Try again, Twitter: Updated app takes Windows Phone to new levels of frustration

twitter

Hey, that looks like an interesting story in that random tweet on my Windows Phone lock screen. I’d like to read that.

WindowsPhone8X_Front_BackLet’s see, I’ll swipe at it. Nope, that opens up Kid’s Corner. OK let’s go back. A quick tap on the link, maybe? Hmm, that doesn’t work, either.

Wait, this new feature is just for show? I have to unlock the phone, launch the app and search for the tweet manually? Really?

Yes, it’s me, the accidental Windows Phone crank. I eagerly downloaded the updated Twitter app for Windows Phone this morning, ready to experience its new features in all their glory. Ten months into my Windows Phone experience, I take pride in keeping an open mind, at least.

OK, you caught me, I admit it, I’ve been switching the SIM card back to my old iPhone 4S for several days at a time. It all started when the HTC 8X stopped connecting reliably to the Bluetooth in my car. But anyway …

After about 30 seconds of poking at the tweet on the lock screen, I got over my frustration and decided to try another of the new features of the Twitter app, the ability to receive notifications when selected Twitter accounts publish new tweets. So into the app’s settings I went.

pushnotifications“We’re sorry, you have too many apps using push notifications,” read the message. “Please disable notifications in other apps and try again.”

Deep breath. OK, no problem so I’ll just find the central notifications pane in Windows Phone, and quickly disable notifications for a few of my apps.

Oh, wait, IT DOESN’T EXIST!! I have to open apps individually, see if they have push notifications enabled, and turn them off one-by-one?

Seriously, there’s a lot to like in Windows Phone, and I really do want to make it work for me. But holy crap, stuff like this makes it tough.

For the record, I was able to enable one feature of the Twitter app, the ability to turn on a dark theme. I’m calling that a victory and moving on.

  • SilverSee

    Wow.

    Todd, you can disable background activities for apps globally from the Settings->Applications->Background Tasks pivot.

    Windows Phone 8 lets you customize what is displayed on your lock screen, which can include information from a particular apps. Of course no interaction is possible from the lock screen–that’s why it’s a “lock screen”.

    Whether or not it’s a good idea to enable the Twitter app put random tweets on your lock screen is for you to decide.

    Perhaps you should just switch back to the iPhone permanently, as apparently Windows Phone it isn’t for you.

    • http://geekwire.com Todd Bishop

      Yep, I’m aware of that setting, but I want to turn off push notifications for specific apps, without preventing them from running in the background. A music app, for example, is a case where you’d still want the ability to run in the background. And I should be able to do that from a central pane, not go hunting app-to-app to see if notifications are enabled.

      Why would any app maker think it’s a good idea to display random tweets on the lock screen without the ability to click on them? I realize this may be a limitation of Windows Phone, but if so, Twitter just shouldn’t have enabled the feature.

      Bottom line, it shouldn’t be this hard. If your best advice is for me to switch back to iPhone, I guess that speaks for itself.

      • Guest

        That a pretty uncharitable take on his feedback, Todd. He addressed some of the reasoning and pointed out how you could control the specific behavior that was the subject of your criticism. I don’t see his advice regarding switching back to iOS as being a statement about WP’s shortcomings as much as it is about iOS perhaps being a better fit for you and your stated preferences. Maybe it is. Why wouldn’t he point that out? He’s not MS marketing. Convincing you not to is their job, not his.

        • Chris

          Fine, but I would not be shocked if “SilverSee” works somewhere at MS and simply does not realize that the reason Todd (aka the customer) has this expectation of lock screen behavior is because other operating systems in the competitive set allow customers to directly access notification after swiping on the lock screen.

        • http://geekwire.com Todd Bishop

          OK. Just to clarify, his suggestion actually doesn’t control the specific behavior that was the subject of my criticism. It turns off all background functionality, not just push notifications. To turn off just push notifications, Windows Phone users have to go from app to app.

          Combine that with Windows Phone’s limit on push notifications and it’s a pretty bad situation.

          • Guest

            Actually it does. It just effects other things as well. But point taken. I still think your take on his feedback was over the top.

