If you have installed the Windows Phone 8.1 Developer Preview, you have likely been enjoying the use of Cortana, and possible the notification center at the top, along with other new features so that you can write new apps in time for the public release of the OS. Unfortunately, in giving new features, it seems that Microsoft also takes away, and in quite a few big ways. Here are the ones I have noticed so far. I have also made the titles of each section hyperlinks to User Voice feature requests so you can vote to restore these features taken away. Please do vote on as many as you can so that we can restore lost features to the OS, if you agree with the loss being a bad thing to you.
This was broken in the move to Windows Phone 8, but you can still go to Bing Scrapbook now to see what it was. It collated all your checkins, comments on those, and check-in pictures on a map, so you could see where you’ve been. It was a great little feature, and should absolutely be restored to Windows Phone 8.
I propose the following: Restore Bing Scrapbook, allow any app to plug-in to it (Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, FourSquare, etc.), and allow you to check off states, cities, and countries you’ve visited, and give you little badges for completing a country (visiting every state/province) or a certain number of cities, or iconic places in a country (Statue of Liberty, Brandenburg Gate, Notre Dame, etc), and more that I listed on the proposal.
In Windows Phone 8.1, the Camera Roll is now restricted to a very tiny, obscure button in the top left. You can’t really tell what that’s supposed to be, since there’s no longer any visual cue to the left.
In Windows Phone 7, we saw the edge of the last picture taken, which swiped left in such a way that we knew by taking a picture to swipe left to find that last picture.
Look at the left-hand edge. The last picture peeked out from the edge, so you knew, even if you missed the swipe left of the picture, that was where your last picture was.
In Windows Phone 8.1, we see this:
Look to the left of the camera. You can’t tell if/which of those 5 icons takes you back to your camera roll, or if you’re a new user, that you can even swipe from the left to get back to your camera roll.
I like the icons, but leave the last picture poking out from the left-hand edge so that we have a visual cue that’s where the last picture was. That also frees up one of five edge-icons for something else. The final change I would add to the new Camera interface, which for the most part I like, is to add small text subtitles for the five icons. They’re new, and I don’t know what they are. Little subtitles would be a big help for me, and no doubt millions of existing and new users.
This is beta software, and it says as much in there, but there are a few things I could say here to improve that could fall in the scope of this post. Cortana should be rolled out to all visually supported languages as quickly as possible, and in the short-term, to all English-speaking countries, then French/Spanish-speaking countries, then on from there. Siri is only available in 17 languages. Windows Phone supports about 60 languages as of 8.1. Imagine Cortana being available in all of them.
Bing Vision, Music Search, and Local Scout, as mentioned below, where taken out of Bing Search when Cortana replaced that. It would be a very simple change to put those icons back in, as those are all incredibly useful features that are now needlessly hidden.
I will post later in more detail which features I believe Cortana should add to become more useful for me, but the short version of that is: Cortana should return fact-based searches with answers, not web searches, including Wolfram Alpha information for math and other basic facts; it should track Tv/Movie purchases to give me picks or suggestions on what to watch; it should give movie times and offer to purchase tickets; it should control my media applications; it should replace the generated voice in HERE Drive. I’m sure others will come up with more, as will I later this week.
Currently, games are unceremoniously dumped in your apps list. There’s no reason for this, and you can’t change any setting to stop this. I and many others would like this corrected, or at the very least, an option to stop it.
The list of recent games is removed, as Paul Acevedo has noted on WP Central, and I agree with him that it should be restored.
In Internet Explorer, we get a new in-line video playing experience. The only problem here is, if you view the video, and maximize, the IE address bar is always over the video on sites other than Youtube. And you can still scroll up/down on the page. Really? Now, in Windows Phone 8.1, we have no ability to control the video at all because there are no play controls. In Youtube, you can watch videos in-line, which is nice, but the window keeps jerking the page left if you view it in Desktop mode. If you view it in Mobile, you still do not get any play controls, and still see the address bar over the video. What is this?
