Windows Phone has a great premise -- a set of beautiful, minimalist tiles take the place of a million apps. It's brilliant in its simplicity. But it needs to get its shit together. Today, we could get a first look at Windows Phone version 8. Here's what it needs to deliver.
1. Social skills
Windows Phone's People tile is one of its best draws -- at times it actually makes you forget how mediocre the third-party apps for Twitter and Facebook are. Your contacts and social media pals are all whirled into one hub, giving you a stream of updates, favourite people to check in on, and a quick way of chiming in. But it's severely lacking. You can't attach photos to a tweet, hashtags aren't clickable, there's no way to view your Facebook Timeline (or someone else's), and there's no way to view a full Twitter conversation. Foursquare is missing entirely. For this stuff, you'll have to fire up the dedicated apps for each service, which defeats the underlying point of Windows Phone. Microsoft needs to pack social features as tightly as it possibly can.
2. Helpful notifications
Windows Phone's notifications suck. From the lock screen, you can see if you've received emails, but it'll take several swipes to see who they're even from. Swiping down from the top only shows you your clock and battery life. Where's the notifications centre? Oh right! There isn't one.
3. Media makeover
Windows Phone's music player is a hand-grenade-rolled-into-Sephora mess, crowded among too many other offerings in the "Music + Videos" tile. Music shouldn't be hub-ified. We want instant gratification when it comes to this stuff, not a broad menu of podcasts, movies, apps and playlists. Really, just rip off the iOS music app -- it's more or less perfect.
4. Emails that load images
Every single time you receive an email with inline graphics, you have to tap to load them. Even if it's from your best friend from whom you've received tens of thousands of emails and has earned your email trust.
5. Faster Internet Explorer
It's too slow right now. Apollo needs to light some Sun God fire under IE's arse, because it's considerably lagging behind Android and iOS mobile browsing. So, then, what's the point of the 4G speed?
6. Brightness adjustment
There are three settings for Windows Phone screen brightness: low, medium and high. Or you can let it auto-adjust, based on who knows what. Give us a slider. This is standard stuff, and its absence will slowly drive you crazy.
7. Play nice with others
Add AIM and GChat to your IM offerings -- show Apple you're the bigger phone-man. Nobody is going to use the Windows Live substitutes, and Microsoft needs to accept that. Make maps rich as hell with Yelp, Foursquare, MenuPages and OpenTable data. Bring it all together. Use the people who do it best.
8. Public transport
Apple is taking a beating on this one -- the lack of public transport guidance in iOS 6 Maps is awful. Give us what Apple won't. Or maybe those rumours about Nokia's stellar map apps replacing Microsoft's own in Windows Phone 8. That'd be nice.
9. Camera control
We need a better camera app. Currently, when you touch to focus, the camera automatically takes a picture. It's straight-up annoying. You need to be able to focus on something and then decide to take a picture.
Please do these things, Microsoft. As we've said so many times before, we want Windows Phone to be great. This is tough love.