standard 5 Years Later, 5 Things Windows Phone Still Doesn’t Get Right

Store UpdateAlmost 5 years ago Microsoft announced the original Windows Phone 7, the revolutionary new software that brought unique live tiles to solve everything in our lives, and keep everything a glance away. Windows Phone 7 was certainly mediocre in terms of features, but it had a solid UI going for it. After several major updates (Mango and Tango) that brought some glaring omissions such as Copy/Paste, and more importantly multitasking; Windows Phone was starting to shape up.

Then almost exactly two years later, in October of 2012 Microsoft started anew with Windows Phone 8, slowly more and more features were being added, OEMs and developers were given more access to APIs and things were looking up. With Portico (GDR1) users were finally able to keep the WiFi connected in the background, at this point Nokia jumped on board the software train and started rolling out their own software releases, starting with Lumia Amber. When Microsoft finally gave us Windows Phone 8.1 it seemed all our problems were solved, we finally had a notification center (which Microsoft were so adamant users didn’t need in the past), Cortana came out to play, and a slew of new hardware features were made available to OEMs.

In a few months time we’ll probably see a final build of Microsoft’s latest mobile OS, Windows Mobile 10; and yet the catch up game still continues; five years into the Windows Phone saga here are five things Windows Phone still sucks at.

1-Push Notifications:

There’s no beating around the bush for this one, Push notification support in Windows Phone has always sucked (and will most likely continue to). Since the early WP7 and WP8 days when you had to physically unlock your phone to check for updates (and in case you didn’t have a data plan, to connect to the WiFI), or in some cases even load up your app to check for notifications, I’ve found myself frustrated with the in-ability to stay connected without putting a conscious effort into staying updated. And even today, in 2015 I often find my apps failing to sound off notifications if neglected or forgotten about long enough; Windows Phone’s woes are most apparent when it comes to events that happen when your phone isn’t connected to the internet, even when connectivity is restored it often fails to stay updated. Although the push notification issue has certainly improved from the early Windows Phone days, it’s certainly still a problem.

2- Background Messaging and App Management:DSC07622

Once again, from the start another weakness of Widows Phone’s has always been with allowing apps to communicate from the background, although Windows Phone offers some amazing opportunities for 3rd party apps such as updating your lock-screen with weather information, or just updating your live tiles in general. However more often than not every few weeks or so these apps will forget to update, leaving me with a stagnant live tile or an outdated lock screen. Other apps can’t do much once you minimize them, downloads won’t run unless the app remains in the foreground, messages won’t send unless you stay in the app until they’re delivered and even uploading to native apps such as OneDrive require that you stay within the app. Which also leads us to our next point.

3- Multitasking:

DSC07619This is something that will probably never be fixed, since it’s the essence of how Windows Phone works (then again so was the “Metro” design for apps), but essence or not, it still sucks bad. Even on the latest of phones, or the newest of flagships you’re still bound to see the dreaded “resuming…” because Windows Phone’s management of background tasks is just horrendous.

4- Landscape Keyboards:

DSC07611Windows Phone’s Landscape keyboard support has always been the worst, the keyboard to screen size ratio has always been off, leaving users with only a single line of text in some scenarios, and something about the layout just makes it horribly uncomfortable to type in landscape mode. Not to mention that in the latest version, with Windows 10 the spacing of the keyboard just looks asymmetric enough to drive any sane person mad; the landscape keyboard is so bad I’ve grown used to keeping rotation lock on at all times to avoid having to accidentally deal with it, even for a moment. On the plus side however the new anywhere voice dictation in Windows 10 is amazing.

5- Apps:

Finally, the big one, we all knew it was coming, but it has to be said; along with every new software version of Windows Phone Microsoft added new developer tools and some fancy new revolutionary way to make building apps easier, and every year we said that was the feature that would make developers love the platform. It’s undeniable that there are some amazing Windows Phone apps out there, but if major platforms don’t love the OS what chance does it have? The official Instagram “beta” hasn’t been updated in over a year, the Microsoft built Facebook app (and Beta) haven’t had a significant feature change in months, Facebook messenger still can’t make phone calls while other OSes are making video calls, Snapchat still doesn’t exist, as with all of Google’s services; regardless of who’s at fault for the weak apps, it’s still Microsoft’s and Windows Phone’s problem.

But then again, maybe this will be Windows Phone’s year, right?

 

  • Surendra

    you forgot about bluetooth file sharing the night mare 😛

    • RDF2

      what problem? works great

      • Surendra Bonda

        just receive a document and try to find it on your phone. you cant find it anywhere.

  • carman58

    I would say you have two valid points, my Lumias work fine with push, Twitter, FB & mail alerts always happen quicker than Android, Multitasking/ background no worse than current Android , the landscape kd does waste space and less apps than Android & iOS

    • My issue isn’t so much as the actual multitasking technique, but the act that everything stops the second you leave an app, it’s very inefficient and time consuming to stay in apps to ensure everything goes through (such as sending a photo/video in a chat etc). Push notifications have always been spotty for me, since WP7 even, take Skype for example 50% of the time Skype calls don’t ring from the background for me.

      • carman58

        Can only comment on personal experience, have been using an LGG3 for two months and all my lumias chime or buzz before it does for mail, messages & social media ! The only reason KB & apps aren’t a personal issue for me is I rarely use portrait kb and can find all the apps I need on WP, can accept it’s an issue for others

      • Brian McCool

        Perhaps you could share what model phone(s) you’ve had these experiences on. I have had no complaints with my Lumia Icon or HTC One M8 in these areas, especially after Denim. I might see a delay in sending a photo in chat if I’m on a spotty connection, but with full bars or on WiFi, it’s darn near instant. I get FB notifications on my Icon well before I see them on my PC.

