What I would like to see in Windows Phone 8

Windows Phone 8 is soon to be unveiled and we will hopefully find out what features have been kept, what bugs have been fixed, what new features have been dreamt up and most importantly what happens to our older devices.

I have been using Windows Phone for a while now and I like to think I have a decent grasp of what the OS is about. I have also been using Android for a while as well. Using two different operating systems creates a little problem, I see areas within each OS where I wish things had been done more like the other. Take contact management for instance, Windows Phone absolutely trounces Android. But then look at the Android notification system compared to the barely existent system in Windows Phone and it is reversed. There will always be better ways of doing certain tasks and I don’t think either Windows Phone or Android will ever perfect it.


So I got thinking about the upcoming release of Windows Phone 8 and what I would like to see included. Hopefully some of these features will appear in some shape or form.

Customisation

Part of the Windows Phone ethos is that it is a brutally simplistic interface. I get that, but at times I feel it is a little too restricted. I would love it if Windows Phone 8 had slightly more options in the theme settings. A wider palette of tile colours, custom tile colours maybe, more choice of background colour, transparent tiles, allowing each tile to be different and wallpapers for the background.

This would give the user a much wider range of customisation. You could definitely feel that no one had the same homescreen as you. I would also like to see other elements such as the lockscreen and the status bar have options regarding the layout or colour as well.

Cloud Storage

Skydrive is great, but it could be so much better. Imagine if all of your pictures, music, documents, contacts etc all were synced to Skydrive. Yes it sounds a lot like what Apple and Google both do, but it would certainly make life a lot easier. Skydrive could become the new way to sync the device with the desktop. I really hope Microsoft have come up with a more rounded sync solution for Windows Phone 8.

Hardware

We have been told on several occasions that Windows Phone 8 is going to support dual core processors and higher resolution screens. I really hope this is true, for two reasons. Firstly that having a higher resolution screen will be great, having more detail for viewing pictures and websites will certainly be useful. The second reason I will be glad of the change, is so that reviewers who do not understand Windows Phone will stop marking new devices down because “it only has a wvga screen” for a while now many websites have been using the wvga screen as a bad thing about whichever device they are reviewing. The CPU attracts the same misunderstanding only being single core. The new higher resolution dual core devices will be very welcome.

Apps

I think somewhere there is a law that states every article about Windows Phone needs to mention the dire situation with apps. I will do this but with a slightly different slant.

The current situation with Windows Phone 7 is better than it was, it while back it was pretty bad. With not many big name developers behind the platform, finding the apps you wanted used to be a struggle. Nowadays you can pretty much get what you want or a decent alternative.

My problem with the current app provision is the quality of the apps. Take any big name service like the BBC or SKY and you will find no end of app developers offering an ad-supported version that really does more damage to the brand than good. They use official logos and marketing blurb, no end of times you actually think it is an official app, only to find out it is a poorly designed advertising vehicle.

The Windows Phone Marketplace also seems to have FAR TOO MANY sexy chick wallpaper apps.

I hope Microsoft impose stricter guidelines on developers regarding copying household brands like the BBC. I hope they clamp down on some of the pointless rubbish that is just out to harvest contact data and advertising revenue. I really hope they have a good tidy up.

Tablets

Tablets are everywhere and over the last week or two we have seen some of the designs of the upcoming Windows 8 tablets. I really hope that the tablet version of Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 neatly sync. I can see things getting a little complicated with duplicate app purchases to get certain functionality. With Android quite often you can use the same app purchase on your phones or tablets, with Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 it seems they are going to be separate entities.

It would be nice to see crossover devices that run Windows Phone 8 on a larger screen, something like the Samsung Galaxy Note, as the tablets so far seem to be high end ultrabook style devices. A company like Nokia could make a lovely 5-7″ device loaded with books, music, films, maps and no end of other things. I would certainly buy something like this.

