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Quality Assurance Analyst, Windows Phone developer and father. Contributing author for Windows Phone 8 in Action from Manning Publications. Adam is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 15 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Windows Phone: Features Missing or Not Missing? You be the Judge

07.11.2012
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Introduction from the Curator:  Recently, an anonymous poster opined that Windows Phone isn't a good platform.  He gave 121 reasons why, and they are listed below.  Under the anonymous poster's reasons and in bold are the rebuts of Adam Benoit who is a new DZone MVB and a self-taught Windows Phone developer.  After the 121 reasons/rebuts, Adam furthers his reasoning which explains quite a bit of the questions that have surrounded Microsoft since its release of WP7.  Enjoy!



OS LIMITATIONS


1. No true multitasking for 3rd party apps – they're frozen in the background.
Better multitasking coming in WP8
2. No Divx/Xvid video codec support. Zune will convert with loss of quality.
True. But you are watching it on a mobile device. If you are worried about quality, re-encode it as a high quality WMA.
3. No mass storage mode.
True. It is annoying. I want to see my music available (maybe readonly) when I plug my phone into the USB on my car deck. Other than that, my iPod did this, I lived with it.
4. No micro-SD card support.
WP8
5. Only support up to 16GB storage .
WP8
6. No filemanager. Directory system is totally opaque.
True. Even as a developer and heavy user, I have never needed to see the folder structure.
7. Need Zune to transfer files. Zune will only transfer photos, videos & music. All other files need to email/upload to yourself.
And you need iTunes for apple, what's your point?
8. Your contact details are automatically uploaded to cloud service whether you like it or not.
9. Limited to 800×480 resolution.
WP8
10. Voice search is hardwired to Bing.
True. Shound like both Google and Apples do as well though.
11. Cannot use any MP3 file as ringtone except those with strict constraints.
True. But most ringtones I use I make myself so I can make them as required.
12. Cannot set static IP address so no connection to ad-hoc networks.
Not sure.
13. No VPN support for this âoecorporate enterpriseâ phone.
True. I believe current hardware lasck power anyways. Look for it in WP8 especially with the push into the enterprise market.
14. Cannot sync directly with Outlook without syncing to Cloud
Cloud? I pointed mine at the web interface URL and it seems to work ok. Ive never seen any cloud references.
15. Totally closed OS, cannot sideload apps outside MS Marketplace.
Can't onn iOS either. Pay for an App Hub account and you can. Besides, there are very few legit XAP files available to download. I have found mo own apps on a pirate site. No sympathy here.
16. System font size cannot be changed.
That whould ruin the Metro design feel.
17. Images and photos cannot be renamed in the phone.
True. Not really a problem though.
18. Windows Live ID account cannot change country once set.
Limitation of Live, not WP7
19. No centralized notification page.
True. Never really needed one though.
20. Alarm clock cannot work when phone is turned off. All Nokia Symbian and Meego phones can do this.
True, but no other ones can either.
21. The idle screen is completely blank and cannot display time or notifications.
Display eats battery. Im glad its blank.
22. Only photos allowed as email attachments, documents not allowed.
Its a phone, not a computer.
23. No way to stream audio to the majority of car audio systems as the most common Bluetooth rSAP profile is not implemented.
Watch for this in WP8
24. Cannot stream audio from video playback to Bluetooth devices as A2DP profile is not implemented.
Watch for this in WP8
25. No support for full on-device encryption required for secure applications like mobile banking and online payment.
Watch for this in WP8
26. Cannot use Bluetooth keyboard (no HID profile)
Watch for this in WP8
27. Cannot silence ringtone or alarm by flipping the phone.
The phone has volume buttons on the side. Press it. Takes less effort than flipping.
28. Very limited customization option.
My phone has 22 different looks. I dont feel limited.
29. Cannot be upgraded to WP8 (Apollo)
Hardware is the reason.

