Windows Phone 8 From an Android Fan’s Perspective: Part 3

Ladies and gentlement, am back with the final post of my three-part series. In case you missed the previous ones, here are the links, go have a look:

  • Part 1 – My thoughts on WIndows 8 Phones, the performance and stability of the operating system and the the current state of apps.
  • Part 2 – Windows Phone 8 features that I really love and what sets it apart from the competition

In this last instalment, I’ll talk about some of the features on Android that I wish Windows Phone 8 had and what I think can be done to make to make Windows Phone 8 even better.

1) A Notification Center

Don’t get me wrong, I like the whole idea of live tiles and how they work, but there is just a small problem. On Windows Phone 8, you can get app notifications through a pinned Live Tile or a Toast – a notification that appears at the top of your screen then disappears after a short while. The problem here is that if you haven’t pinned an app as a Live Tile and you miss the Toast, the notification is gone.

A nice way to fix this would be to have an elegant, easy-to-access unified notification centre e.g. Swiping to the left edge of your screen could let you access notifications and quick settings or something of the sort. A blinking LED to let you know of that call you missed or that email or text message you received while you were away would also come in handy.

2) Apps

Sideloading Apps
Sideloading is the process of downloading an app on your PC, copying it to your phone and then installing it. This has been enabled…but only for phones with an SD Card. This means that people with a Nokia Lumia 920 like myself, or a HTC 8X miss out on this feature. Downloading large apps or games on the phone can sometimes take quite a long time e.g. it recently took me about 3 hours to download 878MBs of Asphalt 7 Heat.

Automatic Updates
When there in an update for an app you have installed, this notification is displayed in the Store, or as a counter on the Store Live Tile. You then have to manually choose to update it. I would like to have an option to let the apps automatically update themselves.

Closing Apps
I have no problem with the way Windows Phone 8 handles multitasking. You hold the back button and there you get a screen with a horizontal slider showing the apps you have running. I wish I could close apps am done with straight from this screen, say with a small close button on each app.

3) The Phone App

As it is, if you want to make a call, you either dial in the entire phone number, go to the People app and search for a contact or if it’s someone you’ve called recently, you can search the call log.

What would be even faster and easier is smart dialling. You just start typing in the phone number or contact name you want to call and get a filtered list of contacts that match your criteria.

4) Ringtones, Volume and Profiles

Sound Profiles
For starters, a way to manage sound profiles would be nice. This is a feature that was available in feature phones years back. You create a few sound profiles, say “Silent”, “Home”, “Work”, “Meeting” then by simply pressing a button or a Live Tile, you san switch from one profile to another. For now, the only thing  you can do is manually reduce the volume on your phone before dashing into a meeting.

Volume Controls
It would also be nice to have more control over volume. More often than not, I have to increase the volume when playing a game, and then I forget to turn it back down when am done…thereby irritating everyone in the office when I get a call or text notification. I’d like to have independent volume controls for the system, ringtone, notifications etc.

Ringtones
Another nice-to-have would be the ability to assign custom ringtones to certain contacts so you could easily tell who is calling you.

5) Universal Device Search

Windows 8 Phones have a dedicated search key which simply opens Bing Search and allows you to quickly search the web. There is however no way to search accross data from all your apps. This feature is already available in Windows 8, and it’s executed very well too.

Here’s an idea, the search key functionality could be extended to search through various apps and data e.g. music, documents, emails, text messages, contacts etc and present the results in a user-friendly well-categorized list.

6) Other Minor Gripes

Screen Orientation & Auto Rotate

Switching screen orientation across Windows Phone 8 is not consistent. Say am watching a video on landscape, I have to switch to portrait to use the home screen, then open say my web browser which I switch to landscape to read an article. I would prefer it if I could do everything in landscape.

The other thing is orientation lock. Everyone has experienced that moment when you’re in bed sleeping sideways and you want to read something on your phone and it switches to landscape. An option to lock the orientation would really come in handy in such a case.

Greater Color Choice
Windows Phone 8 allows you to customize the color of your live tiles with an option of 21 colors to choose from. You can also set your phone’s background to either light or dark. While we are at it, we might as well have a color picker so that you could choose whichever color for your background and accent color.

It’s a wrap…

This brings us to the end of the series. To sum it all up, Windows 8 Phones are well-made high quality devices and there is now one out there to fit anyone’s needs and budget. As for the operating system, it’s one of the most stable ones around and performs really well. When it comes to apps, the total number is not as much as the other app stores but the selection is enough even for dedicated smart phone users.

When it comes to how Windows Phone 8 stacks up against the competition, it has quite a number of unique features that set it apart and it can go head to head with the rest. There are a few missing features and a couple of things that need fixing. If you ask me though, the things Microsoft has done right outweigh the minor flaws by far.

If you’re in the market for a phone, pickup a Windows 8 phone and give it a try, you just might like it. I’d like to hear from you in the comments section. If you’ve used Windows Phone 8, what feature do you think would make it better?