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It’s hard to believe Windows Phone 7 landed in the hands of our first customers a mere nine months ago. Since then, we’ve been listening carefully to your suggestions to determine how to make the phone even easier, more efficient, and more fun.
Today I want to provide an insider look at some of the navigation improvements in our next release—including ones related to multitasking. As program manager for these features in Mango, it was my team’s job to help you move more easily around the phone, preferably without thinking much about how you got there.
Reviewing the basics
Before jumping right into what’s new, I want to rewind for a minute and recap our navigation philosophy.
There are two hardware buttons on every Windows Phone for getting around: Start and Back. Pressing Start takes you to the Start screen, populated by Live Tiles that can be pinned, removed, and reordered to suit your tastes. Start is both a launch pad for favorite apps and your personal space. It’s a big part of what makes your Windows Phone unique.
Flicking left takes you to the App list, where all your apps are ordered alphabetically. The App list is consistent and predictable. You can reliably find an app (even when it’s infrequently used) by name.
Finally, there’s the Back button, which pretty much does what it says: takes you back to the place you came from or left off.
That’s it. The model is pretty simple. But, as always, there’s room to make it better.
Finding apps faster
I have about 50 apps on my phone right now—roughly five screens worth. While the App list is predictably alphabetical, it can become quite long over time. Sure, I know where to scroll to find an app. But excessive scrolling is sub-optimal (engineering speak for “it’s a pain”). We’ve also heard this from those of you with large app collections. In Mango, we looked at a number of ways to make this experience better.
Tapping a header in the People Hub today opens the quick jump menu (left), which can whisk you to a specific section of your contacts list. In Mango (right), we’re adding the same feature and a search option to the App list.
One possibility we explored was ordering apps by how recently or frequently they’re used. While useful, this solution can prove disorienting and confusing, since app order is constantly changing. An App list organized by frequency would probably also look similar to your Start screen, where most people pin the apps that they care about most.
We also wanted the App list to feel consistent with other lists on the phone, like contacts. In the People Hub we use search and a quick jump menu to help you find contacts quickly. Ultimately, we decided that approach was the best solution for the App list, too.
Although there is one slight difference. When implementing the quick jump option, we wanted to balance function with aesthetics. If you don’t own many apps, the feature doesn’t make much sense, since the alphabet headers artificially lengthen the App list, creating gaps that make it feel sparse and unappealing. Hence, you’ll only see the headers when you have installed at least 45 apps.
While quick jump is helpful, I have to admit that sometimes it’s easier to just type an app’s name. So we also added a search option. If you’ve used it in People, it works like you probably expect, filtering the list of apps as you type. If you don’t find the app you were searching for, we provide a convenient link to get it from Marketplace by tapping Search Marketplace.
Have you ever wanted to quickly continue or finish something that you left off earlier? I run into this quite often. I’m in the middle of an intense Fruit Ninja game when a text message notification pops up at the top of my screen. It’s an I Can Has Cheezburger link. I must tap it! When I do, it takes me to the website, where I find a pic that’s so awesome that I must share it with my Facebook friends.
After all that, I really want to get back to whacking fruit. My instinct is to press the Back button. But if I don’t see what I want after a couple of tries, I usually press Start and navigate from there. What I really need is a way to hyper jump back to a specific point in time.
Sound cool? Say hello to the task switcher.
We believe the best way for someone to navigate between tasks is literally by showing them where they left off. Whether it’s a half-composed email, a game in progress, or the last photo you saw, you can return to it easily in Mango by pressing and holding the Back button.
In Mango, pressing and holding the Back button on your phone calls up the task switcher, which makes it easy to quickly pick up where you left off.
When you do, you’ll see a set of “cards” that represent the last 5 things you did or apps you used, arranged in the order you used them. (My team’s nickname for this feature is “visual back”.) These cards remind you what you were doing so you can pick right back up again. This is efficient multitasking.
Flick left or right and tap on a card to resume right from where you left off. The task switcher is designed to be fast and predictable (although it does require app developers to do some work on their end). Don’t get me wrong. I still use the Back button for its original purpose: to navigate within an app and or get back to the previous thing I was doing. But “visual back” helps you resume tasks that are a little farther away.
One design problem we pondered at length was how many cards to show. We wanted the experience to be intuitive and require minimal effort. Five seemed like a good balance. Having only a small number of cards ensures that the task switcher is predictable. Unlike other smartphones, this design also helps save you from having to babysit your apps, tracking which ones are running and manually closing them to conserve battery power. The phone does that work instead.
Of course, I know some people will probably wish there were more cards. As always, we’ll continue to monitor your reaction and reevaluate our design for future releases if needed.
We think getting around on a Windows Phone with Mango has never been easier and more fun. Working on these features has been tremendously rewarding for me. I hope that you’re as excited about what’s coming as I am.
Rachel Jiang, Program Manager, Windows Phone Engineering
Unrelated off-topic question: When are you going to deal with the carrier/seller bias issue? My last stop by a Sprint store had the sales associate telling me this, "I only recommend Windows Phone to business users who NEED to use Microsoft office programs like Excel and Word. For everyone else, it's Android. Do you use office or excel?"
My response was a plain and simple "no." Not only do I not use it for business purposes, but I rarely use those applications. Also, their Windows Phone was not on display but everything was setup for it. They purposely chose to not put it up on the empty bracket. Previous experiences were not as bad as this one but they weren't glowing reviews either. Finally, my friend who works at Verizon says they don't even have any HTC Trophies in stock. He says he sells anything and everything that's in front of him. He prefers Android still but how can he even have a chance at selling Windows Phones when they don't have it?
It would appear that what is being implemented is not "multi-tasking" in the strictest sense of the word, but more like fast app-switching where previously opened apps are kept in a static, suspended state. I've also read that third-party music apps (ie. Last.fm, iheartradio, etc.) will be able to run in the background (presumably through the Music Hub similar to the Zune apps functionality now). Is there any word on true multi-tasking functionality for programs such as Glympse (so that GPS data can continue to stream even if we switch apps)? Also, since in-app downloads appear to be part of Mango as well, will app-switching suspend the downloads or will they be allowed to continue in the background?