          • http://geekwire.com Todd Bishop

            We have different definitions of “specific” and “over the top.” :)

    • pirate78

      LOL, great response, I love poignant sarcasm.

      Some research should have been done prior to posting a review with negative title like that as it only displays your own ignorance.

  • http://www.mainstreetchatham.com/ JimmyFal

    The headline is overkill, so how is the new Twitter app for Windows phone? I mean the app as an app, not as a screensaver. Notification center coming, I get it. Early 2014.
    Now what does drive me nuts is that when a notification comes up at the top of the screen, you COULD click on THAT, but not if the screen is locked.

  • http://www.christopherbudd.com Christopher Budd

    Interesting. I find myself wondering why there seems to be an arbitrary limit on the number apps that can do push notifications.

    From looking around it looks like something that’s been known and is around 30 apps, though according to posts on this forum WP8 was supposed to remove it: http://forums.wpcentral.com/nokia-lumia-920/219378-push-notifications-limit-how-check-apps-use-push-notifications.html.

    That forum has some posts expressing similar frustrations about not being able to centrally disable push notifications without also killing running in the background.

    It looks like something only affecting Windows Phone: I can’t find any similar limit on push notifications on Android or iOS.

    • http://www.christopherbudd.com Christopher Budd

      BTW, FWIW, it appears things are better than they used to be. It looks like WP7 had a limit of 15 apps: http://www.engadget.com/2010/12/07/windows-phone-7-limits-push-notifications-to-15-apps-16th-app-i/.

      • SilverSee

        It may seem like an arbitrary limit, but the goal (as I interpret it, and no I don’t work for Microsoft) is to safeguard the overall user experience by preventing too many potentially battery-draining apps from running in the background, a rather common issue on some other platforms.

        One can criticize the platform’s limitations, but it’s only fair to recognize the tradeoffs involved. Sadly, Microsoft has done a poor job of explaining or justifying its design decisions with hard evidence. The best we can point to is customer satisfaction surveys, which Windows Phone devices frequently win or tie with iPhone.

        I think Microsoft’s Windows Phone design goals (for better or worse) have so far placed the experience for the “mainstream smartphone user” ahead of that of technology enthusiasts. Limiting the number of concurrent apps that can surface toast notifications is an example. This is an odd role for Microsoft, which built its empire by winning mindshare among PC enthusiasts and IT professionals.

        The biggest irony in mobile right now is that the very people that Windows Phone would most delight–people like my mom, my wife and dozens others I know like them–are steered away from it by the tech gurus in their family who just “know” it’s not good enough.

        • http://www.christopherbudd.com Christopher Budd

          So let me clarify, I mean arbitrary limit in the programming sense not the judgement sense. In other words I was asking why they put a limit in place. And the specific limit of 15 or 30 appears to be chosen by the developer arbitrarily rather than as the result of some technological limitation (e.g. a limit of 256 would indicate that limit was likely the result of a buffer size or the like).

  • http://www.windowsobserver.com/ Richard Hay

    Easy does it folks – Todd has never even come close to being a WP basher of any sort. He is not a try it for one day and bail kind of guy nor did he just spend a day with the hardware and give a review. He has put some serious time in on using WP (and Surface RT for that matter) so he has earned the ability to criticize when things fall short.

    • http://www.christopherbudd.com Christopher Budd

      I’ll go one further and say that I’ve been impressed with Todd’s commitment to both WP and Sufrace. He’s stuck with WP longer than some people I know (who in some cases worked at MS at the time).

      He’s made the most positive, compelling arguments to me about where things have been done well (like multiple user logons on the Surface, something iOS and Android lack).

      And so the criticisms he has are equally balanced and valid to my ears. I just wish there was more gracious acceptance of the criticism and a commitment to try and address those things. But “religious wars” are a problem in the industry (Windows XP versus desktop LINUX anyone?).

  • Wael

    Does any one succeed setting up push notifications?
    I m not receiving at all

  • abgenx

    When Apple explains the technology tradeoffs it makes, people listen. When Microsoft does, people should listen too, and sometimes they don’t. That’s just the tax Microsoft has to pay for being behind and catching up. Customers will measure you against the highest bar. Another thing, Nokia does their best work for Windows Phone, HTC does not. HTC does their best work for Android.

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