Secondly, if you try to open a link to a picture, IE will now take you back to the root of the website, instead of opening the picture. Why was this even changed? This looks like a bug more than anything.
Third, open Internet Explorer and highlight the address in the address bar. Notice anything missing? The copy circle icon is gone. You have to tap the URL again to get it to show. This is different from IE10 in Windows Phone 8. With this change, do you not think that technically challenged people, or people new to Windows Phone, will believe WP8.1 took away copy/paste, or made it more difficult? This is another unnecessary change. It doesn’t do this in Word on the phone, so why here?
Fourth – sharing websites. Everyone does this. Everyone shares links to Facebook. But the result in Windows Phone 8.1 is horrid looking. It’s a bare URL. And if you delete that URL and replace it with a comment, you get: your comment. Even Windows 8 lets us choose a picture from the article, write a comment, and in FB it displays the article title, the first few lines, and our comment as we expect to do from within the FB website itself. We could do that from our built-in Facebook integration in Windows Phone 7/8 (minus choosing the picture from the article). I would propose that this form of integration be restored as well. This just looks bad. How do you expect me to convince an Android or iPhone user to switch when this is how the phone works on something so basic as posting a website to Facebook?
Fifth – restore the old cursor. The new cursor does not move as responsively and it’s very very easily missed when looking on the screen. If you try it out, you’ll see what I mean. The old I-bar cursor was a huge improvement over this supposedly improved cursor.
In Windows Phone 7/8, there was a Me Tile where you could post updates to Facebook and Twitter at the same time, see your notifications from every social network in the next pivot. Twitter is still integrated, but Facebook now requires a separate app to comment/like what’s showing up on your wall.
My proposal is simple: Restore the notifications to show up in your notifications pivot. For those who like it, they can use it. For those who asked for a notification center (to gather all other missed notifications), they can keep that too. The Facebook integration should be restored also, so I never have to open the Facebook app to make any status updates, comments, post pictures, check-in, or like statuses.
In Windows Phone 7/8, the messaging hub was your one-place to conduct all your conversations, whether they be SMS, Messenger, Facebook, or anywhere else. In Windows Phone 8.1, Facebook messaging was removed in favor of a separate app. This flies in the face of everything that is at the core of what Windows Phone is intended to do – be less focused on apps, and more focused on experiences.
My request here is incredibly simple: restore the Facebook Messaging integration. Aside from that, make any other messaging app very easily able to plug in to the Messaging hub so I don’t ever have to open a separate app to message a friend on Facebook, Twitter, IM, Skype, or whatever else comes down the road. All the hub needs to do is reply to the friend (by default) in the same manner as his/her last message came to me.
In Windows Phone 8.0, Facebook and Twitter were completely integrated into the OS at a deep level. If you tapped the number box in the upper right corner, you were taken to an in-OS page showing the entire social update from your friends, and you could like or comment on that.
Windows Phone 8.1 removed that integration and made you now need a Facebook App to access the functionality that we lost. This is ridiculous, and removes a selling point of Windows Phone – that you don’t need apps to do things, the phone itself was focused on experiences and making things as simple as possible.
My proposal is simple: restore the Facebook / Twitter integration in the People Hub so you don’t ever have to install the Facebook application to comment/like your friends’ social updates, and you would even be able to like/comment on comments to the original comment, just like you can in Facebook today. This isn’t asking much.
My second noticed change was the removal of Recent from the People Hub. In Windows Phone 7/8 we had this:
In Windows Phone 7/8 we had Recent, which showed the last 8 people we contacted.
In Windows Phone 8, we did have this:
In Windows Phone 8, we gained groups/rooms, and Recent became a column, which is a bit more useful.
Now we have this:
Do you notice anything missing? Recent is gone here.
All I’m asking for is to have the Recent list restored. Is that difficult? No.
