Posts Tagged ‘Windows Phone’
The Windows Phone team have requested that customers submit ideas for the next version of Windows Phone in their blog post Have a new Windows Phone feature idea? Try Suggestion Box. I’ve taken them at their word and submitted the following suggestions, I’d appreciate you clicking through and voting them up if you think they are worthy:
The calendar application needs to be opened up as a hub so that other applications can publish their wares into it.
For instance”. I use an app called “My Trips” which shows me my itineraries from TripIt.com. Giving “My Trips” the ability to publish into my calendar would be much more useful because I can see those itineraries alongside everything else that I have in my calendar.
The map app should have the ability to display content from other apps.
There are many services today that provide location specific data (Foursquare & Flickr are two such examples). On Windows Phone 7 right now there is no way to present location-centric information from multiple data sources (i.e. apps) in a single place.
Apps would be able to publish information that is relevant to the user’s current location into this Location hub in much the same way that (e.g.) the SmugMug app currently publishes photos into the pictures hub. I can think of many apps, or types of apps, that could take advantage of this:
* Foursquare could publish check-ins
* Twitter could publish geo-tagged tweets
* Retailers could publish special offers (“Come to our store on Oxford Street in the next 10 minutes with your Windows Phone and receive a discount”)
* London Underground could publish an overlay of the tube network, including real-time train information
* Event sites like Eventful, Elmcity and Upcoming could publish local events
* OpenTable (who already have an app in the Windows Phone marketplace) could publish information about nearby restaurants
* Weather apps could overlay current or future weather conditions
* Transport for London could publish up-to-the-minute information about their “boris bikes” such as which stations currently have bikes available
* Your friends could share their location which could get published into the hub
* Apps that provide data about public amenities (letter boxes, public toilets, post offices etc…) could overlay that information on the Location hub
Bring Windows 8 Contracts to Windows Phone
Windows 8 is introducing Share and Search contracts. Please bring these to the phone as well (especially Share).
At the very least this would be a way to provide screenshots. Better than that though would be the ability to move data fro app to app. Here’s some random ideas I’ve just thought of:
*Foursquare could share a collection of checkins to the Map app which would then display them
*British Airways app could share flight details to the Calendar app
*SkyDrive browser in office hub could share a photo with the Flickr app
*A news site could share an article with OneNote so that we can store a copy of it
*if I see a cool video on a Video browsing app i could share a link to it to a Twitter app
Loads of possibilities I’m sure
Allow us to search the contents of office docs on the phone, not just filenames
The right-hand side of the Start Screen is currently bare. Why not put the link to “Settings” in there?
Perhaps you could even put the same notifications about unread emails/messages that appear on the lock screen into that empty space too. That would save having to have those tiles pinned to the Start Screen.
Yesterday I had a phone contract with T-Mobile in which I was paying £35 a month and I was using an HTC HD7 Windows Phone. All in all I had no real complaints with this although I was jealous whenever I met an owner of the Samsung Omnia 7 because, to my mind, that is a far superior handset.
This morning then I woke up and read an article on http://wmpoweruser.com, Samsung Omnia 7 on T-Mobile UK for only $15 per month! (the article author clearly doesn’t know the difference between USD & GBP but on this occasion I’ll let him/her off) Clicking through to the T-Mobile site I saw this:
That’s a *free* Omnia 7 on a £15-a-month contract with
500MB of unlimited data allowance.
As luck would have it my T-mobile contract comes to an end in less than a month so I I phoned up Customer Services and asked them if I could upgrade to this new deal. They said I could, they phoned my local store to reserve one and an hour later I had my Omnia 7. Not only that but I flogged my HD7 back to O2 for £100 on their “recycling” scheme. Just to emphasize the deal here:
- I now have a better, newer, handset. The one I wanted all along.
- I am paying £15 a month instead of £35 (and I get to pay it for 2 years – long contracts on cheap monthly rates are a win in my book)
- I’m £100 better off
I don’t want to gloat too much but…well actually….I really do!!!
Anyway, I’m writing this blog post so that anyone in the UK that happens upon it can get in on the deal too if they want to. Don’t hang about too long though because I spoke to the sales assistant in the T-mobile store who said:
“We’ve had these Omnia 7’s sitting around untouched for months but since we introduced this deal yesterday they’ve been flying off the shelves”
On 26th October 2010 I published a blog post entitled Windows Phone 7 needs a location hub where I opined that the current Bing Maps application on Windows Phone 7 is rather limited because apps cannot publish their own data into it. I said then:
In this scenario apps would be able to publish information that is relevant to the user’s current location into this Location hub in much the same way that (e.g.) the SmugMug app currently publishes photos into the pictures hub.
Today I’m making a similar assertion – the calendar application also needs to be opened up as a hub so that other applications can publish their wares into it.