USABILITY ISSUES


30. No always visible status bar for battery life, signal strength, carrier ID, 2G/3G wi-fi, Bluetooth on.
Some apps hide it, even built in ones. can be pulled down on demand on most screens.
31. Taskmanager has no option to shut down apps you donâ(TM)t want running in the background.
I can turn off background tasks.
32. Search and Back button cannot be de-activated in apps or games and easily touched by accident which interrupt your user experience.
True, and very annoying.
33. Lockscreen need to be activated to show missed call/sms notification.
Not true. Pin the Phone and Messaging tiles to your home screen.
34. No way to close an app except pressing back button all the way to the first screen.
True. I prefer this. And it is not required to go all the way back, just one item prior to the one you want closed.
35. Tiny fonts in messages is very hard to read for those over 45.
True in that it is small, but readable.
36. Cannot create and save playlists on the phone.
True.
37. Playlist can only be edited when you are playing it.
Not sure, don't use playlists.
38. Cannot search your music collection on the phone, only in the Marketplace.
True
39. Cannot close music player, can only pause. Music player on lockscreen will stay until you reboot. Be careful not to touch it in a meeting.
True.
40. No draggable progress bar for current track playing and no indication which track in an album is currently playing
Tap and hold the next track button, this will fast forward.
41. Cannot lock screen orientation.
iOS took years to add this.
42. Online and phone contacts are mixed together with no ability to filter.
You can restrict which accounts are shown in Contacts.
43. Search button in dialer does not search contacts for dialing, but search call history.
True
44. Cannot save draft sms messages.
True
45. Call history only show phone number type. If a contact has multiple phone nos. for a type the number used is unknown.
True. Never bothered me. I have contacts with 5+ numbers.
46. Cannot recognize phone numbers in sms or email to save or use as calling number.
SMS does. Havnt checked email.
47. Text messages can only be deleted one by one or the whole thread.
Nope, I can delete all for a contact.
48. Cannot select multiple pictures for deleting, sending or uploading. They must be done one at a time.
Albums can be deleted. Others are true.
49. No way to see photo details – dimension, date/time taken, file size, etc
True. But I can on my computer, where it counts.
50. Apps are listed alphabetically with no way to group by category. Can be hard to find if you doesn't remember the name.
True. Look for this in WP8
51. Calendar scheduler has no weekly view and monthly view is non-zoomable.
True
52. No peak time/off-peak time scheduling for email downloads to prevent unnecessary email downloads at overnight.
True. But at night i am on WIFI so it doesn't matter to me.
53. If both wi-fi and data connection are available which one it chooses to use is unpredictable. User experiences doesn't agree with Microsoft that it typically choose wi-fi over 3G.
I never experenced this. At home, it seems to use my WIFI. My carrier shows almost 0 data usage at night.


FEATURE LIMITATIONS


54. No live wallpaper, no widgets, no themes
Apps pinned to home screen can display wiget type info. 22 themes on my phone. Only lock screen uses wallpaper. I wouldnt want
55. No haptic feedback for keyboard.
True. I still prefer the physical keybard on my old LG WP7 device.
56. No Swype.
Appears that iOS doesnt either.
57. No flashplayer support.
Flash built in to browser in WP8 (If i remember correctly)
58. No support for Java apps.
This isn't an Android device. iOS doesn't either.
59. No call recording or app to do it.
True. I've needed this myself.
60. No call blocking or app to do it.
True. Never needed it. I simply ignore calls I dont want.
61. No screenshots or app to do it.
True.
62. No auto wallpaper changer and no app to do it.
Sounds like a personal preference.
63. Totally locked down os means apps which interact directly with hardware not allowed. This excludes a whole range of useful apps
WP8
64. No equalizer for Zune music player.
True
65. No data traffic counter and no app to do it.
WP7.8 and WP8 (For Nokia for sure, likely others)
66. IE browser has no text reflow, no download capability and no offline reading.
It is a mobile browser after all.
67. No 3rd party browsers allowed except those based on IE.
My experence with IE on WP7 is positive. Considering I refuse to use it elsewhere, this is good.
68. Volume up/down buttons cannot be used to zoom in camera (sign of an immature os)
They are volume buttons after all, not zoom buttons.
69. Cannot open zip or rar files received as email attachment.
True.
70. Cannot send or receive video by MMS.
You sure? I have.
71. Office Mobile has much less features than 3rd party Office editors like SmartOffice, QuickOffice and Polaris. Shame on you, Microsoft!
Works well enough for me. Again, it is the MOBILE version!
72. No native Google maps and Bing maps is useless for most countries outside U.S.
Works well for me in Canada
73. Email time stamp does not show the year.
True.
74. Wide difference in apps availability in different markets and users locked to one market.
Almost every app I use is available world wide. Maybe the complaint it the extra step when you hit the incorrect marketplase and need to jump to your own local one?
75. Not all Bing features available outside U.S. especially Local Scout
Works in Canada