With capacitive buttons, it is hard not to accidentally click them when you are playing a game (ask my 3-year old, he will tell you it is a "pain"). Any plans to address this? For example, de-activate the buttons when a game is being played and only activate them with some other gesture like say long press of the Start button?
I'm running the ISV beta and the changes are astounding. Words can't explain how impresed I am with this update. There are a couple of glaring issues that I have found after just a couple of days of use:
1. Closing an app in the task switcher is not possible. That doesn't even make sense. Why not have a close "X" or a WebOS "throw it away" type of gesture?
2. When will we be able to group app icons? My list of apps is very long. The search helps, but I would also like to see grouping.
3. Still no screen capture? How can evangelize Windows Phone if I cannot captur screen shots and post to facebook?
One thing I believe is needed, though, is the ability to close a "background" app that shows up in the task switcher. I tend to run a clean ship and keep track of what I have open and review it every now and again. A simple (X) icon in the upper right of each tile would do the job nicely, I would think. Much like the unpin icon that shows on the tiles when you're re-ordering your start page.
[off topic] what are the chances of mango giving end users more tile colors (like 10+), without the options for customizing the background the tile color is the only thing that can make the phone uniquely 'yours'
I don't mind MS give us a preset list of colors ( some colors just won't work ) but how about 3 shades of red, orange, yellow, green, blue...and even gray!
@usctrojan98: I have a Samsung Focus and with the NoDo update MS did disable the capacitive buttons, only when you are moving your finger across the screen. If you happen to press one of the capacitive buttons after lifting your finger, then they are not disabled. I for one would not want the capacitive buttons to be disabled at all times when I'm in a game, or other app.
Its nice to see all these new changes in Mango :)
I too like this new navigation. However, I share the same concerns as frankwick. I hope someone can explain that better on either this Blog or the WIndows Phone Dev blog.
Right, give me a way to close an app from the task switcher. Having to tap on it and then press the back button and then open the switcher again for the next one is not. effiecient or good.
When it comes to app management, the one feature I wish would have been added was to have multiple screens that I can pin a tile to, instead of one. For instance, I would have a main screen with my phone tile, and maybe my email tiles. I'd have another one for all my Social Media tiles, another one for Utilities, etc.
That way, I can quickly scroll across to the category of tile I want, and then hopefully I shouldn't have more than a single screen full of tiles in that category.
NOW THAT would rock.
This was the best I've read on this blog in a long time. Please work as hard as you can to bring these devices to Sweden!
I would also like to know if there is a way to close the apps, and definitely more than 5 apps at a time, as mail, maps and zune take three away already. With the browser as one potential application, we are running out of options. Waiting to get my hands on a windows phone, waiting for my contract to get over and nokia to come up with Sea ray :)
I'm enjoying the beta, but a question/suggestion: currently, on the tiles screen there's an arrow which takes you to the app list. Underneath that arrow is a search button, but the search button only appears when you're on the app list - it even fades in/out as you scroll into and out of the app list. Why not just show the search button on the tile screen too, and automatically search the app list when you press it? It would save time whenever you know you want an app that's not easily accessible - sort of like how you can conveniently search for apps/files in desktop Windows by just hitting the windows key and typing.
Those are great features coming to WP, great work! Now, since you manage "navigation" in WP, can you detail plans to improve search for contacts? Currently, we can only search by name. I think everyone would want other types of searches such as Company, Phone Number, etc.
Hello, I don't know if this is a hardware/software issue, but is there a way for the phone to indicate that you have a message/missed call like RIM-BB does. They have a light indicator that flashes when you have something. I have to unlock the phone for this similar type of feature.
I'm using Mango Beta2 on my phone and it is amazing. There are very few buggs here and there and I think the beta 2 is very close to the final release. I LOVE MANGO and THANK YOU WINDOWS PHONE TEAM.
Very good work and I appreciate how you are listening to your user and implementing the best choice.
May i suggest that the "Visual Back" cards allow the ability to "kill" a task altogether?
IF possible on your end, a simple press and hold on a "card" (akin to reorganizing a live tile) would animate it to the foreground and on its top corner (left or right is your choice) would a "X" symbol to close exit task.
The "killed" app can save whatever progress you were on in the background whilst still allowing you continue with you navigation of the phone. On the other hand, you could have a "toast" message warning you off loss of unsaved data and a Yes or No confirmation options.
A small option like this would go a long way to giving the user more control of what they are running and the choice of how much they want to run whilst keeping within the five task rule.
What do you think?
btw... the pale color of the task switcher background isn't very visually appealing. Some pattern motif or image would help to break up the monotony and show how beautiful the OS can be even during such a technical function.
Thank you very much for reading this and for your fine efforts towards making this OS a viable competitor. Please keep up the good work, we appreciate it.
I initially had the same "where's the close button" reaction, but I don't think we really need it - the apps aren't actually running and consuming resources, and there's no need to close something to "clear up space in the list" when you can just start using the new apps you want to replace them with and they'll automatically displace other things in the stack.
Yes I agree we need a way of closing apps quickly within the task switcher.
@franwick, "group icons" is called the Start Screen. It makes no sense to me to group apps in the plain applist. With the added jumplist and search feature you can get to whatever app very quickly, and for those that I really want grouped access I can pin them to the start. I just don't see the usability of yet another view of the apps....I think that's a niche thing. I agree that it would be nice to be able to "throw away" a background app from the switcher would be nice. I suppose press-n-hold in the switcher gets you nothing, right? On the screen capture, there's homebrew for that (requires a companion app on the PC, so it's not actually capturing on the phone itself) and I played with it. It's okay, but I really don't have any use for capture. I am convinced the best evangilizing is done by demonstration of the device live, not by screen shots. I don't really think the issues you brought up are "glaring", but rather niche, except possibly the ability to kill background apps.
@DreilingStL, I think you're only partially correct. I'd call it intelligent multitasking. Let's be honest, not every app needs to be CONSTANTLY running in the background, so being suspended in a static state is the smartest thing (like games, for example). Other apps need to be actually running in background (e.g., audio apps, some messaging or chatting apps). So, really, unless we run into apps that have not been re-written to take advantage of the multitasking features, I think WP7's method of mulitasking/switching makes the most sense.