To illustrate how useful this would be imagine if the Facebook app could publish the events that you have agreed to attend into the calendar – your friends’ birthday events from Facebook could appear in the calendar app alongside your own personal appointments. Moreover, the Facebook app could show you the events that you are invited to and check your personal calendar to see whether you’re free to attend them or not.
Here’s another “for instance”. I use an app called “My Trips” which shows me my itineraries from TripIt.com. Giving “My Trips” the ability to publish into my calendar would be much more useful because I can see those itineraries alongside everything else that I have in my calendar.
Its a simple idea but one which I really hope comes to fruition because it would make the phone a lot more useful. Locking data inside apps a la the iPhone is something that Microsoft have stated they want to get away from by providing hubs – why should our calendars not receive a similar leg up?
P.S. This idea would also jive rather sweetly with my belief that apps would be a great way of bringing iCalendar to the masses. Read more at More thoughts on iCalendar – how apps may help increase adoption
- I wrote above about how I love being able to sync my OneNote notebooks from http://office.live.com to my phone but I can’t ignore that setting up syncing of a notebook up in the first place is a very difficult thing to do. I managed to get myself into such a pickle first time around that I believed my OneNote notebooks on the phone were in unrecoverable state (for more details go read my thread on WinPhoneJunkies) and had no option but to do a hard reset of the phone. As it transpired the proper remedial action was not quite so drastic but I wouldn’t have known that had it not been for Jon Noble’s blog post How to open your existing OneNote notebooks on Windows Phone 7 that explains the decidedly intricate process required to do this. This whole process is not in keeping with the positive first impressions that I spoke of earlier. and nowhere do Microsoft try and explain it to you
Other issues with OneNote:
- if you have any section groups in your Notebooks they and the sections/pages within them are completely ignored
- there is no search function which is a fundamental need in a note taking app.
All of these OneNote foibles are indicative of the “unfinished” nature that is prevalent throughout the phone.
- The Music and Video hub is indeed a delightful experience as I emphasized earlier but still its missing things and, quite frankly, some of the foibles I find downright bizarre. For example, I can shuffle all of the songs on the phone but I can’t shuffle a playlist. Huh? That seems like a glaring omission to me and is one that I miss a great deal because in general I make great use of my playlists but listening to them in the same order each time is not really what they were designed for. (UPDATE: Thanks to Chris in the comments who pointed out that you can shuffle a playlist although given the obscurity of it I don’t feel bad for not finding it. Read Chris’s comment here.)
I had already purchased a Zunepass (to enable streaming of music) prior to purchasing the phone but streaming wasn’t immediately available when I first took delivery of the phone and plugged in my Windows Live ID. I can happily report that it is working now but I have no idea what caused it to be “triggered” and I don’t understand why streaming wasn’t working from the get-go.Speaking of streaming – here’s another issue. One would assume (I did anyway) that having opted to stream (say) an album that the whole album would be getting downloaded as the first track was being played. Not so, it only downloads a track when it reaches it in the playlist and hence we get a 10-20 second pause in-between each song – not an ideal way to listen to music I’m sure you’ll agree!SmartDJ. Where is SmartDJ? Its a great feature in both Zune on Windows and on Zune devices but its not here on the phone – a glaring omission.Zune Social. Again, where is it? It simply aint here! One of the reasons I got on board with Zune a long time ago is because I liked the notion of building social into it so I find it strange that they haven’t built it into the phone.Again, the word that springs to mind when using the Music and Video hub is “unfinished” and to be honest that is a common theme across the phone.
- The Home screen is in keeping with the pleasing aesthetic of the phone but, as Charles Arthur was quick to point out in his Guardian article Windows Phone 7 review: you sure Microsoft wrote this software?, quickly becomes unwieldy as you add more and more apps to it. Granted it is possible to launch an app using your voice but in my limited testing thus far it doesn’t easily my recognise my gruff northern England twang. Admirable though the home screen is Microsoft need to fix this.
- Copy and paste. Ah, copy and paste. its well known that this feature is currently missing from the phone and some observers have commented that you don’t really miss it. They’re wrong – copy and paste is a fundamental need on a smartphone and I find it bizarre that Microsoft thought they could leave this out in version one. The expected update in early 2011 that is going to bring copy and paste can’t come soon enough.
- I spoke about the Calendar being beautiful, and it is, but its sadly lacking in functionality. I am subscribed to many many calendars at http://calendar.live.com but only one of them, the primary one, shows up on the phone.
