Last year around this time, Microsoft held an event to unveil the platform for Windows Phone 8. At this event they announced that Windows Phone would switch to a Windows 8 core underneath, thereby providing the platform the scale needed to future-proof their roadmap.
As we approach Microsoft’s now annual developer conference //build/, here are a few observations from my use of Windows Phone 8 where some desperate updates are needed:
- App update check: Windows Phone’s Store tile is set up to show a counter of how many apps need to be updated when updates are available. However, there are two big problems: there is no way to manually check for updates, and the updates still have to be manually applied. This needs to be fixed. Android has had the auto app update feature forever and the recently announced iOS 7 introduced that feature there too. At the bare minimum, users should be allowed to check app updates whenever they want to, rather than rely on some unknown schedule.
- Podcasts: While there are some major issues with podcasts like international availability, even where podcasts are available natively, there are two major flaws: just like app updates above, there is no way to check for new episodes manually, and for some bizarre reason, a partially played episode is subject to be removed from the phone based on the podcast series subscription settings. Let’s assume you set a podcast to keep 1 unplayed episode. You start listening to the latest episode but don’t completely listen to it. Overnight, if there is a new episode available, at least in my case I have noticed that the partially played episode gets removed! As per Windows Phone support twitter account, this is absolutely the expected behavior. I don’t agree, and this should be fixed.
- Do Not Disturb: Now that Windows Phone 8 apps have become more sophisticated and are able to provide reliable notifications, I have enabled notifications for quite a few apps. However, it is quite disturbing to receive random notifications in the middle of the night. It would be great to have a Do Not Disturb setting (like iOS 6) where all notifications except ones from designated users/apps are muted for a fixed time period.
- Notification sounds: Related to the above, it would be great to have a setting to keep notification sounds different for different apps. Right now, there are some special tones for voice mail, email, etc. but all other notifications get the same default notification sounds. Not only is it a problem to realize what app may have triggered the notification if the phone is not in one’s hand, it creates a bigger issue when there are multiple Windows Phones in the room.
In the next part of this topic, I discuss some issues with certain applications on the platform.