Also let's not forget that background scheduling and such has also been announced, so apps don't have to run all the time, they can set timers to fire off whenever etc.
Omigosh, @NickSchweitzer, NO! Please don't ask Microsoft to inflict iPhone or Android-like sea of icons on me! Sheesh. I just don't get why people want to turn WP7 into virtually the same interface you have with those other platforms, because that's really what you're asking for.
I agree with several of the other comments. The Mango changes are really great but there are some things that feel like they are missing.
1. Killing apps from multi-tasking screen in much more intuitive than activating the app and backing through it's old screens. Either like killing tabs in the browser or by swiping the card up.
2. App management is better but still needs help. Everything so far assumes that the user knows the name of the App. Does the bar code app start with "Bar", "QR", or "AT&T"? What if I want a recipe app, what was the name of that?
It would be nice if we could create a group, either a "group" tile or a group in the App list. Clicking it could "swipe" right into a sub-group of apps or something. It would also be nice if you could add pages (maybe to the left of the home screen) for addition organization of tiles.
@harishankarumapathy, someone running the beta would need to confirm this, but I THINK that some of the native Microsoft apps don't show up in the switcher. In other words, you can't affect their operation because they run in background, period. And, it sort of makes sense---basically, you'd only get to play with third-party apps in the switcher. Again, someone would need to confirm this.
@tribexx, a count of all outstanding emails, texts calls & voicemails are on your lock screen, at the bottom. You don't actually have to unlock the phone to see that....just wake up the phone. No OEMs have included any sort of light on WP7 devices. I think this would be another niche feature. I find it very convenient to simply press one button on my sleeping Focus and instantly know if I have anything outstanding that needs my attention.
Based on this blog post and the frequent reference to feedback and what people expect and common usage patterns, etc., I imagine a craploda of meetings too place before deciding on the final UI decision. While elegant and in fitting with the WP7 user experience, it doesn't address the central issue: customizing WP7 is a joke. The live tiles are not customizable. If they were, they would be "widgets" and variable sizes, a la Android. They are fixed data (and in Mango, dynamic data) that is not user actionable. There's ONE action: click. And there are two whole sizes: full and half. Want more tiles on the screen? Too bad. Want less tiles? Too bad. Want a different app launcher altogether because you hate the list view? Too bad! The One True Metro Design must NOT be violated!
WP7's hyperconsistent user experience is also its biggest downfall. Every time I get excited about a new WP7 feature and get tempted back to Microsoft after YEARS of WM, it's immediately tempered by the fact that WP7 has next to zero customizability and the default workflow is terrible.
The task switcher is a great example. Five (and only five) recent tasks to jump to is not multitasking. It's a very, very simple task switcher. Multitasking is running a task in the background while you go do something else in the foreground. And while the WebOS tiles sure look cool, what a pain it is to have to flip through them! What if I want a smaller list of icons I can just immediately click on? Too bad. What if I want more than five most recent tasks? Too bad.
Ugh. This strict design philosophy is just way too Apple-like.
WP7 team: learn from the Windows team. Windows 8 has a brand new interface (inspired from your great work) but they are not forcing everybody to use it! Windows can still be customized! Why not take that design approach?
@ScubaDog2011 - Because the so-called "sea of icons" interface is fast and intuitive. Not everybody wants a six mile long list of application titles to scroll through. When you know where an icon is, you can target it very quickly. That's why that sort of launcher has survived the test of time.
I dont understand why we need individual alphabet headers once the app count crosses 45. This completely spoils the app list look and design. Considering that all alphabet headers takes us to the same quick jump menu, it would have made perfect sense to have just a single icon, may be below the search icon, that opens the quick jump menu..rather than individual alphabet headers..
..to add on from my last post, the quick jump menu in the app list should have been mandatory..scrolling thorough 35-40 apps is still a pain..
In all the videos I have seen that demonstrate the multi-task screens, two comments come up almost every time:
1. How do you close a running app (or really, how do you get rid of a card)
2. Why is the interface so unappealing
Addressing comment 1, even if those cards aren't consuming ressources, there are many people who simply like to be able to keep a clean system and hate the idea that some applications appear to still be running. A simple interface where you can swipe the cards away, like the notifications, would do the trick. Personally, I am fine with the current Mango implementation. But many will complain if they feel that they can't close applications.
Comment 2, I agree with. The multitasking interface can be aesthetically improved to be much more visually engaging. I love the chromeless look and Metro design language, but this multitasking interface does not convey the same aesthetics as the rest of the OS does. It just looks unfinished.
All in all though, awesome work on Mango!
The OS that you are describing is Android. If that is what you're into, that's fine, and Android is a great OS. But like most people here, I don't want to have to customize my phone in order to have it work well. It should be designed with careful consideration from the start. That's what you get with WP7, and I hope that this never changes.
From your wording, it sounds as though you don't own a WP7 device. You call the flow terrible, but I call it efficient and intuitive. Get a phone, give it a try, then you may criticize.
@parrotlover77...So instead of scrolling down and up all on one screen, you'd rather scroll from right to left then have to scroll back left and maybe do that 5 or 6 times before getting to the page you need??? Okay...whatever floats your boat.
IMHO, I like the long list...it's moves quickly and everything is AUTOMATICALLY in alphabetic order. I don't have to move crap around rearranging all the time, creating groups. etc. WP7 has one fluid screen for all your apps. Doesn't get any better than this. If you want pages of icons, stick with iCrap or Android.
Thanks for your thoughtful comments everyone. It’s great for the team to read your feedback!
Let me address the topic of closing or killing apps and task. First, your desire to “clean-up” the task switcher so that your phone is in order is completely valid. We did give this area a lot of thought. Our decision to not provide a way to kill tasks was made for two reasons. We wanted to provide an easy way for customers to get back to a previous task without also creating management overhead. What that means is that we don’t want our average customer to have to worry about what’s “running” and to have to decide when and what to close. In addition, by limiting the number of cards to 5, we believe that the need to do cleanup is drastically reduced. The phone automatically cleans up older tasks, so that you don’t have to. That said, there is definitely a tradeoff between simplicity and full control for customers. For us power users, it’s certainly nice to have more cards and the ability to pick and choose which ones to keep around. However, for the average customer, closing tasks is a burden. They may feel obligated to do so, because they worry about the implications of leaving tasks “open.” We did not want our average customers to have to make this call when using their Windows Phone. I hope this provides a bit more insight into the topic. As mentioned, we will continue to monitor customer usage after Mango is released to determine how we can improve the task switcher.