My biggest complaint is reserved for apps written by Microsoft or, more accurately, the lack of them. I have just searched in the Windows Phone marketplace for apps created by Microsoft and have found ten (they are YouTube, Facebook, Unite, Last.FM, Level, Weather, Translator, Unit Converter, Shopping List). I think that’s a pathetically paltry number for a company that sells software by the bucketload and whose target market for these phones should be the existing customers that already know and trust them.If Microsoft truly are serious about this phone then their product teams should be churning out apps for this thing by the boatload; where’s my mobile MSN viewer (the MSN Celebrity app doesn’t interest me), my Remote Desktop client, my mobile SQL Server admin tool, my Microsoft Dynamics client, my Live Meeting client, my Windows Live Writer Mobile program (yes, I believe there is a need for such a thing), my Microsoft Connect client, my OData viewer, my Codeplex client and (most of all) my Windows Azure admin client? These apps and many many more are conspicuous by their absence and it highlights the inherent problem Microsoft have in effectively being many many different companies under a single brand. Somebody should be banging down the doors of product teams throughout the company and getting them to build apps for this thing but clearly that is not happening.
- When typing a URL into the address bar in Internet Explorer there’s no “/” on the facing keyboard. What the….? [OK, its there if I long-hold on the period but still – you’d think this would be front and centre when typing a URL]
- After installing an app from the marketplace you have to come out of the marketplace to actually launch it. Why can’t I simply launch it from the marketplace when it tells me that its finished installing it?
- Maps app doesn’t work in landscape
- Searching in marketplace will return playlists that people have shared on Zune Social. All I can do though is view the playlist or play individual songs from it via my Zunepass, I can’t play/download the whole playlist.
- I can upload photos from my phone to SkyDrive or choose to have them sync up there automatically. Strangely these two functions put the photos in two completely different places; one sends them to https://photos.live.com/browse.aspx/.MobilePhotos and the other sends them to https://photos.live.com/browse.aspx/.WMPhotos. WHY????
- When I logged onto the Music marketplace recently the main promoted release was Cheryl Cole’s recent single release. Anyone that knows me tell you that Cheryl Cole isn’t exactly my cup of tea and Zune knows this too given I share all my music plays with them so why are they trying to flog me Cheryl Cole trash? Surely they should try and sell me something they have an inkling I might like!
- Long-holding the period on the keyboard will present a submenu of different punctuation marks that I can add to wherever I’m typing. This submenu includes a dash, an exclamation mark, a colon and a question mark but unbelievably no apostrophe. It seems like a small thing but I’m left incredulous at this omission.
- I can pin a person to the home screen which is kinda cute n’all but its not what I want; I want to pin a person’s phone number up there. That would be useful.
- In my use of apps so far I haven’t found the Live Tiles on the home screen to be particularly, well, live. A very small percentage of all the apps I have installed so far actually make use of Live Tiles which is disappointing given that Microsoft’s whole sell about the phone is “glance-and-go”.
- I find the functionality of the Bing search app to be distinctly underwhelming. One of the features I like about the main Bing site is Instant Answers but they don’t turn up on the phone unfortunately.
- I have lots of content on the phone (email, text messages, OneNote notebooks, Excel spreadsheets, Word docs) but the phone doesn’t allow me to search through all of that content. It needs a universal search function.
- The Marketplace Search is annoying because it presents all content types in a single list. I don’t understand why they don’t use the now-familiar pivot interface and produce a page for apps, albums, playlists etc… Presenting all of this stuff in a single list is not helpful.
Windows Phone 7 has introduced the notion of hubs. Hubs are essentially parts of the phone OS that aggregate information pertaining to a particular “thing”; right now those six “things” are:
- Music & Video
I’m of the opinion that there should be a seventh hub – Location. There are many services today that provide location specific data (Foursquare & Flickr are two such examples)although I can safely predict that the number of these will grow exponentially over the coming years. On Windows Phone 7 right now there is no way to present location-centric information in a single place – hence why I believe there is a need for a Location hub.
In this (currently mythical) scenario apps would be able to publish information that is relevant to the user’s current location into this Location hub in much the same way that (e.g.) the SmugMug app currently publishes photos into the pictures hub. The Location hub would display all of that information on a map and the user could zoom in/out to see more or less information as they please. I can think of many apps, or types of apps, that could take advantage of this:
- Foursquare could publish check-ins
- Twitter could publish geo-tagged tweets
- Retailers could publish special offers (“Come to our store on Oxford Street in the next 10 minutes with your Windows Phone and receive a discount”)
- London Underground could publish an overlay of the tube network, including real-time train information
- Event sites like Eventful, Elmcity and Upcoming could publish local events
- OpenTable (who already have an app in the Windows Phone marketplace) could publish information about nearby restaurants
- Weather apps could overlay current or future weather conditions
- Transport for London could publish up-to-the-minute information about their “boris bikes” such as which stations currently have bikes available
- Your friends could share their location which could get published into the hub (this suggestion came from Todd Mcdermid)
- Apps that provide data about public amenities (letter boxes, public toilets, post offices etc…) could overlay that information on the Location hub
The more I consider this the more I think its a fantastic idea (well, I would, wouldn’t I) and the more I become amazed that Microsoft didn’t provide it straight off the bat. I realise there’s little chance that this little blog post will reach the powers that be and make a difference but still, I can live in hope!
