phone that connected first time, no questions, with all of my BT devices. And I am glad they did, because there are absolutely no BT settings, just turn it on, pair, and off you go. Everything ties together beautifully and I can honestly say that setup and learning curve can be calculated in minutes, and not too many of those. This is definitely a phone for all ages.

So what’s not to like. Well we already know about things that are missing, like; cut & paste, multitasking, navigation and custom ringtones (and alerts I hope). And they all have been “unofficially’ promised in future updates. But how about some of the things that have not been talked about. I have compiled a short list of “dislikes” during my first week of Window Phone blissfulness, so here it goes:

Battery Icon – What is with the little AA battery icon. All I can tell is if I am full, almost full or almost out of gas. Please give me the option to view the display in %, like 99%, so I can better manage my battery usage and clearly identify any unexpected draining.

Voice Commands – What happened to some of my old favorites, like; What is my battery level? or What is my signal strength? With voice commands maybe I wouldn’t  need the first request. And I used to use Show John Doe to look up addresses or notes in the past. Now all I can say is Call John Doe and get a list of numbers.

People Search – I guess Microsoft wanted to move Windows Phone away from being a business centric device but did they have to go so far. Search criteria only filters by First Name, Last Name and no longer looks at Company. So if I want to find the number for my Insurance office, that I may only call every couple years and usually only need to call when there is a “real emergency”, I have to remember than my inside sales agent is Mary Smith. I whittled my contact list from 300+ down to 100 names for this new phone, but that’s still a long list to manually search through.

Character Count – What happened to text messaging character count? It’s not there. If you exceed a single message letter count, the counter will popup to tell you how many characters you have gone over, but by then its too late. Don’t know about you but when I was sending a longer message on my Tilt 2, I would watch the count and if I only had 13 letters left, I would cut it short. I suppose this feature was part of the negotiation with Microsoft and the cellular providers. Build up those messaging units so everybody has to get an unlimited plan. Ingenious. UPDATE: Ed (see below) pointed out that the screen count actually does appear after you have reached 130 characters. I didn’t know that. Neat trick. Guess I was so frustrated not seeing it at first I never bothered to look back. As Emily would say, “never mind’. And thanks Ed for the tip.

Monthly Calendar – What’s with the 0.0005 point text on the monthly calendar. You can’t pinch to zoom to actually see what’s there, so what good is it. I can’t tell if I have one appointment or two or maybe it’s just one of those holidays I forgot about. I know the interface is all about black & white so color coding is out. But what about a number, like 1 or 2 or 3, or maybe the time of the first appointment, something meaningful. Tapping the icon to see what’s on the next screen seems like a waste of time to me.

Where O Where, Did All My Tasks Go – Probably the biggest adjustment I have had to make since adopting WM as my new OS is the total loss of Tasks. I learned how to manage tasks with my Franklin Planner, and then on to Palm Pilots and my Franklin Planner Software and finally Outlook when Pocket PC/Windows Mobile arrived. Now Microsoft wants me to forget them as if they never were. How do I do that. There is not enough string at the bakery to remind me of the things I have to do. And as this brain of mine becomes more and more cluttered I am depending on Tasks and reminders even more so. Windows Live has ToDo’s. It’s not very robust but its something. Contacts and Calendar sync with Windows Live. Why not ToDo’s. And I know, there’s One Note. I have used One Note since the day the app was released and trust me, it is not a Task application. I love the program and use it every day, but its task function is more like a checklist as a part of a larger project. I need; recurring tasks, priorities, sorting by due date, overdue task notification, categories and a Live Tile to remind me of all this cr#p, I mean important stuff. I have found sort of a solution with Remember the Milk, an online task app, along with WinMilk a WP7 app that syncs with RTM and can even sync with Outlook, Google, etc., but I would still like to see Microsoft address this as a part of the OS.

Picture Info – I think this one came right out of the iPhone playbook, but would it be asking too much to be able to see some of a photos properties, like; the file name, format, size and date it was taken. I know all that info, and a bunch more, is hiding somewhere in the background. Don’t have to clutter up the screen. Just add another option labeled info, assuming properties is too geek-like a word. Earlier this year, my brother passed away unexpectedly. I went through his iPhone and found a bunch of photos but they don’t have dates and I have had a hard time placing them. Copying them to a PC simply changes the date to current so that’s not a solution. At least the photos I synced with Zune maintain their original date.

ScreenShot – This may not have been an important capability for everyone in WinMo, but as someone who has a habit of writing app reviews, I am sorely missing the ability to create screenshots in WP. Don’t really understand why its not there and what’s involved in making it so, but a developer did confirm that the capability currently does not exist. And it had other uses as well, like when troubleshooting a problem. What do they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Please Microsoft, bring it back.

Got Help? – One of the most unappreciated features of WinMo IMHO was the Help utility. When I would hit a snag with a built-in or third party app I could go to help and get the info or hint I needed. Some apps did a better job than others, and some simply ignored it altogether, but it was nice having around. Of the 50 apps/games I have downloaded from the Marketplace and tried out so far I would estimate that about 7 have had some form of help/tutorial included within the app. And most of those 7 were games. I downloaded and read through my Surround manual cover to cover and was able to pick up a few hints about the built-in stuff, but for some of the third party apps it’s a mystery and I am still trying to figure out how they work. Keep finding hidden capabilities by tapping or moving something I didn’t think could be tapped or moved. Don’t know if this was Microsoft’s intention, this self-discovery thing, but in some cases I have deleted an app simply because I didn’t understand it. If they don’t want to bring the Help utility/hub back, at least require developers to provide some simple steps as to how an app works within the settings, especially those apps that don’t include free trials.

Need Some Good Vibration – Another thing I am missing that I really liked on my Tilt2 is “haptic feedback” on the keyboard. I originally had sound turned on for key presses, but I usually keep my volume up pretty high and typing sounded a bit too animated for me, and there is no way to control the sound independently. I even activated “easy of use, TTY/TDD” hoping I might find some joy, but no luck. Hope Microsoft gets around to adding this.

That’s about all for now. Not trying to change this simple and slick UI, and definitely not trying to slow it down at all. But I think it could use some tweaking. What about you? Anything bugging you about Windows Phone that you feel needs fixing.