Late last year, news came out that the Nokia Lumia Black update rollout was going to commence. As a matter of fact, as of the time of this writing, the Lumia Black update has already gone out to the Lumias 1020, 925, and unlocked 920’s. Coming along with Microsoft’s GDR3 package would be a suite of Nokia-bred software, which – are you sitting down? – would primarily be camera-centric apps and enhancements. I know. Try and hide your surprise.
But along with those camera enhancements would come a couple of interesting features. Interesting, that is, if you’re using Windows Phone. To everyone else, the update seems, I don’t know, what’s the word I’m looking for? Silly. Silly because many of the “New” and “Exciting” features that are coming to Windows Phone are things that other platforms have been doing for some time now.
The two things I’m referencing specifically are app folders and app dismissal. App folders will allow a user to group apps together into folders on the home screen. This is a ridiculously handy feature that will expand the function of the home screen by a great margin. This would allow more apps to be displayed on the home screen, making it more useful and overall awesome.
Now, I get why it may have taken Microsoft a while to get a handle on folders. Perhaps minimized tiles inside a folder won’t be all that glancable and thus will fly in the face of the live tile paradigm. But it’s such an obvious feature and so requested that folders had to come eventually. It’s just a shame it took about six generations of software to finally arrive. But at least that delay is slightly understandable and justifiable. But the face that it took the other feature this long is just D-U-M, dumb.
App dismissal will finally come to Windows Phone. You know how in every other OS on the planet, when you’re done with an app you can close it? Yeah, we get to do that only just now. In 2014. X’s will appear in Windows Phone’s card view which will allow a user to close an app they are no longer using and probably forgot that they ever used in the first place. Until now, the only ways to close an app were to spam the back button until you finally returned to the home screen and couldn’t go back any further, or to reboot the phone. Neither option was particularly attractive – go figure.
There isn’t much fanfare revolving around this update. It’s not like Nokia or Microsoft are patting themselves on the back for knocking one out of the park or anything. They shouldn’t be. But still, these are features that took far too long to arrive to the general public. These couldn’t have been all that difficult to achieve. But sure enough, it took a long time to come to Windows Phones.
On the one hand, I should be happy. Microsoft is making good to its users and bringing much requested features. But on the other hand it’s so frustrating to see that it took so very long in the first place. It’s the kind of lack of common sense thinking that makes you shake your head in bewilderment while at the same time nodding to yourself in understanding about why this platform is so behind (although maybe not as much as you might think).
Better late than never?
But I will give Microsoft credit that the updates are here. They’re just really late to the party. And to Microsoft’s credit, they’re not the only ones late to deliver. Apple long ago brought forth the “magical” copy and paste to iOS just a short decade after Palm and Blackberry did. Speaking of Palm, Palm brought mobile flash player to the masses, only a year and a half after Android did and just a few months before even Adobe declared it wasn’t a good idea. So this is not a case that is unique to Microsoft and Windows Phone. Not by a long shot.
But at the end of the day these two features will help being Windows Phone more in line with competitors, which can only be called a good thing. In the meantime, we’ll let Microsoft off the hook – with a warning – for taking so long to do it. Anything that brings more parity to Windows Phone is a great thing and something to smile about. Just don’t cheer or try to rattle the rafters because that’s just sad.