In some ways, Windows Mobile (or simply WinMo) is a great mobile OS, and other ways, it’s not. So I’m really hoping that WinMo 7 will fix the problems plagued by the other versions of WinMo, and will be quite a top-notch mobile OS. One thing I’ve noticed is that WinMo is more targeted towards business users, rather than average consumers. If Microsoft wants to expand towards everybody, they have to make it that way.
So I dug around, and here’s what I’ve come up with:
- New OS architecture – Out with the old, and in with the new. Many people think that the WinMo OS should just be redone. I’d have to agree. I’m looking for a more lightweight OS, that works smoothly, and can smartly address issues coming its way. One that syncs well with devices, one that can work just like a computer in a small device. Just revamp the whole architecture and make it new again. Forget supporting older software, and make the new OS shine.
- Amp up the hardware requirements – What I’ve noticed with most WinMo problems that users face, is that their phone has really low specs. Low specs = Bad experience. So tell those phone manufacturers to amp up those specs, or forget it. Make features like Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, A-GPS, VGA or higher, and the right ports mandatory. Please don’t support QVGA anymore, and encourage these guys to make bigger screen phones. The more I can see, the better.
- Touch friendly – Unless you have a good custom interface for WinMo, using your fingers can be kinda hard. There’s a stylus, but most people frown on that for some reason. Icons need to be bigger and sharper to work with, text needs to be smoother and easier to manipulate, as well as buttons. A nice virtual keyboard, multi-touch support, and all the works would make it keen.
- New user interface – The UI definitely needs reworking. Consider killing extending menus, itsy-bitsy buttons and icons, and all the other mobile UI mistake of the past. Again, encourage manufactuers to do bigger screens, to make it easier to configure the UI better. 3 inches or higher. Make more prettier icons (making all circular icons is original and touch-friendly) that feel contemporary, better default system-wide font, smooth graphics and transitions, fluid interfacing, and all those things that a sleek UI has. Try to be original, and not copy the iPhone UI.
- Better multimedia apps – WMP 10 (with the WMP 11 skin) isn’t that fun to use. I’m hoping for a better WMP where it’s nicer to browse music, videos, photos, podcasts, and even FM radio with a gorgeous look and smooth transitions (semi-Zune interface?). Make it easier to manipulate the data, and buy content (from Zune Marketplace?) on the go. There also needs to be more codec/format support, RSS reader, recording software, games, and all those goodies. You might also get the phone makers to include a good number of GB storage. No less than 4 GB.
- Improved mobile IE – Forget PIE, and focus on a new IE browser for WinMo 7. Some of my ideas are typical : Better standards, tabbed browsing, dynamic zooming, better look, easier to access bookmarks, and all that of course. On the UI side, I’m thinking that it’s best to combine a search box and address box all into one. You can search by just typing the regular keywords, and you can still put URL’s to go to a specific site. Important buttons (Faves, RSS, Home, Options…) appear right underneath it, and there could be a tabbed IE windows collection on the side of the screen, that you just extend to access. Internet is VERY important on mobile phones these days, and PIE doesn’t cut it.
- Better SDK – Of course, after a better UI, you need a better SDK that can really plug-in to the OS. If the WinMo UI is really great, than the way the buttons and the interface on applications should be great if not better. I notice that many applications for the iPhone really work smoothly, and have an interface that reflects how the iPhone works. Like they were made for each other. So if the SDK is really flexible and all, and makes it super easy to configure things the way we want it, that’d be awesome.
- Apps Store – A central store where all WinMo users can easily find, discover, and download applications would be ideal for the OS. Most WinMo users currently have to hunt and find apps on many different sites, and then download it. Sometimes, they’re not really good. The closest thing Microsoft has is Windows Mobile Catalog. But the store is rather weak; you can’t publish applications, little "official" apps from major web 2.0 sites, and many come with a price. A good application store that offers the latest and the greatest apps from developers that is easy to use and find, with reviews/ratings/picture/demos and all the goods right on the device would be sweet.
- GPS application – If you make GPS mandatory on all WinMo 7 devices, then a proper GPS application would be great. It could use Live Maps/VE and make it super simple to get quick directions, find local stuff, and pan around on the mobile device.