On the general topic of multi-tasking, yes, we have a lot of exciting multi-tasking capabilities like background audio and background downloads for app developers to leverage. Look for a future post on these capabilities!
Thanks again for taking the time to tell us what you think.
Love Mango, but I have 3 things..
1. The buttons on the App quick jump menu are now black button with blue text. I find it hard to read and it looks weird. I like the blue button with white text better.
2. I would also expect a close button on the task switcher.
3. I would like a recently used just like the XBOX live.
- How about letting us organize the apps ourselves in our own customized Hubs?
- If I'm on the app-list, how do I quickly get to Bing if the Search button is now for searching apps?
- Background colour for switching apps is ugly. Can you just keep it black?
I agree with what frankwick said especially about being able to close the task switcher windows by an X on the corner (just like IE is) or by swiping them off the screen...
The screen capture would also be cool...
And where is the tethering and native RDP app ??????
Other than that, I am enjoying the hell out of my Mango powered Samsung Focus. IE9 kicks a s s!!! Thanks Microsoft!
Mango is great, but WP7 is still missing basic features (and apps) like sending contact info via SMS or a stopwatch/timer app.
The BING voice search works great when I'm playing around w/ it at home, but almost never works when I really need it to work the most -- when I am out and about. Really frustrating and makes me hesitant to use the new Mango features like voice-to-text SMS or the BING vision and music search.
I dont see how a simple thing like closing a task has anything to do with "average users" vs "power users". Infact its "we - the average users" who are requesting for the ability to close tasks! I have been using the Mango beta for a couple of days now and the new features are truly amazing. Its just annoying to see those open tasks and we all wish we had the ability to close tasks. Also closing the last used task first does not make sense. What if the last used task was a very important incomplete email that I was composing! User needs to have control so that we can manage tasks based on priority..
Also please get rid of the alphabet header in the app list. Its awkward. Include a single icon in the app list screen which takes us to the quick jump menu..
I am running Mango beta on my T-Mobile HTC HD7. By the way, I really LOVE it and I am not able to get back to NoDo. I cannot believe you are calling this the 'Beta', It works better than any RC OS that were released out there.
One quick issue though, When I initially flashed the Mango on my device, it had the Alphabet shortcut that was shown in the screen shot above. But I had to get my device exchanged and had to flash the Mango on the new device, I am missing this feature.
I am not sure how that is possible... Any help is highly appreciated. Anyone that has the answer, can send me communication to vizagdude at gmail dot com.
@vizagdude: You will only see the alphabet header if you have 45 or more apps...
just wondering who chosed the green backgroun for the multitasking screen??EEEWWW,its awful
Yes, it's absolutely essential in Task Switcher view that the user can delete a card by FLICKING it off the screen or pressing an X icon.
@ashok, If you have Mango Beta then you either work for MS, a fairly large phone blogging site, or your a dev. And even if your none of those, if your reading this blog your not an average user lol. All of which mean your far more knowledgable and savvy than the "Average User" The average user would be those who buy smart phones in mass and dwho knew that you could close background tasks. The masses dont care about memory usuage and cpu usage and what programs require more resources than others, they expect all apps to operate fast and smooth, to open an app and it work and pick up right where you left off, and to be able to quickly switch between apps. While i appreciate androids true multitasking i think WindowsPhone Mango has the best implementation for both Devs And users. From a User Standpoint as long as everything is running smooth and fast why would you need to close an app?
@kenny not sure if your serious, but in the event that you are, the background in the task switcher is determined by which ever theme you have on your phone.
I have Mango on Omnia7 ( beta version) and it really annoys me that I can't close apps and that 5 cards limit is worst idea. When you surf over IE9 tabs are shown in cards and I can't close them in switcher, so my apps are closed, but I get many tabs working. The limit should have been 7-10 and there should be an option to kill apps. Also, multi-tasking is very weird. Sometimes I get 2-3 messaging cards, instead of one. Also, I want to share something, that isn't about multi-tasking, but in Zune player when you play an album there should be an option to go back to all albums.
Mango looks good and I like it! Is there a possibility to suggest features and minor bugs? when i'm reading here comments, I notice I'm not the only one. Good work WP7 Team! regards philipp
Nice and all that you want to make it easier for the average customer (... not really, who cares), but taking choice away from the not average customer is not the way to go.
For example: why can't I close the music player unless I restart the phone. Probably some bla bla about the average custome but I just want those buttons on the lockscreen and volume controls gone when I have no intention of using them.
@frankwick: I also thought that "Quick Jump" card should have Close button or something to close that app. But after playing with it and updating my app (Event Countdown) with background task, i found the following:
1. Quick Jump cards is just "App-Switching". It is not multi-tasking. Quick jump cards shows the applications even if they dont do any background processing. It is the same way like windows phone 7 when you navigate using back button. The only change is now they are showing that navigation stack to go to particular app quickly.
2. For all the background running apps, you should go and see "settings --> applications --> Background tasks". That is where you can see what applications have background tasks and whether you want to enable particular app with background work.
I guess, it is pretty neat on how they implemented background tasks and still as an "end-user" i can enable or disable them.
I hope when Mango updates comes out, they release short video of upgrades just like those on Youtube. I won't able to so many new features, even though I am keeping the track of updates :)
@king: I agree that the average user does not care about memory and CPU usage and its good that the phone automatically closes old tasks. But why completely take away the option?? The average user would still not worry about open tasks (phone takes care of it for them), and the rest of us, would have the choice of closing tasks. This way both groups get what they want.
I also have a problem with limiting the number of open tasks to 5. I generally have 2-3 IE pages open on my phone and this would essentially mean I can only open a max of 2 more apps..
1. Add the option to close tasks within the "quick card" view
2. Increase the number of quick cards.
Btw I just love the way we can quickly switch between multiple IE pages using the task switcher. I hardly use the tabs option in IE anymore..
