Why Design Inconsistency Is Ruining the Overall Experience of Windows Mobile 10

Microsoft Needs to Fix The Broken OS

Microsoft is getting back with Satya Nadella at the helm & Terry Myerson as his lieutenant. Desperate moves such as giving Windows 10 for free to pirates were taken, and the company has now moved to Windows-as-a-service era. Nevertheless, Microsoft hasn’t quite gripped the mobile market despite big investments. I recently got a Lumia 640 XL & wanted to try the OS & find out why people dislike the OS.

Windows 10 Mobile What Needs To Be Fixed

 icon-quote-left People dislike Windows Phone not because lack of apps, but because of lack of very basic functionalities like Wi-Fi Direct, or a good keyboard or good photo viewer or a good file manager. The basic functions are not quite there yet.  icon-quote-right

Don’t get me wrong, Windows Mobile 10512 is a nice build, however, I still don’t see the breakthrough on software, Microsoft needs to make to make a successful comeback. It’s still is WP8 on a new bottle just like WP8.1 was. They don’t have harmony between their own default set of apps and the core OS. The OS is far from finished, and still there is a long way to go. The software – still – is full of inconsistency, and what saddens me more after millions of feedback, they still can’t provide a “CONSISTENT UI & UX”.

The overall design inconsistency is too bold to ignore. Now is the time to fix the small things that matter to new users.

The design is very inconsistent across the whole OS. The MSN apps are a great example of how it should be, but the rest is not. Let’s start with some minor things first.

 icon-warning The Minor Annoyances

[The strike through ones are already fixed in Windows 10. I started to make the list from Windows Phone 8.1]

  • The default photos app should have the option to see the pic’s properties. (size/path/filename/date modified etc Done in w10.
  • App Store should give a direct link to Open App for installed apps, not view it. (Will be very helpful for those who comes from using Play Store) Done in W10
  • Files app should open photos via the photos app (done)
  • No way to check in messaging list in which number I’m messaging assuming the contact have more than 1 number saved [done]
  • Touch and hold should automatically send the command to select multiple things ex: photos, files. No extra button press should be needed. This practice has been the default option on iOS & Android and that makes it an obvious choice on W10 Mobile too. (Partially done in W10. The press & hold now shows option to delete and select. However, select should be always defaulted as they can always delete after selecting)
  •  icon-bullhorn  App Store notification integration. For example downloading app should show notification of progress in the notification center. Also it should notify about a successful install. Why the heck I need to open Store to view what’s downloading with no notification of successful app installs?
  • Close All Button in Recent Apps view. The new Windows 10 task view is great on desktop, but not so great in phones. There’s no chronological order and the swype down to close doesn’t work too often. You have to swipe exactly from bottom to downwards to close, which is very painful for large phones. A big portion of people raised voice against it on Windows feedback.
  • Files app should have support for both zip file extract and making new zips with the option to add  a password.
  • This one’s crucial. No folder view in music/photos/videos app. I dont want to view via the automatic algorithm. I want to view all my pictures right the way I am keeping it in my device. People who have large collection of photos & now all photos are scattered around in  a “Collection” view. There’s a great app for photo viewing in Android & that’s Quickpic.
  • No swype to close tabs on Microsoft Edge. You have to reach the top of the screen and exactly click the cross icon, which is a very hard thing to do! (Demo video: http://youtube.com/watch?v=I7krv6JJQGo.
  • The default keyboard is nonintuitive & gestures like back swype to delete last word, up Swype on full stop to write question mark etc are missing and hindering productivity. I can write a lot faster in Android by using third party keyboards like Touchpal/Swiftkey
  • No way to automatically save new unknown words to a personal dictionary of the keyboard. And now way to manage them manually (so misspelled words can be deleted).

 icon-times Different Context Menu in Modern Office

Why do the Office apps have different context menus than the rest of the operating system?