The second unwelcome change here is the removal of the Pictures pivot from your contacts and groups. In Windows Phone 7/8, you had a pivot to see your contact’s online pictures from Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere. In Windows Phone 8.1, this was removed, possibly in favor of a supposedly upgraded Facebook app experience. I do not want to enter an app for this. I just want to view them as I always did from within the OS. You have multiple GDR releases in a year to update this feature, so saying that removing it in favor of the app doesn’t hold up.
We used to have this pivot:
In Windows Phone 7/8, we could see pictures within the OS, without opening an app, in their own pivot. Integrated, simple.
The Phone app has lost some functionality, even though it gained the smart dialing. When you look at history, you see a collapsed list of contacts, so I would see “Amanda (3)” if she called thrice in one day, rather than 3 Amandas. I then have to tap+hold and click Details to see when she called. If I simply tap, I call her back.
My proposal here is easy: either have tap on a collapsed contact be to expand it out, or add an icon to expand it out. Then, add the option in the phone app so we can either show collapsed, or never combine multiple calls from one contact. Show duration of all calls in the phone history. Continue to show incoming, outgoing, and missed as 3 separate pivots. Add a setting so that Phone goes directly to the dialer instead of history. Older, less technically-savvy people don’t understand that it takes 2 taps to dial someone. I don’t think it needs to take 2 taps when it could take 1. And finally, Add T-9 dialing, which was present in Windows Mobile, so that if I tap 533, it shows all phone numbers containing that sequence, and all people’s names you could form out of that, which would include any Jeff’s on your phone.
The Photo Hub has been removed, and it’s now a simple photo viewer. In Windows Phone 8, you had a photo hub with a pane for your collection (camera roll, collection (including Twitter/Facebook albums, visible right there), dates, and people; next was a list of favorites, then a What’s New giving you your social feeds’ pictures, where you could comment/like from within the OS, and finally, a list of photo-editing apps available in your phone. The entire Hub had a background based on a recent picture, or you could set one manually.
The new Photo app is a very stark, simple pivot-based app that shows all, albums, favorites. You can tap on dates, to get monthly bar-based jump lists. It’s stark, not attractive at all, and bad for demonstrating the integration-friendliness of Windows Phone. go to albums, and you have now links to Facebook and OneDrive, rather than listing all your albums right there. The integration is gone. Now, it’s app-centric – just like iOS and Android. What differentiated Windows Phone was the integration, which is gone now.
My feature request is to put back the old Photo Hub, plain and simple. The only change from the old Photo Hub I would like is an additional item in the collection pane: Places. Since we have geotagged pictures, we should be able to view our pictures by place, so that if I went to Paris last month, and New York this month, and back home to Atlanta, I should be able to tap ‘Places’ and see: Paris, New York, and Atlanta, with little thumbnails showing that there are pictures in there. Tap on the name of the city or the mini-thumbnails (see Zune HD for the right size of these mini-thumbnails). Like the Photo Hub was intended to be, so should it be – the ONE place where all your pictures are located and accessible – Facebook, Camera Roll, OneDrive, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Tumblr, whatever. Not the ‘whack-a-mole’ one app for every single thing you want to do, like iOS and Android do now.
Notice here you saw all your pictures, favorites, what’s new from Facebook/Twitter, and your picture apps.
The original photo Hub, with social integration
Photo App in 8.1, compared to 8.0. No integration whatsoever.
On the left, that’s all you get. A sad removal of features. If you have an extra vote, this request is also for restoration of the panoramic interface. Why was this changed? I can’t see a reason to remove this great feature. It just makes the purpose of Windows Phone – integrated experiences, regardless of app – less prominent.
In Windows Phone 8, Bing Search had 3 buttons: Bing Vison to scan QR codes and translate, Bing Music Search to find music you are listening to, and Local Scout to find stuff nearby. In the move to Cortana, all but Bing Music have been removed. Also, the enhanced Bing search panorama was removed.