DUMB AND DUMBER


76. One volume control for all functions including media playback, ringtones, alarms, notifications.
True, and annoying.
77. Wi-fi disconnects when screen sleeps. If 3G is available background updates will use 3G and use up your data plan.
Never noticed.
78. If you receive a text message when talking on the phone an audio alert will blast your ear at the full volume set. All other phones will give a soft beep.
Never really bothered me.
79. Can only enter one mobile phone no. for each contact. Mobile nos. entered in other fields will not accept sms.
I span contact across several accounts and can add multiple mobile numbers.
80. Cannot send/receive MMS without enabling 3G data connection. MMS does not use 3G data.
Never sent one.
81. Phone cannot be charged when off.
Charging an off phone does turn it on.
82. Need to be plugged in to wall charger to sync wirelessly (a funny definition of wireless).
I Don't use wireless sync. Never noticed.
83. Oversized fonts for headings waste screen space and result in low information density
True for panarama based apps. Not so true for Pivot based ones.
84. Phone will wake up and display sms content on lockscreen when locked a privacy violation.
I'm ok with this.
85. Phone can be rebooted without entering security code.
So?


FEATURES EVEN DUMB PHONES HAVE BUT WP7.5 DOESN'T


86. No bluetooth file transfer.
WP8 maybe
87. Cannot handle USSD codes necessary for prepaid users to obtain services.
When low costTango phones are available this should be fixed if demanded by carries of prepaid services.
88. Cannot filter call history into Missed Calls, Received Calls, Dialled Calls, Recent Calls, etc
Never bothered me.
89. No way to backup or export call history
Never bothered me. My phone bill show me this.
90. Cannot show call duration in call history.
True
91. No way to edit MMS profile to work with a carrier in the OS. Need an app which is not available in all markets.
My unlocked phone came with an app for this.
92. Call history does not group calls by contact.
True
93. Call history does not show the time of call for calls older than current day.
Not true.
94. Cannot set custom sounds for different types of notifications.
True
95. No ringer profiles.
true
96. No silent option (no vibrate and no ring) from ringer menu. Need a trip to settings and another trip to revert.
True
97. Cannot send/receive contact as a csv file.
Sounds like a platform specific feature.
98. Cannot backup your contacts or sms to PC.
Contacts are found in the account you setup. IE, GMail, Live, facebook. Get them there.
99. Cannot save contact to SIM card.
True, but they are safer online anyways. Lose the SIM, lose your contacts. Happened to me may times. Not any more.
100. Cannot change alarm ring tone or use a MP3 file.
True, but I wrote an app to do this for me.
101. Cannot set alarm snooze interval.
True, but it works for me.