- New home screen – The current home screen is ok, in WinMo 6.1, but it wouldn’t hurt to make a new one, right? I’m thinking the top portion of the screen could be reserved for displaying current system settings (battery icon, Bluetooth, WiFi, application title, all that…) and underneath that could be the Communication Bar. Displaying Phone, IM/Text, E-mail, Outlook (alerts!) icons, with any new/missed messages showing up as a number next to the icon, depending how many there are for each. Under that, there could be circular icons representing the applications you can access the most. Under that is another bar that could feature upcoming appointments, the weather, and settings. It’d be great if the weather could have a cool graphical display, like the HTC Diamond, where if it’s a rainy day, then a visual graphic appears and makes rain drops appear in the phone and splashing on the screen. Or if it’s sunny, there’s a graphical sun with shining rays. Little graphical touches like that make the user experience wonderful. I also hope it’s easy to customize the home screen with background pictures, themes, color, fonts, etc.
- Voice recognition – Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could use just your voice to control your phone? I hope that WinMo 7 allows full speech recognition that could easily control your phone and access everything well. Include Voice Command for free. Voice input, touch input, and even tactile input (keyboard) could all be supported at the same time, or you could choose with types of input to run.
- Better contacts system – It should be easier to get your Windows contacts (from Outlook, Windows Mail, etc.) onto your phone. As well, I hope it’s much easier to add a simple display picture for a non-Windows Live contact, and contacting them should be a snap. The profile information should be easier to read, and include their social networking profile links. And finding contacts based on any criteria (name, birthday, work, etc.) could also be better.
- Better desktop software – WinMo should be able to sync well with the desktop. Windows Mobile Device Center is fine, and much better than ActiveSync, but it doesn’t do everything. I’m hoping that WinMo 7 could synchronize within WMP to sync music, video, podcasts, RSS feeds, Favorites, PIM info, favorites and all that stuff there. That of course means modifications for WMP, but I could see it working. You can easily add music, videos, ringtones, and all that straight from one of the online stores WMP supports. I would love it to work the same way the Zune syncs with the Zune software, and you can just drag and drop files to the device to sync. Also, it should integrate better with Windows, and get PIM information from not just Outlook, but Windows and Windows Live programs like Calendar, Mail, and Contacts. As well as pull up real-time stats from the phone like battery, phone calls, text messages, what’s on and what’s not, specs, and everything. Connecting with Bluetooth/WiFi/USB would be ideal. And of course, upload pictures or any other data from the device. All in a slick desktop application.
- Live Mesh client – I also hope to see a great Live Mesh client that will easily and seamlessly synchronize your data wherever you go. Pretty, fast and well.
- Windows Live integration – Mail, Calendar, Contacts, Messenger, and all should work seamlessly on the device, and not just in the web browser. And of course, Live Mesh will help with that.
- Drop the screen buttons, and do a scroll wheel/touchpad – You know those buttons at the bottom of the screen, on a typical WinMo device? Those need to go. With a new UI, I hope not to see that ugly 2-pane menu system at the bottom of the screen. It shows only so little, and drop-down menus on a phone are dumb. So that old-style interface needs to die, as well as the assortment of buttons appearing right under the screen. Instead, I think a mini touchpad/scroll wheel combination would be ideal. If you want to move around the UI without a touchscreen, you can circle around the scroll wheel (or scroll on the touchpad) and every function/input on the screen that can be interacted with, will have a glow around the icon/box. Press the center button to launch. Simple, and easy. Hold down the center button to return to your home screen. Good idea, eh? Kind of like the Zune’s squircle, but with an optional backlit scroll wheel around the edges. Actually, a circle shape makes more sense than a squircle, since our fingers our more naturally adept at making circular motions, than rounded square motions. And another thing, I realize this is a hardware capability, so maybe Microsoft could suggest this to their partners. You know, instead of letting your partners do dumb things.
So that’s basically all I can think of generally. I’m more of an experience guy, than a technical guy so I’m not going to go into every detail of what I want in Windows Mobile 7. But generally, I want Windows Mobile 7 to start focusing more on the consumer side, than the business side. Which means WinMo really needs to work on the multimedia and internet offerings. Also to push the standard on devices, and not just mediocre ones anymore.
So I drew up some crazy sketches that I could imagine. They’re kinda blurry, since my 5MP camera can’t take high close-range shots. These are my sketches of my dream touch phone. With a little Windows flair. I tried to combine Zune 2.0 controls with the phone buttons at the bottom. And yes, it is a bit iPhonish, but if you really want a good touch device, that is the best candybar format (big buttons/icons, big screen, very finger-friendly) it’s was bound to look like this anyway. Hope you like them :