We had this:
Panoramic Experience we had in Windows Phone 8 which is gone in WP 8.1
Where is all this in Windows Phone 8.1? Even if you disable Cortana, this is gone. I propose to restore this, either by:
1. Restore search tap to search the app you’re in; make tap+hold Bing Search; make Start tap+hold Cortana
2. Restore search to Bing Search; make search tap+hold Cortana. In this version, the microphone icon in Bing Search brings up Cortana for dictation.
Another thing I’ve noticed: try rotating the screen on Bing search results. You can’t. It’s always portrait mode.
In Windows Phone, we used to have a start page like this:
The old start page gave a clear indication of updates/downloads. What do we have now? Just a little number.
This version of the store had a clear indication of which updates we had, and which downloads were being downloaded. For the new 8.1 store:
The 8.1 Store. No built-in indication other than a little tiny number of any updates, in the top right. I didn’t even notice it when I first opened it.
I had utterly no idea where the updates were, and no idea how to see which downloads were in progress. All we get now is a little tiny number in the top right of the screen that there are updates. Downloads is relegated to a menu option in the app bar. Why? It only makes it harder to get to updates and downloads. Just put the old home page back and leave it be.
Another bit here that was oddly done is the list of my apps. Open the store, then click the ellipsis at the bottom, and click My Apps. There is no sorting there that I can see. It’s a jumble of apps and there’s no way to get to a specific app without scrolling through over 600 apps. Why should I be forced to do that?
My proposal here is very simple: sort it alphabetically with jump list letters, and make it resortable by date installed and date purchased as options. Everyone’s happy.
I don’t have access to the Twitter Beta, since it was pulled, but almost every single time I post to any social network, I change my phone to landscape so I can bet the bigger on-screen keyboard. It’s just more comfortable to use. I’m sure I’m not alone here. But the current Twitter app doesn’t allow switching to landscape when tweeting, and it should.
A number of users have requested separate media and ringer volume controls, which was implemented in Windows Phone 8.1. Unfortunately, this implementation isn’t very intelligently thought out. If you’re listening to music and click volume up or down in any other app, it has shown ringer up/down instead of media up/down.
My request is simple: add a setting to restore the unified volume control if you want it. Some prefer that, others don’t.
I cannot overstate how much I despise the new X-Box Music App. How long must Windows Phone users put up with losing features with each OS update? Cloud Synch and Playlist Creation isn’t worth losing the Music+Video (or better, Zune) Hub. It simply isn’t.
I do not look at music, videos, and podcasts as 3 separate things. I think: Media. So I think: go to Zune (or Music+Videos).
We used to have this:
This is what we started with. Play button next to Music so we know ‘if I tap that button, it plays music,’ and it can play all my media in one place. Even our media apps were listed here.
Unified place for all media – music, videos, and podcasts. Artist Backgrounds when playing.
Now we have this:
Only Music in the music app. Why the focus on apps? Hubs make WP unique.
How can this be better to separate out my media into multiple apps? That’s ape-ing the iOS/Android model of apps, apps, apps.
My proposal is easy: restore the Music+Videos Hub, get rid of X-Box Music. Keep playlist creation. Restore FM Radio functionality, and rename ‘radio’ to Smart DJ. Add in the ability to view audiobooks just by tagging genre as ‘audiobook’, and podcasts simply by tagging the genre as ‘podcast’. Please, Microsoft, take a look at any Zune HD you might have lying around, and look at that interface. That was the best media interface you’ve had in the last 5 years. It had little touches like a very vibrant screensaver, for when playing music
In Music+Videos (Zune), I would rather see:
Music (with play icon to play a shuffled playlist of all music)
Podcasts (any mp3s tagged by genre ‘podcast’. You could also make playlists of podcasts if you wish)
Audiobooks (any mp3s tagged by genre ‘audiobook’ and organized by the subgenre tag herein, like ‘drama,’ ‘science fiction,’ ‘history,’ etc.)
In the next pivot right, show New Albums; then History; then What’s New? to show what friends are listening to, watching, or sharing on FB/TW; then Apps that are related to music and videos (Spotify, Netflix, etc.).