BONUS SHORTCOMINGS


102. Unable to read long names in audio and video playlist as they get cut off
True
103. Zune does not allow user to add or update podcasts directly from the phone
True
104. Zune can only be installed if you have an internet connection
This is a Zune issue, not a WP7 one.
105. Alarm does not revert to speaker if headphones are plugged in.
Duh!
106. Forwarded emails cannot be edited
Not true.
107. OS does not reduce volume of text message alerts when using headphones
You covered this already.
108. Generally force users to use IE, Bing and SkyDrive by shutting out competitors or tying OS features to them.
If you owned a company, wouldn't you. Apple and Google platforms are the same.
109. Wifi- hotspot and internet tethering not integral features in the OS but need to be provided by manufacturer on a case by case basis.
True, because most carriers dont like this feature anyways.
110. Internet Explorer has no forward button for page views.
True, annoying but the screen space is limted so I get it.
111. Mobile Office cannot edit Office 97-2003 documents which competing Office editors and WP7 can. Typical Microsoft strategy to force users to upgrade.
Not sure, never been a problem.
112. Embedded images in emails do not download
They do when you click them. Didn't you complain about excessive data usage downloading email?
113. Bing maps need to tap to get voice direction for next turn.
Nokia Drive is better anyways.
114. No Silverlight support.
115. Compass gives wrong reading in the Southern hemisphere due to bad API in the OS.
Not sure, I'm in Canada
116. 3rd party apps cannot put notifications on the lockscreen
Sure then can. They can send a push notification to the internet and it will come up. Background agents enable this.
117. Cannot be charged up when battery is completely dead. (Lumia specific)
My Lumia 800 seems to be fine.
118. No support for lossless audio format like FLAC and WMA lossless
Give it time for the WMA, dont count on FLAC
119. No HDMI output (Lumia specific).
My LG didn't, My friend's HTC doesn't either. They do all have Play To apps tho.
120. No data usage monitor and no app to do it.
You covered this already. WP7.8 and 8 will.
121. No over the air (OTA) firmware upgrade. All upgrades must be via PC installed Zune.
I would rather this as I feel it is better incase of something going wrong.

Adam Benoit Conclusion: The thing is this: MS released Windows Phone 7 as a stop-gap measure. They've even admitted that WP8 was being worked on before Windows Phone 7 was even released. Many of these complaints were made about iOS and android phones. As time goes by, features get added. These things should be taken care of given time.

Windows Phone 8 is such a leap forward that even if MS doesn't add all of these features, 3rd party developers will be able to. Windows Phone 7 is an extremely closed system that it is impossible to do these things officially. There are hackers that have done things like make file managers, add side loading, change the fonts etc.

Other complaints are about features only available to specific platforms or are user preferences.

Until Windows Phone 8 comes out, people will continue to complain. Most people who focus on its shortcommings are married to another platform and are simply using this as an oppertunity to say their preferred platform is better. Which we know is really a preference. I love my Windows Phone even with it lack of "Standard" features. Android and iOS be damed. :)

Published at DZone with permission of Adam Benoit, author and DZone MVB.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)

Comments

Yuriy Chumak replied on Wed, 2012/07/18 - 12:53pm

I am wondering, the search in the calendar app. is missing for me only?

Adam Benoit replied on Wed, 2012/07/18 - 2:18pm in response to: Yuriy Chumak

no, it's not just you. :)

Mathew Spearey replied on Thu, 2012/07/19 - 11:45am

On number 27, I have had a HTC Trophy WP7 and have just recently upgraded to a lumia 900 and have been able to silence phone calls by flipping the phone.

And I am sure that there will be no VPN support in WP8 either. 

Xiang Gao replied on Thu, 2012/07/26 - 4:34pm

The answer of number 7 is funny: 

And you need iTunes for apple, what's your point? 

I don't think iTunes is a good product. Is WP trying to make an even worse one?

Also, any official CJK input method available on WP?

Edward Villanueva replied on Mon, 2012/07/30 - 10:20pm

I'll just wait for this Win 8 on mobile devices. Miami

Java Guy replied on Tue, 2012/07/31 - 10:05am

What's sad is that so many things are "wait for Windows 8" when Android and IOS keep roaring full speed ahead...

Nokia would have been better off going Android.  They above all other OEM's that went Android had the most potential to be where Samsung is now(dominant Android hardware maker with lots of profit) 

One really sad feature of the Lumia 900 was that while Android / IOS are going quad core, the recently released Lumia is still single core.  Its hard to sell a top of the line smartphone when something so basic doesn't even compare to the competition

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