  Different Animation of Hamburger Menu in Different Apps

Sometimes the animation of the hamburger menu slides the content to the right and sometimes it slides to be above the content, hiding it

  Copy-Paste Behavior Not Okay

Copy and paste: Sometimes I need to double tap to select a word and press and hold to copy or paste, and then I need to simply tap and press the copy button on the keyboard

 icon-warning Pivots – Capital Letter and Small Letters

Sometimes the pivots are in capital letters (like in the people app) and sometimes they are not

(like in the MSN apps); sometimes the pivots have icons, sometimes they are text only

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  The Alphabet Jumping List is Always Different

The alphabet draw to quickly jump to a certain letter in a long list is always different

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 icon-random Random Placement of Settings Button

These are things which I found to be weird but not disturbing. Much worse, however, is the fact that the settings button is very random! Sometimes it is hidden in the hamburger, then either on top or at the bottom, in old apps it is inside the ellipsis menu and in new apps without hamburger it is also inside the ellipsis menu. I know where it is, but especially for new users this can be very annoying and confusing.

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 icon-bug Hamburger Menu & Pivots Combination

Let’s stay with the hamburger menu for now. Often, when pivots would be a much better solution, the hamburger is used, like in the pictures or in the music apps. Then there are also apps, like named MSN apps or Cortana, which make a good use of the hamburger button. The design team really needs to find a consistent way to use them. Really weird is the fact, that the desktop version of the Windows store uses pivots, but the mobile version has a hamburger. The other way around would make a lot more sense.

clip_image010[4]

 icon-thumbs-down Landscape View Is Not Optimized & Acts Weird

The hamburger behavior in landscape is very random as well. Some apps go full screen (the notification bar with the time, battery status etc. is hidden) and display either a small

bar with the sections of the hamburger menu as icons (the button only needs to be pressed to see the details of these icons) or the full menu. They make use of the rest of the screen to display a separated view of the content, e.g. all the emails on the left and the opened email on the right for the mail app. Then there are apps which do a very similar thing, but without hiding the notification bar. Lastly, there are also apps which do none of these things. They simply turn around but the hamburger button still has to be pressed to navigate through the pages and the content is not separated. Of course it does not always make sense to separate the content but the hamburger menu should always expand when the phone is in landscape mode. The email and MSN apps are an example of how it should be done, whereas the music and store applications are an example of

how it should not. Oh, and some apps do not support the landscape view at all (e.g. the Xbox app).

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Good – small expanded menu on the left and separated content; app is full screen

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Good – full screen and small expanded hamburger menu on the left;

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…hamburger button needs to be pressed for details only; app is full screen

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Okay – not full screen but separated view

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Bad – no advantage over portrait view: Separated content would not make sense but the hamburger menu could be expanded

Navigation Bar

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Let’s get to the navigation bar now. In the very beginning of the windows insiders program for Windows 10 mobile it was often criticized that it is on the top of the screen instead of on the bottom. The design team did some huge steps forward here and fixed a lot, for example, the navigation bar of Microsoft Edge now is on the bottom, just as in the mail and calendar apps. However, it is still far from perfect. First, the search button has gotten a quite consistent placement (yes!) on the top (boo!). Of course it is better to have it always in the same spot, but the top is a very unsatisfying placement for me. Holding the Windows key makes it easy to access the upper edge of the screen with one hand quite easily, but in my honest opinion it is still a very weird placement of the search button. Anyhow, a lot worse is the fact that still not all buttons are on the bottom. In the Xbox app for example all the important navigation buttons are still on the top.

That is everything I found so far. Of course the software is not finished yet and a lot of things might still change. The thing that worries me, however, is that there was no progress over a quite long time now and the release is coming closer and closer every minute. If Microsoft wants to get back in the race WM10 needs to deliver a high quality product, which it so far is not. What do you think? Let me know.  icon-smile-o

[Some resources were taken from WMPowerUser]

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