Windows Phone Thoughts: Give up! We have you (HTC) Surrounded!

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Give up! We have you (HTC) Surrounded!

Posted by Don Tolson in "HTC Windows Phones" @ 08:00 AM

Windows Phone 7

As far as the new O/S is concerned, what can I say? Jason has done a stream of articles on the look-and-feel as they became available, and Doug did a pretty good job in his review of the HTC HD7 of the essential elements of the new Windows Phone 7 operating system. I thought though, that I would show you some more screen shots of the actual O/S as it was delivered.

Unfortunately, there is no screen capture utility available (yet), so these are actual 'pictures' of the screen, taken with my Nikon D70, so I apologise in advance for any imperfections.

The Goods

Figure 14: The lockscreen provided by WP7. The wallpaper is a picture of a rainbow which occurred just before dusk outside my home. The information display is a good snapshot of what you want to see at a glance, with the phone network connectivity in the top left, the WiFi connection in the top centre and the battery level in the top right. The main part of the screen shows the time, date, and the next (or current) appointment. The icon at the bottom centre shows that I have 4 unread messages in my Outlook email account.

While the lockscreen does a good job of being informative, none of the icons are active. You can't press on the icons at the top to get more information or to turn things off (like the WiFi), and pressing on the unread messages doesn't take you to the Inbox (like I would expect). Instead, you have to slide this whole screen (upwards) out of the way to get to the Start screen, before you can do anything. Also, there doesn't seem to be any way to get rid of the lock screen and have the phone power/wake up directly at the Start screen instead.

Figure 15: By now, this WP7 Start Screen with its active tiles is becoming pretty familiar. It's pretty neat to see at a glance what's going on in various parts of my world, but I seem to remember that HTC's Sense interface presented some of this as well on the start screen. Just not in the same way.

Figure 16: This is the new version of the Agenda screen, which provides a rolling display of all of your upcoming (and preceeding, if you go backwards) appointments. The colour bars on the right indicate which one of your 'calendar accounts' (Outlook vs Windows Live vs Google) the item is found on. The intensity (solid vs. greyed vs transparent) shows whether the item is Busy, Tentative or Free time. The + icon at the bottom adds a new appointment, while the calendar icon on the right goes to the month view.

Figure 17: Here's the same display in Day calendar view. The elipsys (three dots) at the bottom right prompts that there are additional 'menu' options available. On this display, it provides text description of each of the icons, plus a Calendars option to set colours and update for each of the calendar sources.

Figure 18: WP7's Monthly Calendar. I thought I'd include a shot of this to show that now, WP7 provides a pixelated (greeked?) version of what's going on in each day. The entries are not actually readable, but they do give you, at a glance, an indication of how busy your day is going to be.

The Uglies

Having worked with Windows Phone 7 for a couple of weeks now, there are definitely some 'oddities' in terms of things that just don't seem quite right or that seem to be missing. Apart from the ones that we already know about (and that Microsoft is hinting they will address in the next release), here are some things that I think need to be addressed in WP7:

  • Caller-ID not integrated with Contacts -- On this O/S, if I get a call from the mobile phone of one of my contacts, it shows up as 'Unknown'. Yes, I know Caller-ID is a supplier-specific feature, but if I put the same SIM card into a WM6.5 phone and the same person calls on their cell phone, I get their picture displayed to me. Similarly the same SIM card in an Android 2.1 phone shows me their picture, taken from the Contacts file. On the plus side though, Caller-ID for other phones (not in my Contacts) is working much better -- showing the name of the person calling plus their number. On WM6.5 and Android, I was just getting the phone number.
  • When I receive a meeting cancellation notice in Outlook, there's no option to Remove the entry from my calendar. (I guess I have to do it manually)
  • Outlook categories and colours are not reflected in the WP7 calendars.
  • There's no way to create 'folders' of applications, so the list of installed apps can get very long. (Good thing the scrolling works quickly, and there's always the Search function...)
  • No support of Outlook Tasks! (I really can't live without these, and I know there are many others on the WP7 forums complaining about this)
  • Currently, there are no applications which show the status of the GPS satellite capture/lock. (I hope Chartcross is working on a WP7 version of their GPSTest application)
  • WP7 needs more options for power management e.g. leave the screen on while attached to external power.
  • You can't sync 'regular' (non-audio/video) files with the phone. To get them onto the phone, you need to email them to an account managed by the phone, then de-attach.
  • When you hook the phone up to a laptop via Zune Sync, you can no longer listen to music or watch videos on the phone.
  • The only way to use the phone is to press the Power/Sleep button on the top, and then you have to slide the lock screen away. I would rather have the Lock screen automatically show up when I bring the phone out, and have it go directly to the Start screen if I press ANY of the buttons. (after all, it IS only in 'sleep' mode)
  • The notification bar should be 'active'. Pressing (funny how 'tapping' just doesn't work anymore...) on the i network icons should go to a screen where I can turn on/off network options (flight mode, etc.) Pressing the battery icon should provide more detail on battery use, remaining life, etc. or power off options.
  • Icons on the lock screen (e.g. # of unread emails) should be active, and take you to the appropriate Inbox.
  • Configuring an Outlook Exchange email account is not straightforward as it used to be in WM6 or WM6.5. For some reason WP7 just asks you for your email address and then tries to figure out the enterprise server name from that. Most times, it doesn't get it right, and then it simply (unhelpfully) says 'Sorry, can't help you.' What you need to do is go to the Advanced Settings so you can input the name of the server and your domain name directly. In WM6.5 this was much more visible and direct.


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