First things first: Yes, I’m still using my Windows Phone.
Regular readers may remember that I gave up my iPhone and switched to Windows Phone 8 at the beginning of the year — first a Lumia 920 and then an HTC 8X — as a challenge to myself and an experiment to understand Microsoft’s mobile platform by truly living it day-to-day.
Overall, after five months, I have a love-hate relationship with Windows Phone. There are many features that I love, including the ability to pin specific contacts to the Start screen to quickly see who has sent you a message.
One of the things that has made me stick with Windows Phone is the text suggestion feature — making a row of alternative words available above the keyboard as you type. Who knows what iOS 7 will bring, but Apple definitely needs to adopt this feature from Windows Phone and Android keyboard apps. I still use my SIM-less iPhone occasionally, and I miss this feature when I do.
But lately the minor annoyances have been piling up with Windows Phone, as I’ve encountered situations that prevent me from doing things that I expect to do. So here are my top five “feature requests” for the next version of Windows Phone …
Video trimming: You take a perfect 30-second video clip of your kid on your phone, except for the last few seconds where she picks her nose or says the wrong grandparent’s name.
So you just edit out that last part, save the new version and send it off via email or text, right? Nope, not on Windows Phone. Not only is this feature not available in Windows Phone, but there’s no third party Windows Phone app that does it, either. Um, what? (Windows Phone power users, correct me if I’m overlooking something, but I’ve asked a bunch of people, and searched and searched with no luck.)
So the process instead involves saving the clip to SkyDrive, editing it on a computer and sending it off that way. Yes, this falls in the realm of first-world problems, but really, is it too much to ask for a simple video trimming feature? No.
Facebook messaging: One of the coolest things about Windows Phone, in theory, is the integrated Facebook messaging. In practice, this is one of the worst things about Windows Phone.
Here’s what happens in my experience: I’m having a fun messaging session with a friend in the web interface on Facebook, chatting back and forth, and suddenly the other person stops writing back, even though they’re still online. Jeez, was it something I said? No, the messages are randomly being diverted to my Windows Phone, and not showing up in the web interface. Sometimes it’s the opposite, where messages show up in the web interface and not on the phone.
I’ve tried changing settings, disconnecting and reconnecting my Facebook account. No luck. The web is littered with unresolved forum complaints about these problems. Microsoft needs to get together with Facebook on this one and figure it out.
Information Density: This is a matter of personal preference, but I far prefer the snug default design of the iPhone’s text and fonts to the Windows Phone airy “Modern UI” interface. See this picture for a comparison of the same inbox on the 8X and the iPhone 4S.
Apple has shown that it is possible to deliver information with a tight design while still having a clean and readable experience. Isn’t this why we have high-resolution screens on our phones?
Cut and Paste: You might be under the impression that Microsoft has enabled cut and paste when writing emails, etc., in Windows Phone. That’s technically incorrect. The company has enabled copy and paste. To actually cut and paste, you have to remember to hit delete after you copy the text.
Yes, this is a very minor complaint, compared to some of the others, but it’s one more thing that has made adjusting to Windows Phone more challenging than it should be, at least for me. (Admittedly, I spend more time editing emails on my phone than I should.)
People Tile: It’s fun to see random profile pictures of your friends flipping around in the People tile on the Windows Phone home screen, but the problem is that they are truly random — with no apparent relation to recent status updates or anything that you’ll actually see when you press the tile to go the People hub.
Hey, cool, who is that friend there in the tile with the mysterious new profile pic? Um, no idea.
I’ve played with settings extensively with no luck. (Again, Windows Phone fans, help me out here if I’m missing something.) Making the People Tile relate to actual activity seems like an easy fix and a simple way for Microsoft to upgrade the experience.
So that’s where I am. No show-stoppers, but enough to leave me with mixed feelings as I continue to adjust to Microsoft’s mobile platform. Here’s hoping Microsoft can address at least some of these things in future Windows Phone updates.