One thing I have to beg for is to please put the settings app as a seperate icon underneath the arrow in the apps sections.. It is very frusterating for people that try to save battery by turning WiFi on and off multiple times thoughout the day to scroll to the bottom of the apps section
I do not know why you do not put menu in Grid mode !
@ScubaDog2011 Microsoft apps also show up in the task switcher. For example, if you are using the mail client to compose an email, you can tap the window button and enter another app and copy text. Then use the task switcher to go back the the email you were composing and paste the copied text.
@Lachliggity Why don't you just pin to start your settings app?
I know this doesn't relate to this story exactly, but any word on having a dedicated back button in IE, so when you accidentally hit the start button and go back to you IE you can actually go back a page? has it already been announced?
Rachel - with all due respect you're talking like a manager, which just never works.
Please don't patronise us. Don't say "we’ve been listening carefully to your suggestions to determine how to make the phone even easier, more efficient, and more fun" then turn around and tell us what people will think in regards to app closure.
You have 57 comments as of yet in this blog post. 95% of those comments specifically state that they want to be able to close apps and processes they aren't using. The other 5% just haven't mentioned it. Almost every single person in this thread owns a windows phone and is making your job completely simple. This is a complete no-brainer, and the decision to ignore an almost 100% agreement amongst your consumers would be catastrophically stupid.
I hope you can take a step back and realise that amongst 57 people unanimously telling you exactly what they want, you're then telling them they don't actually want it at all.
You also need to make the homescreen/tiles more customisable. Same again. Don't have 74 group meetings about it, don't consult a market research team to construct a case study - just go onto every single WP7 review/discussion out there and identify the plain fact that the vast vast majority of the community wants a MUCH greater degree of customisation.
Can't wait to mango to come out! :)
skimming the comments, why do people need to close stuff in the task switcher? I'm confused...
@Tommy - that's why there are choices out there - Android, iOS, WebOS, Blackberry etcetc
57 comments on a blog is not enough research to say "Oh man MS is so wrong on this and these people are right"
I am guessing they had regular people come in and tell MS what they wanted, what they liked and what they didn't like
She feels the way they implemented is best but should there be a greater need for change it will be addressed and changed at a later time
@Parrotlover77, I not only disagree with you, I militantly disagree with you. I absolutely, without qualification do NOT want WP7 to emulate, in any shape or fashion, Android or iOS. If you want that, then PLEASE, please, please just switch to Android, since that's apparently what you like better. Customization in the way that you mean, as far as I'm concerned, completely takes away from some of primary things I love about WP7. I HATE Android. I HATE iOS. Part of that reason is because I got to a point where I HATED what Windows Mobile had become.
As for your contention on the five-app limit in the switcher, I suspect the reason for the limit is because Microsoft has a pretty good idea what memory and performance limitations are reached, on average, by x number of apps "keeping time". As I mentioned before, I don't think that native apps are shown in the switcher, meaning they may take up resources but are managed internally--I could be wrong, of course. If I'm right, then that means you have the five apps PLUS any native apps floating in background. Again, I hated Windows Mobile because I was ALWAYS bouncing apps around since my resources usage would eventually drop usability down to zero. In keeping with Microsoft's target of "glance & go", I don't want to have to manage the device.
On the "sea of icons", again, I couldn't disagree with you more. It is NOT fast or intuitive. Because everyone can create an utter mess with their Android phones, you can't expect to hand someone your phone and have them simply do something with it. In contrast, I have yet to hand my Focus to someone and find them having any difficulty getting to something on it.
Finally, as for your Windows 8 reference, what you saw was the fact that Windows 8 has a "touch-first" philosophy, which differs from the smartphone, which is a "touch ONLY" concept. Also, the demos you see emphasize a considerable degree of backward compatibility. I think you can totally expect that as the other software that the Windows desktop uses matures, they will also look more like the Metro-esque UI. In other words, the next big version of Office may look very much like that rather than what it looks like now.
Ultimately, what you're talking about is insisting that WP7 be a two-interface system. I'll drop the platform in a second if your wish ever comes to fruition.
@Ashok Hoysal, you have to understand that they did it that way to be consistent across the platform. Your People Hub is exactly the same way. I like it, and, in fact, many of us asked specifically for this feature to be added to the applist. I'd MUCH rather have that than a sea of icons.
@WinPhonePhan, you're talking about grouping, not a hub. I still think most people do not completely understand the hub concept. In fact, I think not even Microsoft fully realized their own meme when it came to the hubs, though it looks like Mango goes a long way toward that. I don't see the sense, within the context of how WP7 works, of having sub-groups. I hated that in Windows Mobile, having to drill down into nested groups to find apps. It's also why I can't stand Android in particular.
@Rachel Jiang, thank you so much for following up. I hadn't read your second post yet, but it confirmed what I suspected was Microsoft's intent, and I completely agree with it. Background management was tedious and painful in Windows Mobile. One thing you might confirm or deny, if you can--along with the five cards, are certain native apps that may also be running in background "hidden" from the switcher, or do they show up as well?
@Sogeman, you apparently disagree with Microsoft's target market. And that's fine, of course. But if Microsoft has decided that their most profitable market is X and you're a Y, then it may be that WP7 isn't for you---yet. I can list a whole lot of examples where I'm clearly not the target audience, but yet the producer is quite successful because they cater to the audience that IS their target. I don't subscribe to HBO, Showtime or the rest because their target audience isn't someone with a modicum of traditional values. But they are very successful with their target audience. Lexus, Audi, Subaru and many others clearly do not have me in mind as a target audience (there's no way in the world I'd buy their products) but they are successful with the market they target. In the case of WP7, they aren't taking choice away. You have a choice: WP7, iOS, Android or others. It all comes down to utility. Of the three platforms, which one MOST meets utility for you? It's that simple. If you desire customization more than certain functionality, then WP7 currently won't meet your utilization needs as well as Android. If integration and near seamless movement from one app's functions to another is higher on your priority list than creating pretty little groupings with fancy backgrounds, then WP7 probably better meets your needs. It's whatever fits the best utility. Speaking for myself, the beauty and utility of WP7 is so far advanced over iOS and Android's old meme, there's no way I'd pick the other platforms. The customization that Mango will provide satisfies any serious need I might harbor. Outside of that, it would be waste and detract from what I really like about Metro as a UI. So, which most closely fits your needs? Answer that question, and you have the platform you should go with for now.
