What I'm Looking Forward To In Windows Phone 8
We wouldn’t all be on this website if we weren’t fans of the Windows Phone philosophy. Having everything available and at your fingertips, right on your start screen, is a pretty special thing. Most of my friends will scoff at the idea of WP until I show them how it brings your information to you, instead of you going to your information. How I almost never actually look at Facebook itself, as it all comes to me on my start screen. It amazes me how much the ‘Pin-to-Start’ function available to almost everything in WP has become part of my work flow; I was genuinely shocked when I couldn’t pin a specific OneNote to the home screen of my tablet (it’s OK, Windows 8 will rid me of the ‘A’ word for good). The focus on a simple and beautiful user interface and seamless access to the information that matters to you is hard to beat.
But we all also know that this OS isn’t perfect. For all its plusses, WP is definitely still in its infancy. The comparatively small number of tiles that fit on the viewable start screen, lack of basic features like expandable memory and higher screen resolutions, and the perception of a lack of both quality and quantity of apps has held the otherwise fantastic OS from really joining the big leagues.
The smart phone beta test might be over, but now the Windows Phone beta test is over too.
As anyone that hasn’t been hiding under a rock will now know, WP8 is going to be a powerhouse of features. Below are the 4 features we know about so far, that I believe will really rock WP8.
This one really goes without saying. It really is frustrating that each tile takes up so much room, and has limited customisation options. I want to know how many emails, phone calls and texts I’ve received; but I don’t want that to take up half my Start Screen. Well now it doesn’t have to.
The added news with the leaking of the WP8 SDK that double-span tiles will update in a ‘scrolling’ fashion a-la the Pictures tile in WP7 adds further dynamics and personality to our Start Screens.
There are some downsides however; some people like the black bar down the left hand side (I’m not one of them) and the larger tile sizes mean the ‘medium’ size tiles will now only fit 3 high on the viewable Start Screen, rather than the 4 we currently enjoy.
‘Nuff said. Zune is great (even if they are changing the name to Xbox Music) but that doesn’t help if I can hardly fit any music on the device I carry everywhere with me. The cloud storage it looks like we’ll get in the form of ‘Xbox Music Cloud’ could also be great, but it remains to be seen how that will function.
This is really great stuff. Not only can developers open up lock screen notifications to their apps, they can change the background too. I love that my background changes when I’m playing music; my phone really does change behaviour when I’m using it as a music device, and now that will be open to all developers. The extra notification options really add to the ‘glance and go’ functionality, and the background changes will alter the feel of the phone depending on what I’m doing (think: ‘upload in progress’ background that disappears once the upload is finished).
Better apps, and more of them
What else is dropping at the same time as WP8? It’s PC/tablet counterpart. Windows 8 will introduce Metro to millions of consumers, and you can bet there’ll be a tonne of developers jumping on the band wagon. This will result in two things: first, more consumers will choose WP because they will be familiar with the UI and it will work in synergy with their computer; and second, it will be easy for developers to port their Windows 8 apps to WP, and use those apps to enhance engagement with their Windows 8 apps.
Bigger target market + lower barrier to entry + synergy of apps = more and better apps
So they’re the main features that I’m looking forward to in WP8. Other features I think will really round out the OS include higher screen resolution, the ‘Lenses’ feature and NFC (I’m really hoping and waiting for NFC to become huge). Have I missed your favourite? What are you most looking forward to in WP8?