With the official release of Windows 10 Mobile, after many months of anticipation and speculation it’s finally here. After upgrading to build 10.0.10586.164 on my Lumia 930 (UK CV) using the Upgrade Advisor here are my thoughts on Windows 10 Mobile. Focusing on the elements I really liked (“The Beauty”) and the points that drove me mad (“The Beast”). Also throwing in some User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) design ideas on what I think would be nice if Microsoft paid attention to.
I’ve been a huge fan of Windows Mobile or as it previously was called Windows Phone and have seen it evolve over the years. The distinctive UI and UX is what attracted me to the platform initially , so let’s get started on discussing the Windows 10 Mobile after a couple of weeks use as my daily driver mobile, let’s see if Microsoft has delivered?
The Beauty (The good stuff I liked)
- Faster App Launching – feels like the apps launch faster or at least perceived to load faster with the new launch animation.
- Greatly improved core Office apps – so much more functionality from Windows Phone 8.1 apps, doing productive Word documents and Office tasks on the go are vastly improved.
- Better Start Screen – live tiles sit more tightly together, making better use of screen estate.
- Better Calendar – finally a better calendar, with usable views and agenda.
- Improved Store – complete overhaul of the Store, makes discovering apps more efficient. Also a well-thought out app details page too.
- App launching animation transitions – sleek animation gives a nice feel when navigating through the phone.
- Improved Notifications and Action Center – nice consistent UI/UX from Windows 10 PC and individual dismissible notifications.
The Beast (The bad stuff that drove me mad)
- Random reboots and freezes – dissipate a load of bug fixes and patches, Windows 10 Mobile doesn’t seem to be nowhere near as stable as Windows Phone 8.1. Phone will often freeze and reboot randomly even when it’s idle.
- Quick Reply Message – when your phone is locked you are still able to reply to a message and send it without no prompt for PIN. This breaches privacy allowing anyone to reply and send a message even when you phone is locked.
- Poor Battery life – feels like somewhat Windows 10 Mobile is more taxing on the battery life, turning off the majority of the background tasks did help.
- Disappearing keyboard – the keyboard sometimes appears to be blank when using the quick reply functionality on Messages within the Action Center.
- Duplicate Background Tasks – multiple same background tasks appear for the same app, some icons for apps appear to be missing.
- Core apps still buggy and “janky” animation – drops in animation framerates and animation stutter needs addressing. Opening menus and app bars cause the animation to struggle. Outlook and Calendar apps seem to force close at times for no apparent reason.
- Bad Start Screen scrolling performance – scrolling up and down on the homepage, you’ll notice live tiles failing to render in time, often see a blank square then a second or two later the tile will appear.
- Very inconsistent UI/UX – different fonts and headings in every app. Nothing feels like it share existing UI. Settings pages in each core apps just don’t look consistent.
- Very inconsistent load animation – some screens slide up and fade in and some scale into view, Microsoft just stick to one page transition.
- Calendar event view – viewing a calendar event, there is UI that’s not even consistent with anything seen elsewhere. Feels like the team have forgotten to redesign this page.
- Calendar weather deep linking – you would expect the weather icon, will link to the Weather app but it just opens a Bing URL. A missed opportunity to push users to a richer app-based experience.
- Mix of Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows Mobile 10 – Microsoft really need to polish up to get rid of the inconsistent font sizes and “Metro UI” designs (for example “Ringer + Notifications, why not “Ringer & Notifications” and replace old circular app bar icons).
- Inconsistent scroll bars – scroll bars across Windows 10 Mobile need addressing, Outlook, Office app and Settings pages all use varying thicknesses of scroll bar UI.
- Copy and paste still broken – copying from Edge doesn’t always allow you to paste into another app. Copy and paste has a mind of its own at times. When selecting a chunk of text, users have to long press to see the copy commands, inconsistent to how Office apps works. Just make up your mind Microsoft and stick to it.
- Excessive Privacy permissions on by default – I found this frustrating when upgrading to Windows 10 Mobile, it appears that Microsoft wants all of its apps to have access to your privacy permissions such as Location, Microphone and Contacts to name a few. Why couldn’t Microsoft have just the bare minimum access to personal information to allow core apps to function and then ask your permission per app basis? I’m pretty sure apps were giving themselves access to my personal data that I have turned off. Noticed the Xbox app after an update silently turned itself on to access my Contacts even though I turned it off previously as I don’t have an Xbox.
