By Anu Passary email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Feb 09, 2013 08:31 AM EST
With several ecosystems like Android, iOS, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone battling it out for supremacy in the tech space, the competition seems to be heating up.
In a bid to stay in the race, Microsoft partnered with OEM's like Nokia, Samsung, HTC, and Huawei to launch Windows Phone 8-based smartphones. While the WP8-powered smartphones like the Lumia 920 have gained popularity with consumers, Microsoft's WP8 platform, while making great strides, could use some facelift.
No doubt the OS is better than its predecessor, especially with the new NT Kernel; however, there is room for improvement.
We take a look at five features we'd like the Redmond-based company to fix, which would help the Windows Phone 8 OS become a force to be reckoned with.
1. Improved Xbox Gaming Integration
Saying that the potential of Xbox gaming on Windows Phone has not been utilized from the outset is an understatement. The fabled integration of Xbox Live with the Kinect interface, which would turn your Windows Phone handset into a companion for the Kinect gaming system, never saw the light of day.
Additionally, synchronous game play with Xbox 360, which would basically involve playing a game on the Windows Phone device, pausing it and them resuming it on Xbox 360 (remember 'Sonic the Hedgehog: Episode II' was slated to be the first game to support this feature?) never happened either.
Even the Microsoft Studios-owned sci-fi-based Halo series game, which would have drawn more consumers to the platform is MIA. Well, at least for now.
The fact that Microsoft has been unable to leverage the Xbox 360 with Windows Phone is disappointing for fans to say the least. We can only hope that the Redmond-based company brings about better Xbox gaming integration to Windows Phone in 2013.
2. Notification Center
Other ecosystems like Android, iOS, and BlackBerry 10 all have notification centers. This feature enables users to check the status of the myriad apps and services in a single place. Windows Phone's Live Tiles (with the Me tile notification area) were supposed to serve the same purpose; however, this supposed notification center-like solution is not that simple to operate.
Be it using the Start Screen or the optional blinking LED, the interface needs to be more simplistic and user friendly. The introduction of features like using right-swipe to access the notification center would be more handy for users.
3. Tap 'X' to Shut Apps
Possibly one of the most basic and simple features a consumer would expect in a smartphone, but Microsoft is yet to do it. What are we talking about you wonder? Why, the 'X' tab to close apps. Currently, the card view for multiple apps does not have this option for Windows Phone.
Considering, this feature is in existence with multiple tabs in Internet Explorer, Microsoft needs to simply extend it to apps on Windows Phone. A simple option that would surely make many users happy.
4. Universal Search
Rumor had it that Windows Phone 7.5 Tango as well as Windows Phone 8 would be getting the universal search feature. However, this functionality was relegated to being just a rumor and didn't see the light of day.
The idea of a universal search function is by no means a radical one, but a useful feature which is available in competing operating systems. Imagine hitting Bing search to look for stuff on the Internet as well within your Windows Phone 8 device.
Windows 8, on the other hand, has a cool search feature which lets users search through various apps. Wonder when Microsoft will extend this to its mobile platform and make life a lot simpler for users.
Microsoft should take a leaf out of iOS and Android's books and have a solution for folders. With users downloading more and more apps, pins, and tiles to their devices, having a folder becomes necessary.
Having a folder option simplifies organizing multiple media apps, which a user may want to group together for quicker access. It also makes for a cleaner home screen. Currently, Windows 8 has the "grouping" ability and so why not Windows Phone?
Rumor has it that Microsoft will be revealing some new features at the MWC 2013 in Barcelona this month. We'll have to wait and see what the company will bring users' way.