So, I’m a full time Windows Phone user. My Lumia 920 is my daily driver. I’ve found it to be the best platform for me and what I do. I have a couple of Android devices laying around, so I’m neither ignorant, nor exclusive. The other day, I was fiddling around on my Samsung GSIII when something occurred to me – multiple home screens are nice. It would be sweet if Windows Phone home screens could get on board that train.
It makes sense when you think about it. The vertical scrolling in Windows phone really is less than ideal. After all, if you have a bunch of small tiles – and lets face it, that was one of the things I looked forward to in Windows 7.8/8. – they’re not always so easy to distinguish when scrolling vertically. One of the downsides of the vertical scroll is there’s a definitive lack of precision when doing it. When you flick your thumb up, it goes and goes and where it stops nobody knows. Which means you can’t program yourself to think, “My email is going to be one flick up and then two tiles down in the right hand column.”
It keeps going and going and going…
With multiple home screens, the game changes. Currently, Windows Phone adopts a vertical perspective. One home screen that can go on indefinitely. This is nice because you have no limit on how many live tiles you can have, or how you want to arrange them. Multiple home screens could still adopt that vertical model. One flick up, you go to home screen number two. If you add more tiles than home screen two can handle, then you automatically create home screen number three. Rinse. Repeat.
Microsoft already has the grid system down pat. Tiles are a great implementation of that grid system. It gives you the information like widgets, but it keeps the design paradigm consistent across the platform which is a very desirable trait. All I want are pages instead of one long page. I’ll take vertical or horizontal; I’m not picky. But there is something to be said for horizontal.
Peer pressure. Everyone’s doing it.
After all that’s the design paradigm used for Windows 8. And iOS. And Android. Windows Phone pretty much remains the only home screen system that uses vertical scrolling. That would actually open up some other possibilities to make the home screen, and more notably, multiple home screens more usable.
A static bar of tiles across the bottom that did not move when the home screens did would be hellacool. Sure it’s been done on every other platform. But, that’s kinda because it works. Four small tiles running across the bottom of the screen which enable quick access to Phone, People (read: Contacts) Whatever and Whatever would be pretty sweet. Meantime, you can scroll horizontally between home screens and organize things a bit better and make things faster.
In my case, most of my important tiles are either at the top of the home screen, or at the bottom. The reason for this is, I can flick down to the bottom and have it stop when it gets there. Once it does, I’ll know that my Pocketnow shortcut is third from the bottom. But I find myself losing middle tiles because they’re off the screen when I’m all the way at either end, and that means I have to scan for them, which is not conducive to quick access to information, which is what Windows Phone live tiles are all about. Maybe I’m just too German.
So crazy, it just might work
It’s not like I’m asking all that much. If the horizontal or vertical scroller had defined “pages” or “home screens” or whatever you want to call them, the tiles would be locked into place every time you visited that particular screen. So Twitter and Facebook could be the first and second tiles on my second home screen, always. I know it’s crazy, right?
Windows Phone obviously didn’t adopt this from the start. It could be part of their overall design philosophy that it doesn’t “flow” like the rest of the UI. Some might see flicking between screens as “janky” or “not efficient”. Maybe having the home screen screech to a halt with every new set of icons would be jarring. It’s not on Android, but I could see the argument. If one has enough home screens, suddenly you’re looking at three swipes and a tap to do what just one swipe and tap does now. It’s the little things.
Maybe there’s a patent issue. After all, every other OS in the world uses a similar concept, surely someone must’ve put a “c” in a circle next to it by now right? Maybe Microsoft couldn’t use something like that if they wanted to. Though I suppose anything is possible given enough time or dollars.
It’s not like Windows Phone is unusable now – far from it. But it occurred to me, sitting there swiping left and right, that I’d sure love to be able to do that on my Lumia. Maybe it’s a pipe dream. Maybe it’ll come some day. It is not the biggest problem Windows Phone has to overcome. Not even close. But maybe it might make some lives a little easier. What about you? Would such a concept make your experience easier? Or are you more of a one flick and done kind of bloke? Am I just griping about a tiny little thing and wasting our time? Sound off below and let me and maybe Microsoft know what’s up.