@mdoan300, two things. First, you know there is a plethura of timer/stop watch apps in the Marketplace, right? I think having a native one would be a bit of a waste, particularly since some of the third-party ones are pretty cool. Second, can you explain more about the issues you're seeing with the voice-to-text and voice search? I know the Mango beta isn't quite ready for prime time, so there are probably capabilities that are not fully implemented, but what is it you're running into with it? I'll be wanting to use these features a LOT when Mango get released to the public, so I'm curious to know what weaknesses there may be.
@Ashok Hoysal, as I mentioned in another post, the alphabet jumplist showing up at 45 apps or more is so that it's consistent with the People Hub. So, it sounds like you would prefer they get rid of that with the People Hub, too (this would be necessary if they are to keep the platform consistent). If you're okay with it being in the People Hub, then could it be that 45 apps is still too few a number to make the jumplist usable? I'm just askin'.
@arrow22, can you explain more what you mean by the task switcher interface being unappealing? From what I've seen it looks really nice. It keeps with the pivot idea (moving between the app cards) and shows you a picture of the last state the app was in (which I think is PERFECT, and hints somewhat at how the desktop does when you move across the apps on the taskbar). Also, read @Rachel Jang's follow up in this thread regarding the thoughts beind the task switcher. To be honest, what were you doing regarding background apps prior to Mango? You probably never gave it a thought---because all of that was hidden. Now, suddenly, the curtain has been pulled back and you have the ability to actually navigate between the last five active apps (the rest, according to Rachel, are put to sleep as with NoDo). Here's the thing: WP7 was designed from the ground up to manage resources MUCH better than iOS or Android ever dreamed of. So, either you trust the OS to do a good job of it or you don't. Insisting on manually "cleaning up" the device is a throwback to the old Windows Mobile way of life (which I lived since PocketPC and hated). If it turns out that the OS no longer manages things better, then I'd agree that giving us back that management capability would be important (and dramatically reduce WP7 as a desireable platform compared to the memory disaster that is Android).
@Ashok Hoysal, the choice of 5 app cards was already explained by @Rachel Jiang. As for IE, that's not the same thing. You can have as many tabs as the app allows (and there are other brower front-ends--Surf Cube or Metro, for example). Limiting running apps to five cards isn't going to affect your tabs--no more than it does now (which I often have six or more tabs up). Also, Microsoft isn't "taking away" an option, because it never existed in WP7 in the first place. Folks need to stop playing the "well, in Windows Mobile we could......." This is a new animal. This isn't Windows Moble 7. Again, what did you do with background apps pre-Mango? Nothing. Now we have a way to reasonable navigate background apps, while allowing the OS to handle the management of resources. I don't think you trust the OS to do it's job, either because it sucked so badly in Windows Mobile or it sucks so badly in iOS and Android. It's worked surprisingly well up to NoDo that I'm willing to give Microsoft the benefit of the doubt with Mango, too. If it turns out to start degrading performance, then I'll rethink my position. But why not wait and see?
@Lachliggity, I've been using the homebrew apps that handle WiFi, Bluetooth and Airplane mode separately. I have them pinned to the Start page, so while I like your idea, I'd rather the API be available to allow a Marketplace app to do what I'm doing with homebrew apps now. I'm never more than a click away from various radio control.
@Teufel Hunden, so you're saying any native app you run takes up one of the cards? Thanks for clearing that up. Now that you mention the scenario I can see why it would make sense. What about the Zune player? In fact, I'd like to have someone test something: run five native apps, with Zune player being the first, and then throw in a third-party game or some other third-party app....does Zune disappear from the switcher list? If not, is it still running? I'm just wondering how it manages those resources.
are you working to improve battery life in mango update ?
@Tommywannabe, yes, and then they risk losing the rest of us as customers. I would argue that most of the people who post in these forums do not represent the largest portion of the actual customers, nor the target customer. In other words, we are a subset of their customer base. If their research showed that most of their target audience wants certain features and doesn't want others, then I think it's reasonable to consider that. You keep insisting on the task-closing option---which Microsoft may yet add in a future release, who knows---but I have yet to see any good reason from someone WHY. What I typically hear is they go back to the tired Windows Mobile philosphy, which sucked badly and was a nightmare because WM did a horrible job ITSELF of managing resources. I'm a geek. I'm fully versed with getting into the weeds with OSs and devices. I not unwashed when it comes to using homebrew on my device (though I'm hoping this becomes less of a need with future versions of the OS). But I don't want to have to get into the weeds. I want an OS that is super-clean all by itself, that manages things all by itself with very little interference by me. Truly, a glance & go experience. I'm a root cause kind of guy. In the case of task closing, I can't escape asking why it's needed.
@Scubadog2011,Looks like you´ve got lots of time,for having to go through every single person´s comment.well while i agree with you on mosy of the issues you mentioned in your replies also d´isagree with some,among which the idea of 5 cards its is not a pain in the ass,its true task switching i guess is a tough job to make it incorporate the metro UI,but given the fact IE tabs count as cards,then 5 cards is no way sufficient.I personally don´t even need the task switcher and the multitasking thing,so it doesn´t mean anything to me
For all those asking for customization of the UI,i think y´all still don´t get the idea of WP,which i summerize by simplicity and elegance,though i agree on the fact that WP lacks a lot in functionalities i thing what microsoft got right the most on WP is the UI,AND TO ME ITS JUST PERFECT,true that i will like too see more themme colors,like gray :)
most of us on this blog and other WP blog/forum,might constitute a good userbase of WP but not the targeted audience.Microsoft targets the average user,but from what i see on this blog and others,about 99.5% of the comments come from advanced users
one thing you guys should understand is that there are some great ideas which can be easily implemented in the WP,the greatest challenge is to maintain the consistency of the metro UI and the hub approach.if you want a phone were everything in the phone looks diferent then Android i guess is the way to go
Thanks again all. We really do appreciate the feedback.
