As I learned when suggesting that Microsoft could take some cues from OS X Mavericks when thinking about what to include in Windows 8.2 Threshold, a lot of Microsoft users don’t like the idea that the Redmond company could learn from its competition. But I think this is wrong. Microsoft does a lot of things very, very well, but it is not the best at everything. This is certainly true in the case of Windows Phone.
Even the most ardent fan of the mobile operating system will admit that there is some room for improvement. Whether you like iOS and Android or not there are, undeniably, some things that they do better than Windows Phone. To admit that another operating system does something better that Windows Phone is not the same as admitting that the competition is better.
“Windows Phone 8.1 represents a great opportunity to iron out some niggles with the OS.”
I started my previous article about Threshold with a quote from Oscar Wilde. We’re already in paragraph three, but I think another one is called for. “If you must write prose or poems, the words you use should be your own. Don’t plagiarize or take ‘on loan’.” Words proffered by Morrissey in The Smiths’ Cemetry Gates (sic).
It’s not treasonous to suggest that one company should draw inspiration from another — this is how products evolve over time. It need not mean a trend toward homogeneity as there is always scope for adding unique twist.
Something that Android and iOS both handle quite well is notifications — Windows Phone could learn a lot in this area. It would be very handy to be able to pull down (or up or across) a notification screen that displays all notifications in one place. The ability to easily toggle settings on and off (wifi, Bluetooth etc) is something enjoyed by Android users and it would be an excellent addition to Windows Phone.
The ability to control media volume and ringtone volume separately would save great deal of embarrassment, and the addition of a battery percent countdown to the status bar would also be very useful.
One area in which Android really shines is in its support for third party keyboards — although the default Google keyboard is very impressive in its own right. Conversely, the Windows Phone keyboard is very restricted. Great customization, support for swiping, or even complete replacement would be welcome additions.
Of course there are plenty of things that could be added to Windows Phone that are in no way related to either iOS or Android. One thing that all mobile platform fail on is providing a file manager. Whatever handset you have you’ll have to turn to a third party tool if you would like to be able to manage the files you have stored on it — why shouldn’t Windows Phone get its own version of Explorer?
Windows Phone 8.1 represents a great opportunity to iron out some niggles with the OS. How about making it possible to disable haptic feedback entirely, including for the built in buttons?
So, it’s over to you. If you’ve used Android or iOS — regardless of whether you love them or hate them — are there any features you think Microsoft should incorporate into Windows Phone 8.1?