Last year, when first builds of windows 10 insider program were released, there were high expectations from windows phone version of the OS. We were all curious about what will it be look like and which features will be announced. And then Microsoft announced the #nextchapter conference, which we were sure that there will be announcement for early version of windows phone. I personally was more excited about announcing the Surface phone, which is still a rumor to us if it will ever see the light of existence.
And that was it, I started to design a phone, a phone which I expect and love. The process of designing, modeling and rendering of the surface phone took about a month and half, before January 21th 2015 #nextchapter conference, and that was the days which rumors were coming about the mobile version of windows 10, that made me think if I’ve designed a desired phone why not a desired windows phone concept. I started based on the rumors and my personal expectations, I added some specific features which I loved to be there, and it was extraordinary for me that some of them were actually part of the final OS, features like continuum. My surface phone concept never published, that will be out in near future, but I released two versions of windows phone concept a week before the conference, and windows community loved, hated, and reviewed that. Btw I enjoyed that and I learned a lot, that’s why I’m here now. So let’s go for more details about the concept, just after the video. Hope you enjoy it.
1- Lock Screen
To be Minimal and Productive, were two main factors I had in my mind when designing the OS, and the lock Screen was no difference. I wanted to be beautiful and simple, and in the same time fully detail of info from different apps to be accessible. Some argued that the design is messy, but all the design of the OS is about different variety of possibilities that give “Options” to be used or nor to be disabled easily. It’s important that people can enjoy their experience here , and a successful design can satisfy majority of tastes. In the final users will be the true judge for the experience. I also borrowed some features from IOS and android like the camera and phone available available in Lock Screen.
• Detailed date information
• To-do list of your day
• Animated weather widget
• Detailed weather details of the week
• Detailed notification area from various apps
• Interactive notifications, responding directly from Lock screen
• Accessing camera and phone call
• Accessing some selected action center settings (ex. flashlight that wasn’t still added to action center)
2- Start Menu
When I was designing the start menu, I was considering to design a beautiful simple UI while having great functionality, and also wallpaper syncing with user’s desktop version of windows. That made me choose to go to horizontally menu and not the normal vertical start menu of the windows phone. The reason was that our most desktop monitors is in landscape mode, so if we change the phone UI to horizontal menu UI we could have synced wallpaper between both desktop and mobile devices. I now know that was a radical decision, as it’s one of our iconic differences to other platforms. Many users were telling they had a androidish feel to the Concept, and I guess they were right. The first day I published the concept I faced these comments, and honestly I didn’t feel ok with that. So I just went to 10.1 version of my concept and changed the concept, it took a sleepless night, and went back to our original vertical Start menu style.
I do like our platform UI, and minimal approach which is spreading all over our devices. But specifically on mobile, sometimes I feel it goes messy with full screen tiles. Before releasing the windows 10 for mobile, I was thinking they’ll do something for that, and they did, however I think that’s not enough yet, and I’m sure more changes will come with threshold update in 2016 timeframe. what I did was adding extra space from top and even the bottom to make the current tight fullscreen tiles a little cleaner, and also adding bigger tile sizes which I actually think will help a lot. I may have a 10.2 version of the concept design for a better design based on what we actually got now.
• Transparent tiles and background
• Extra tile sizes
• Interactive tiles
• Animated tiles ( ex. Weather tile )
• Video playback on tiles
3- Charm Bar
I was a fan of adding charm bar to windows phone UX, however they removed the idea from the hole ecosystem. In the end I reached to a charm bar style menu in the right side, which holds two major functionalities for me. First some handy tools I needed to be there and second a notepad, right there when u swipe from right corner to left. You just do the gesture and hola, the OneNote is ready to take your notes or just you can tell Cortana to write it for you. I like to say I’m still waiting for a phone with a pen, we do note, and our beloved OS needs that hardware !
There was a second gesture when u swipe again from right corner to left, it could bring the task manager. The idea of one experience through all devices, brought me here to have a desktop task manager style widget there. I still like the idea, but if I do it again I won’t add a specific gesture for that, that could be easily an UVM application, with just an icon in charm bar menu or wherever in the start menu.
• Taking instant notes
• Cortana ready OneNote application ready to go
• Easy accessibility for tools and apps
• Highly detailed task manager for geeks
At the time of this article been written, there are rumors about a surface phone which will run win32 applications and because of Continuum feature, it means you’re always holding your personal computer in your pocket, ready to fly. But in the end of 2014 when I was designing this concept, there was nothing about running win32 apps on mobile. And me as an architect, whom always playing with hardcore softwares like AutoCAD, 3dsMax or Revit, I was really dreaming about having them on my mobile. And yes, I know the limitations of a small display size. The solution was to have the apps on your device, but till they run on mobile mode they could have a modified UI to fit actions like viewing or simple edits. Finally, when you connect your device to a bigger screen, then you’ll be able to use the full UI and functionality.
The continuum feature was announced in #build 2015 conference, and also they revealed the availability of win32 application which will be bridged to UVM platform. And I’m super excited about the whole idea, and all possibilities ahead.
• Running win32 applications
• Run win32 apps in mobile mode to do simple tasks
• Continuum like mode and have full functionality of the software
5- Switch Between Apps
There was a feature in windows 8.1 , which made it quite easy to switch between apps with a simple gesture, touching and swiping from left corner to right. However, it’s gone, I still wish we could have it on our mobiles. And I’m sure as a feature which many could ignore, but such a feature could be great for rest of us which liked it, even more it could have on option to turn ON or OFF.
6- Action Center
The action Center Structure of design was based on some rumors, some features from IOS and android, and some other which I personally preferred. One of my favorite was replacing the icons to the bottom instead of top, which I still prefer as I like one handed usage and being there in bottom make reaching actions and icons more accessible. I wish it could be an option, if there were more people like me willing for that.
One of other features I liked to add was interactive notifications, that is actually available now in windows 10 builds, the only thing it needs is extra attention from developers to implement that in their apps.
• Transparent Action Center
• Extendable actions menu
• Interactive notifications
• Player controllers for music or even video
• Extra controllers for sound or brightness
7- Applications List
There were two major modifications I liked to happen in Applications list menu. First I was thinking about a desktop user like feature, which allows us to borrow our mobiles to other members of family and friends. They can have their specific tiles and settings same as what is available for a long time in desktop windows. Another one was adding a place for Favorite apps, which the OS will show your most used app there, and that’s available now in the desktop version.
• Switching users
• Transparent design
• Favorite apps
I hope you’ve enjoyed the design, I’m sure it is not perfect, I did that to learn, and I’m ready to learn more. Tell me anything you liked or disliked. I may have a newer version knowing that threshold will come probably in 2016 summer, so your notes will help a lot.