Currently, Now Playing is a pivot within the panorama. We lose the ability to swipe to change tracks, which every other platform has, and was a very delightful feature. My proposal here is simply to restore Now Playing to its own screen again so we can swipe to change tracks, acting just like in the Music+Videos hub.
I would like to see the Heart Icon restored so that it can be used in Picks and with Cortana integration as well, so that if you ‘heart’ a movie, Cortana will let you know if there’s a sequel coming to theaters, blu-ray, or X-Box Video; likewise, if you ‘heart’ a band, Cortana will notify you if there’s a new album by the band for you to download.
I have detailed numerous times in numerous places online my frustrations with X-Box Music and X-Box Video, and what I think should be done to fix that situation. Lastly, for those using Windows 7 still, I would ask that the Zune app be used for Phone Synch and backup, and app searching, and likewise in Windows 8. The standalone Windows Phone app is actually incredibly poor in comparison to a person used to using iTunes. How do you expect someone to move to Windows Phone when the experience has been broken more and more since 2010?
I also propose adding back Zune Social (or just Social), and put it on your Contact Cards to see what people are viewing/listening to, be they albums, artists, playlists, songs, TV, or movies. We should be able to post our Now Playing to FB like we could on Zune HD’s Facebook with the little Zune button as well, which shows album art, and links back to X-Box Music so friends can listen/buy/download that song. I should be able to, from now playing, just tap ‘share’ and share to FB/TW at the same time the album art, Song title, album title, and artist, so that if someone clicks on that from FB/TW, they go into X-Box Music to listen/buy that. Reasonable, right? Likewise, I should be able to tap+hold and share a playlist to FB, or an album, or an artist.
We also lost Wireless Synch from Zune, and never got that back. My music is on my computer, and Zune played seldom known tracks like Innocent, by Bond, or Girl From Ipanema Goes to Greenland (Extended Mix) by the B-52’s just fine. X-Box Music refuses to synchronize those, and when it tried to play them on the computer, it played the original track on the original album for my remixes. Zune didn’t do that. XBM also takes a really long time to resume and redisplay after using Jumplists. Zune didn’t do that. XBM should simply upload unmatched albums to OneDrive for cloud collections, at no hit to my storage space.
Finally, many people would like a graphic equalizer. My old Creative Zen 32GB from 2007/8 had this even. It is in there, if you know where to look: Settings > Audio > Equalizer. Why not add this in X-Box Music as a button on the App Bar in Now Playing?
Similarly to X-Box Music, the best thing is to scrap XBV and move back to Zune/Music+Videos hub. XBV is nice that it shows me past purchased videos for streaming, but the app is just bare, stripped down, and boring. That’s not why I bought into Windows Phone.
My proposal, like for X-Box Music, is to scrap the separate app, and fold it back into the Music+Videos Hub. In the category ‘Store’ that I proposed, have pivots for TV, Movies, Podcasts, Audiobooks ONLY. There you can purchase any new movies/TV shows.
I’ve cataloged my frustrations with XBM/XBV/Windows Phone Synch, and what I think should be done to fix it.
Windows Phone is also about new features in 8.1, and some seem partially implemented, unfortunately.
The Notification Center has no way to dismiss notifications individually. You can only dismiss an entire group at once. This should certainly be added in.
Games now appear in your app list, cluttering it up. At the very least, give us the option either to show games in the app list, or to show only in the Games App. I personally don’t want several dozen games showing in my app list.
A great new feature is the graphic equalizer, as Paul Thurrott mentions in his post. I would propose adding an equalizer button in X-Box Music at the bottom of Now Playing, so you can set it easily and get back to your music in 1 press of the back button.
There is promised Cortana integration coming soon for XBM/XBV, but I had a few ideas for other areas of integration:
Have you found any new features you believe are half-implemented? Or have some features you wish hadn’t been removed?
Check out these three users’ User Voice suggestions (first, second, third) and vote for as many as you believe should be implemented. Only by voting them up will Microsoft listen.