Manufacturers

Over the last few year we have had Acer, HTC, LG, Nokia and Samsung making Windows Phones. Recently all of the apart from Nokia and possibly Samsung have been VERY quiet regarding their Windows Phone 8 plans. It would be great if all of them start to announce new devices. The one thing I would like to see more than any other software feature would be some different form factors. A HTC 7 Pro style device and a Blackberry style device would be great. Windows Phone 8 would appeal to a lot more people then.

Little things

The last few things I hope they fix don’t really warrant a whole paragraph each so I will just group them all in at the end.

Microsoft please sort out the sound profiles. We really need seperate media, alerts, ringtones and alarm volumes. Each controlled by one central core app which allows you to save various profiles.
We want memory card slots, please.
NFC would be nice.
Please please please can you fix it for me, so that my wifi stays awake when the screen is off. Streaming radio to a speaker over wifi is VERY annoying when you have to keep waking the device to reconnect to wifi. Especially as it uses your 3g connection instead.
We would love to have a Live Tile that showed the battery percentage.
We would love to have a Live Tile that was a folder for a selection of other apps, such as social or news.

And one last thing that if Microsoft could fix it would be great/amazing/epic, MICROSOFT PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE ALLOW THE PHONE TO BE MOUNTED AS REMOVABLE STORAGE.

I will certainly be waiting for the details of Windows Phone 8 to see what will be powering the next generation of devices. There are lots of things that Microsoft could do, but as to what they will actually do remains to be seen.

What one thing would you fix with Windows Phone if was up to you? Let us know in the comments below or in the forum. The thread is here.

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  • Customization
    I would definitely like to see more tile choices and a few more background options but anyone who has used any of the background hacks can tell you that more often than not it takes more away from WP7 than it adds. It is all too easy to choose a simple wall paper that makes the simple elegance of WP7 become busy and difficult to read.

    Cloud storage, I couldn’t agree more but I would also like to have access to services like drop box and box.

    Hardware, it’s clear that many have misunderstood the hardware requirements and have not objectively compared WP7’s performance to other platforms but this is a marketing and perception problem rather than a ”real” issue. I would however like to see a One X variant with WP7 and while the 7 Pro is a nice phone I would absolutely love to see a version of the Desire Z running WP7.

    Apps, this is a mixed area, they’ve made a lot of progress in a short amount of time. Some apps are absolutely beautiful while others have fallen into the same trap as other platforms with the hot babe wallpapers and fart apps. So I totally agree with needing better quality control and probably some better tools for letting trademark owners manage their respective brands.

    Tablets, some of the most powerful tablets available already run windows but they are also some of the most expensive. I’ll be interested in seeing if MS can give a WP7 level experience while living up to the Win 8 expectations with only an ARM processor to rely on. My ideal integration between phone, tablet and desktop would be similar to Canonical’s Ubuntu for Android. That concept impressed me. A 13 inch Asus transformer with a slot for me to slide my HTC One X style WP8 device in would be a spectacular combination of phone, tablet and laptop.

    Little things,
    Don’t touch the sound profile. The android model is a horrendous jumble and I’ve always hated having to open an app to change its respective volume. It caused me no end of frustration in my years using Android. A compromise would be to keep the single volume control but in settings be able to set the ratio between the different elements.

    Memory card slots yes, definatley and I believe this has been confirmed by MS.
    NFC, ah, who cares.
    Wifi on yes, without a doubt.
    Battery percentage, nice but not necessary.
    Folders implementation would certainly be welcome, so could having the option to sort your app list by group rather than alphabetically.
    Mountable storage is sorely missed, heck I’d really love to be able to boot a PC from it like I could on WinMo.

    • James Pearce

      Hi William thanks for taking the time to comment. The Asus Padfone with Windows Phone 8 and a desktop version would be great. Maybe one day!

  • Johnboyw

    A file explorer would be good!

    • James Pearce

      Oops missed that. :)