Let me know that you think. What other information could end up in a Location hub?
UPDATE: Vote for this idea on the Windows Phone 7 Community Wishlist at : New
hub for “Location” data
In March 2008, soon after Internet Explorer 8 was unveiled to the world, I wrote a blog post entitled Web Slice Gadgets in which I opined that a nice feature for web slices would be enabling us to install them as desktop gadgets within Windows. I said then:
Web Slices are a method for packaging up small portions of data from the internet and making them easily available. Well to me, that sounds a lot like what gadgets are for. Doesn’t it to you?
The advantage of gadgets is that you don’t have to open a web browser in order to view them like you do with Web Slices. On the other hand the advantage of Web Slices is that you don’t need to be a software developer in order to build one. Hence, wouldn’t it make sense to combine the two? Let me store Web Slices on my Windows Vista Sidebar
It is not possible to do this today, not even in Windows 7. However, I was browsing through the Windows Phone 7 marketplace earlier today when I happened upon an app built by Lorenzo Barbieri of GenioDelMale called webslicer that brings the power of webslices to Windows Phone 7. The description goes:
With this app you can use the most of the web slices from IE8 and IE9 directly from the Phone. You need the URL of the slice, and you can add it to the favorites for later use.
Cool stuff Lorenzo. I’ll definitely be getting a hold of this app when I get a Windows Phone 7 (which I can’t right now – rant coming about that later).
Unfortunately there is no way to link directly to the app within the marketplace (not one that I know of anyway) but if you search in the app marketplace within Zune it shouldn’t be too hard to find.
Earlier this week Microsoft announced their new mobile operating system, Windows Phone 7, along with a host of new phone devices on which it will run. They become available in the UK in 7 days time and I shall be getting one, in this blog post I am going to explain why.
Almost five years ago (on 1st November 2005 to be precise) Microsoft released Windows Live; a set of online services -some of which were re-branded from MSN- that were intended to…well…no-one was really sure what they were intended for. The progress of Windows Live since then has been rocky to say the least (including some high-profile departures) although I do believe that the brand now represents a concrete set of products and services that bring value and have a strong future. The change in strategy from trying to be all things to all comers to partnering with best-of-breed services (e.g. Facebook, WordPress, LinkedIn, TripIt, Last.FM) whilst doubling-down on their own popular brands (Office, Messenger, Hotmail) and then building desktop tools to support all those services is both palpable and to Microsoft’s credit in my opinion.
I have been, and still am, a keen follower of Windows Live since those early days (my first Windows Live related blog post was in September 2006) and since then I have endured much ridicule from friends and colleagues who wondered why I bothered maintaining an interest in it when everyone else was jumping onto the MySpace, Facebook and Twitter bandwagons. You can imagine that the phrase “Microsoft fanboy” has been uttered in my direction many times and frankly, given the evidence , its not something I can legitimately deny. They questioned why I bothered with Windows Live and the answer back then was essentially this:
Microsoft’s breadth of products and services that can get unlocked by a single Windows Live ID is greater than anyone else
Four years ago there was no other single organisation that offered (or were going to offer): music and video, gaming, email, instant messenging, online storage, social network aggregation, desktop computing, search, synchronisation & mobile computing (and not forgetting a software platform that I make my living off of) all tied to the same login and it is that simple fact that I always found so compelling. Moreover, even in the face of competition from heavyweights like Apple, Google and Facebook I still find it to be overwhelmingly compelling today. The potential for a fantastic integrated experience incorporating all of the above was always, in my opinion, greater than anyone else could provide but for the last five years that all it has been – potential.
So what has all that got to do with Windows Phone 7? For me, Windows Phone 7 is the first embodiment of that latent potential. I didn’t think it would take five years to arrive at this point but arrive we have. And how. The reviews have generally been very positive (anything from Microsoft that gets Stephen Fry and Jemima Kiss singing its praises must be worthy of a second glance at least) and at the centre of it is Windows Live; not plastered over the top as it was in previous incarnations of Windows Mobile but actually woven into the core of every Windows Phone 7 to the extent that it powers everything from the Facebook-heavy people hub to the online accompanying service at http://windowsphone.live.com.
So to sum up, why am I getting a Windows Phone? In a nutshell its not because I’ve been waiting a few months for this thing, its because I’ve been waiting for four years and I’m not going to turn my back just as we enter the finishing straight. I will be getting a Windows Phone in 7 days (I am as yet undecided about which one though it will probably be the HTC HD7) and I’ll tell you all about it right here.