With regards to timeline, we've pretty much wrapped up our engineering efforts for Mango. However, as we work on future releases, we'll definitely keep your feedback in mind.
Many of your are concerned about how IE tabs are integrated into the task switcher. To be honest, this integration needs more work. In Mango, we allow you to switch between tabs using the task switcher. This is the first step. In the future, we need closer integration of tabs into this experience.
We also want to provide greaterr customization for our customers ranging from more colours to perhaps being able to organize apps. I can't make any promises, but can only say that these areas that you've hit on are things that the team wants to evaluate.
To clarify, what is displayed in the task switcher - we show you the last tasks that you were doing. It does not show everything that is "running." Background music may be playing from Last.fm, but it does mean that there is spot reserved for Last.fm in the task switcher. Hope this helps.
@Rachel Jiang, as you can see the thoughts on the task list is very decisive in favor of allow a task to be killed from this screen. I know you put a lot of though into it, but that doesn't make it right. Consider the camera settings in pre-Mango. Microsoft also put a lot of thought into having the defaults re-loaded every time. Thankfully you listened and this was changed in Mango and our camera preferences are now saved. Why not listen to users now before it's too late? Really, the current implementation is UGLY and HOKEY. It just seems to natural to "close" a task. WebOS really got this one right. COPY THEM!!
Wait, what? @Kenny Rawlins, you say individual TABS are treated as a card? Okay, now that's just plain silly. Would someone with Mango please try the Surf Cube app or Metro Web Browser and tell me if tabs in either of those show up as separate cards? I'm betting they don't, but I'd like to know for sure.
@franwick, again I must insist on asking: WHY? Why do you need to kill tasks? Especially now that you know that not all running tasks even show up in the switcher? To insist on it is just a waste of effort for no value other than "peace of mind".
@Scubadog2011 Let me clarify.
I am a big fan of the quick jump menu . Infact if you read my previous comments carefully I have requested this to be made mandatory in the app list. However I dont exactly like the 26 alphabet headers . I know that this would make the UI consistent with the People hub, but thats no reason why you need to have the same approach for everything else.
If you look at it, all the 26 alphabet headers in the app list take you to the same quick jump menu. Why do we need 26 extra icons in the app list which do the same thing? Why cant we have a single icon that does the same??
This would also mean that I can access the quick jump menu irrespective of the app count. As of now, if I have 44 apps I still have to bear the pain of scrolling through the huge list.
I think it would be really cool if my phone could copy and paste like my iPhone.
@Ashok Hoysal,I just had the same idea.
@Rachel,i think it will be a great idea even in the people hub to take a way the letter header for each group of contacts that start with the same header,and just have one button at the top of the list that opens the quick jump menu.its true for me i will never have to deal with those headers in my applist,since i usually don't like installing more than 5 third party apps on my phone ,but even in the contact list and zune music list i find those headers ugly and useless,hope you fix ASAP after mango,since the ingeneering is done in mango
@Rachel Jiang I must agree with most comments regarding the absense of a closing functionality in the task switcher. I also agree with you in the sense that the average user won't need that level of customization.
But, can a little "X" cause harm to the average user? I doubt it. If the average users don't need it, they wont use it and and will forget about it as long as it don't get in their way.
BTW, great work. Mango looks fantastic, and the beta run almost flawlessly in my device.
CAN WE HAVE A WINDOWS PHONE APP FOR THIS BLOG,WHICH WILL ALLOW US POST COMMENTS,BROWSE THE POST FROM OUR WINDOWS PHONES??
I agree with ScubaDo that Windows needs to be its own OS. If I was so insecure that I needed to buy an i-phone or android, I would have. I never owned a crackberry and would never own one. I realise that the money resides with the masses and the masses are still looking for the any key and that is the only reason why i-OS had a chance. I use my phone as a palm-sized computer and not so much as a phone. I will not ever use social media and I wish I could delete it from my phone. Can we get a file browser so I can find the presentations I need to give. Can we get driver support for a bluetooth keyboard? Can we get an option to access the phone as a USB drive? I love the Skydrive, but I would love being able to hot swap SD cards, but would be more than happy with just being able to swap them out by shutting down the phone and restarting. I like the newest fixes and cannot wait for Mango.
Hi. I have to agree with most of the previous comments:
- we definitively need a close button in the multi-tasking switcher,
- we need access to more than the last 5 apps;
- the bg color for multi-tasking won't be green, will it? =)
Still waiting for comments on improvements made on contact search.
The integration of the Facebook chat and MSN its good idea, but, in the practice, send a message its too complicated, for example this scenario, if your contacts of hotmail, facebook and sim card dont stand Full organized for you, search conatcts for send message its a trouble and if your contacts have old information in their profiles, clean this data is too hard. How to fix this trouble? Thanks in advance. Sorry for my broken english.
i'm a sort of business user and WP7 is no good to me if I cannot send attacments other than pictures...what on earth is going on with that... I have a dev version of Mango at present and it is still the same...which is a real shame.
About the task switching. You should just add the ability in the settings to choose up to how many apps one will be able to switch from. The default will be 5 and the numbers to choose from will be from 5-10 or more but not alot. That way everyone can be happy so you won't have to go back appeal to the majority, you can appeal to everyone. You'll have to just add another thing to settings.
Also i agree with some others about being able to close some apps in the task switcher.
A way to close an app while in task switcher mode will make the consumer feel that they are fully in control of their WP7 device. The multi tasking that mango brings to the platform is a highly anticipated feature and it only feels right that it should offer not only the ability to switch apps; but to be able to quickly close and app that is no longer in use, it can also help minimize battery consumption at the users discretion. I am very impressed with my WP7 device and know that it has all the potential necessary to be the smartphone powerhouse of the future; but with that being said the attention to the small details can make or break the success of the OS. Things as simple as not having the option to close an app tab while multi tasking could be the difference in a consumer picking up a WP7 Mango or buying back into iOS or AndroidOS. If MS can get the WP7 platform into a consumers hand I'm confident they won't want to put it down but only by giving the consumers the small detailed conveniences will they get the crossover from what users know to the next generation of Smartphone that is the WP7 OS.