- Volume controls behaviour – annoying when I want to change the volume of an app, it sometimes displays the “Ringer + Notifications” slider instead. If I’m in an app I would expect to change “Media + Apps” slider automatically.
- Multitasking weirdness – Think Microsoft should get rid of the “Start” card in Multitasking view, wouldn’t it be easier if I just pressed the Windows button to get back to my Start Screen. Also when Multitasking in landscape orientation the Start card isn’t even present, only in Portrait orientation. I’d also expect current open app to be in the first card and not appended to the end of the cards list. Don’t think Microsoft have addressed this since Multitasking was introduced.
- Message Live Tile flickering – when refreshing, resizing or updating the tile, the tile flickers during rendering. Also clearing down tile counts are very delayed, when I read a text message and then go back to the Start Screen, the count on the tile is still there, then a few seconds later the tile clears down.
- Outlook composing new message – spacing around the screen is inconsistent with any other screen in the apps and why not give the option to compose an email in the dark theme view?
- Outlook Live Tile counter misaligned – the counter is misaligned detracts from the polished look and feel, easy fix come on Microsoft.
- Slow Outlook Live Tile notification – notifications and tile flipping seems to be very slow in Outlook.
- Edge browser tabs reload as blank – some tabs usually reload as blank pages and some heavyweight pages just force close the tab entirely.
- Missing basic Edge features – can’t even set a Start-up page or have a Home button.
- Contact Live Tiles don’t show notifications – when a pinned contact tile sends you a message, you don’t get notified anymore on the person’s live tile. This was a very nice feature from Windows Phone, sadly not in Windows 10 anymore, used to save me time going into messages to quickly read a pinned contact’s message.
- No linking to URLs in Bing search snippet – you would expect to navigate through to the URL from the Bing search snippet but sadly no.
- Lack-lustre Bing Search – I guess Microsoft are trying to push the Cortana experience but for those who aren’t using Cortana are greeted with an underwhelming Search screen, the days are gone of a full screen Bing Image, search now pushes you into a web view and not even a dark theme experience. Really liked the Windows Phone 8.1 search than this. Even the Multitasking search card shows “Cortana” even when I’m not using Cortana.
- Camera performance – Lumia Camera was so much better, low light and general point and shoot results disappoint with the new Camera app, I’m sure future firmware and app updates will address these issues.
Suggestions to make Windows 10 Mobile Awesome
- Store Suggestions in Apps List – think Microsoft missed the trick when searching within the Apps List, if you don’t have the App installed, you can directly install the App without going into the Store suggest.
- Camera launcher from lock screen – a hidden but powerful gesture to launch the camera from the lock screen. How about swiping from the left edge across to reveal the camera UI.
- Solid colours for background – would be nice to have a background solid colour picker like on Windows 10 PC.
- In-depth searching within Settings – allow deeper searching of a specific setting, for example searching for “dark theme” will take you into “Colours” sub section of Personalisation. I often can’t remember what parent setting section searches fall under but this will allow a more flexible search method.
Although not an exhaustive list of feedback for those wanting to upgrade existing devices, the experience was bearable, hope prompt updates will solve issues. I hope I’ve highlighted glaring UI/UX issues and bugs with this Windows 10 Mobile build. One of the biggest criticisms I would say is when using Windows 10 Mobile was the apparent lack of consistency to UI/UX between core apps, lack of attention to small but crucial details takes away from the potential of Windows 10 Mobile. I hope Microsoft can address these issues with greater Quality Assurance before releasing the product.
Seeing how “hyper-consistent” Windows Phone 8.1 was, it almost felt like the UI/UX was built by a robot, felt very solid, Windows 10 Mobile didn’t give me that same feeling, zipping through screens and menus just jarred me with inconsistencies and lack of attention to detail.
Microsoft should work on building and refining the product, with regular updates, delivering some competing devices and top-requested consumer apps (like Snapchat, YouTube and the likes, otherwise its inconsistencies and confused-identity will be its biggest hindrance.