        • Honestly these Windows Phone complaints are all pretty much in almost every Lumia I’ve used (I’m a huge WP power user, and I’ve used basically every single Lumia there ever was), I’ currently using a special edition Lumia 830; after retiring my Lumia 930 due to physical damage.

          Facebook notifications in particular (messages I mean) won’t appear if I haven’t viewed previous notification, meaning if you sent me a message 5 hours ago that I never opened, I probably won’t get the new message. It’s not always the case, but it happens enough to be worth mentioning.

          • Chris Bordeman

            Perhaps there’s something wrong with your account or something. I’ve owned 2 Lumias, no issues like you’re describing.

      • Chris Bordeman

        Most apps DON’T stop when you stop the app. That’s just bollocks. WP only stops apps if you’re running low on memory, meaning you’re running too many apps or your phone is very low end with too little RAM.

  • zorkor

    These points are quite worrying but I am still thinking of giving WP a chance after years of using iPhone and some Androids in between.

    • Brian McCool

      I made the switch two years ago. I’ve seen my Lumia Icon perform next to a more “entry level” model phone and I could see why the author would make some of his points if he’s using something other than a flagship phone. I really liked my Icon after I got it a year ago, and felt like I got a brand new phone when I finally got Denim on it. While listening to an audio book last week, I took several pictures and neither app skipped a beat. I would recommend you go with the best hardware you can afford if/when you make the switch.

  • Chris

    1, 2, and 3 are all because of the device. Those features do not work very well on low end devices. I never had any issues with my Lumia 1520. The 635 sometimes messes up and the 520 is really bad.

    4: I remember having this same issue on Android phones (Droid X and Droid RAZR Maxx). It just depends on the size and aspect ratio of the phone.

    5: The developers are to blame here. Do not put it all on Microsoft. Instragram refuses to update their app, but there is a great third party one that is better then even the Android/iOS ones. The Facebook app does not need updated. It is awesome. Better then the spyware Android/iOS versions. Snapchat also refuses to make a Windows phone app. They even threaten legal action against a developer who made a better (and more secure) third party one. It was the same guy that made the Instragram one.

    • Christian Clements

      Google Play and Apple App Store checks all apps for spyware before upload. No spyware, malware, or adware (advertisments are a totally different thing than adware) is found. Apple Store and Google Play is very secure.

      No one has the right to make a third-party app without consent from legal owners.

  • walter

    u s*ck Ali..go and use ur sh*it-droid

  • counterblow

    my biggest problem with Windows Phone notifications and background tasks is that Microsoft is “making the choice” for me in the name of saving the battery. Limiting pushes to 30 mins apart and limiting the number of background tasks. LET ME DECIDE! If I want to run my battery down but get all my notifications LET ME. If an app is being naughty and running down the battery the users will punish it with bad reviews accordingly.

    • manicottiK

      Push notifications, including tile updates, are not limited to 30 minutes and never have been. However, many developers choose to update their tiles using periodic tasks that run on the phone every 30 minutes rather than having a server push the tile info to the phone. You can even combine the methods: I developed an app that gets tile count updates instantly from a companion server while using a 30-minute periodic task to update the tile text. (Obviously, if the tile needs local info like your current battery level or location, using a server isn’t going to be useful.)

  • hambubger

    couldn’t have said it better myself. switched to iphone in December after 4+ years of winphone and cant believe I lasted as long as I did.

  • The Magic Christian

    Windows Phone is just garbage. Just garbage.

    • Chris Bordeman

      Go away garbage.

  • WhatsApp send and receive messages in background… This is dev fault, like always.

  • Ropast

    Agree about Notifications. WP has always been pretty useless there.

    Without an LED, things like Cortana reminders pop up and disappear in an instant, if you miss them, you’ve no idea. This is especially bad if you dont have Glance, and the fact that Cortana reminders aren’t a Glance option anyway.

    I have a decade old feature-phone that handles Notifications better than WP. But at least it looks like there’s LED support in Mobile 10.

  • Chris Bordeman

    The reason apps stop pushing or updating in the background after a month or so is because that’s on purpose. You have to open an app once a month for it to continue to be allowed to use push notifications or run in the background. It’s much too short a time frame, and yes that needs to be increased to 90 days.

  • David Løkken

    I don’t think all of your points are valid. I use a 930 and have had it for almost a year, and i get push and notifications at an instant on the phone and sometimes even later on the computer. Multitasking also works like expected, would say allot better than ios and at least just as good as Android.
    Also the keyboard works just fine for me, but maybe the scaling is worse on phones with lower resolution displays?
    As for apps, i would say the only “mainstream” app that people will miss is Snapchat, and some apps that lack functionality that ios and android have, like instagram beta.

  • Christian Clements

    Microsoft also doesn’t check apps to see if they are the actual app that is put on the store. There are a bunch of scam and spam apps that say they are something they’re not. On the other hand Google and Apple always checks apps for honesty. This is a reason most developers don’t publish apps on the Microsoft Store.

    BTW you can multitask very well on Android and iOS you just have to watch your RAM on Android. That shouldn’t be a problem seeing that most Androids have 2 GB of RAM. @carman58