Also again regarding the task switcher. People have been complaining about the back ground color. You should just make the back ground of the task switcher color the color of whatever accent color the user has chosen.
(Off Topic) I still think you guys should add much more accent colors, but also i think a color mixer could be used along with the accent colors for darker or lighter accent colors or a completely different color all together. Also even create, save and name your own colors. The 10 accent colors we have now are just nice but it's a little few for me.
I agree with Windoze9t8 , we should at the very least be able to video to a message, non smartphones have that capability.
Great job, Rachel and team. I'm beyond ecstatic about these Mango updates and, in general with all the momentum Windows Phone is garnering lately. It's a thrill comparing the slue of recently released marquee apps, NY TImes, USA Today, MTV News, France24, EPI, Groupon, etc, to name a few, with friends who have iOS or Android -- they're envious.
I would have to agree with comments about grouping of apps. The unending scroll is tiresome and unnecessary. Also, Skydrive access (including Zune downloads) is an absolute must if we want to stay competitive.
I also agree with other comments about carrier promotions. It does seem that whatever store you visit, especially Verizon and Sprint, the phones aren't displayed and, in all cases (including at&t) the sales associates aren't knowledgeable enough about functionality, etc, and do go out of their way to steer patrons to Android and iOS phones. Lastly, as we all know, you're lacking massively in compelling promotions, seriously. You need a team that gets the smartphone market and key demographics to have a chance at making inroads with the finicky buying public. Efforts so far have been very poor . To end on a positive note though. keep up the good work with the updates..
So after reading all of these comments, I have to say I agree that the 'why' comes up about the task switching. I'll leave that topic at that because I see both sides of it.
However, one thing got me running over to my PC to login and comment was the explanation of 'average' user. One thing that MS is missing in that belief of what the "average consumer" is. Who influences people that don't know anything technical? More tech savvy people do. Including reviewers and sales people at the carrier's stores. The hostile environment for WP7 at carrier stores almost amounts to a conspiracy...particularly in light of how good WP7 actually is! That said, I've been doing an informal poll over and over again this past year...and every single person I talk to has a common set of answers about why they chose an iphone or Android. "Because it was available and the sales person told me it was the best.", "Because I can do whatever I want with it including customize the heck out of the ring tones.", "Because I can make it operate unique to me.", "Because I'm a texter and the WP7 hardware options weren't there...and no I don't like the SW keyboard no matter how much you do", "My teenage son/daughter said it was the phone to get for the most capability.", "I hear Apple is the best.", "Frankly, I couldn't find it at the store even though you told me it was there, and then the sales person told me it wasn't the best anyway."[seperate conversation on how my influence was stomped over...but it related to percieved popularity because they read about it in several articles in the press]
At best, those responses mean MS advertising is going to have to seriously motivate the average person into overcoming those influentials. Or, MS is going to have to win over the technically savvy reviewers and sales people. Have you guys been -reading- the reviewers? It is a TOUGH crowd out there that doesn't want to cut MS a break even when MS is technically executing extremely well with a better phone OS.
I would bet that the average smartphone user is more technically savvy. They [the reviewers and/or tech savvy] may zero in on the inability to kill an app in the task switcher...so it would be a good idea to pre-emptively get out there with some good marketing which people hear in the "average" forum. But it may be interesting to remember that the original WP7 ad campaign talked about how you would spend less time on it...and the reviewers blasted that they LIKED spending a lot of time on their phone. Otherwise, why have the gadget that does more than phone calls, texting, and checking Facebook? So, whatever the ad campaign...MS needs to resonate with -everybody-....not just the average consumer who listens to the more technical influentials. Win over the power users, reviewers, and sales people...and the rest will follow. Anyway, I confess I don't have access to Mango...so maybe it is already a long way there. The theme I'm pointing at here is to remember who the influencers of the final purchase are.
The fact that WP7 isn't already the number 2 phone out there is because of those influencers finding a few relatively unimportant nits to rip apart with wild abandon; not the average consumer saying they weren't interested because it was more complex than the other guy. Not that it is, but that is the point. Choice is important for the broadest possible appeal.
I have a few ideas for you...
For future updates, I think you could use the extra space above and below "visual back" for extra features. For example, there could be a screenshot button on the top of the switcher that allows you to take a screenshot of the card you currently are focused on.
More utility usage could include "sub-tasks" in the space below a given card (if applicable). For example, your Internet Explorer task card could show tabs below it. Angry Birds could have your most recent levels. Zune could show your most recent played songs, etc. It could be another way you could allow developers to make the most out of task switching.
In fact, it is somewhat similar to the way the Windows 7 taskbar previews handle similar issues.
will someone please explain to me why I cannot archive my text messages ????? Either via backup to PC via Zune or to a web resource .... Like with myPhone for WP6 ???????
...and don't get me wrong about the previous post. I'm not saying an X is needed in the Task switcher which I haven't even used. That post was more of a philosophical response to folks that were going on and on about it on both sides. Everybody just needs to realize and believe they don't need to scratch something that doesn't itch anymore. And, that can be a difficult habit to break for power users....who influence...the average people...who weren't even told [by the influencer] they are getting something simpler and easier to use...and that is what they really do want. :) It may seem obvious that people should want something easier and simpler to use....but by that measure they should all already have a WP7.
It's awesome. Quick jump menu is a fantastic solution in such scenarios, but, I have an issue with quick jump menu icons. What's the point of wasting vertical space (and increasing scrolling size) by inserting quick jump menu icons in the list itself. Aesthetically also I don’t find it ok to have an odd looking same size alphabet icon in any list. It messes up with the continuity. If it is necessary to provide a separation where one alphabet series ends (I personally don’t find it necessary), a thin line separator goes well with the design. So how can you open quick jump menu. Every icon essentially opens the quick jump menu, my idea, have a single icon to open the quick jump menu, frozen at the top or on the side below search. Have a look at it here -
<iframe title ="Preview" scrolling="no" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" frameborder="0" style="width:320px;height:320px;padding:0;background-color:#fcfcfc;" src="skydrive.live.com/.../QuickJumpMenu.JPG
My apologies for pasting messed up link above. Please use this link to see suggestions (there are two) for a different kind of jump list - skydrive.live.com