Windows 10 Technical Preview for Phones In Pictures: Start screen, Action Center, Cortana, Settings, Photos App and More
On February 12th Gabriel Aul officially stated on Twitter that the Windows 10 Technical Preview for Phones is available to download. This was a bold step for Microsoft, for me it was that important that I even bought a second Windows Phone for the Technical Preview because it is not available for the Lumia 930 yet. Surprisingly Microsoft has released the Technical Preview for Low End devices first, what means that the Alpha Version of Windows for Phones is currently available for the following devices:
- Nokia Lumia 630
- Nokia Lumia 635
- Nokia Lumia 636
- Nokia Lumia 638
- Nokia Lumia 730
- Nokia Lumia 830
Now I have Windows 10 on my Lumia 630 for 3 days and could collect quite some experience with the OS. First I have to say that I am glad that the Preview was not available for my Lumia 930 when it has been released because it is still pretty laggy and it is obviously in Alpha state. Secondly the design language is not unified yet, in the Settings you can find a new design language with a white background and new light blue UI Elements, whereas in the redesigned Photo App for example you can find another new design language which has not been in Windows Phone before. Furthermore the settings are mixed up with UI from older versions of Windows Phone and with the new one which does not fit together of course. Clearly Microsoft will change this in the future but at this point it is very unfinished and doesn’t look very good.
Now since I didn’t have the chance to make a Hands On Video with Windows 10 for Phones yet, which doesn’t mean one will not follow, I made something else. When I had a few minutes I grabbed my Nokia Lumia 630 and started to make screenshots. Below you can find a massive list where are all new UI Changes documented with screenshots, I think this can give you a good overview of what has changed in Windows 10 for Phones and if it is worth upgrading or not. To say one thing at the beginning, the only Universal App which has been included yet is the Photo App but this app is still pretty laggy, pictures have to be loaded every time when the app starts up, Folder UI and Albums UI is not available yet and more. The Mail and Calendar App which Microsoft has showed us at their event in January is not available yet.
But what is available in this Build, well there’s the new Startscreen, Interactable Notifications, Additional Features for the App List, Action Center, Alarms App, Battery Saver App (didn’t change but doesn’t work correctly), Calculator App, Cortana, Feedback App, File Explorer App, Messaging App (No Skype, New Keyboard), Phone App and the Settings; So let’s dive in and have a detailed look at Windows 10 Technical Preview for Phones.
Startscreen & App List
The Startscreen is probably the most leaked feature which we have seen before the official release to the public of Windows 10 for Phones, so as you can see Tiles are now transparent and the Wallpaper covers the whole screen, though Joe Belfiore has already confirmed that in the final version it will be possible to display the wallpapers on both, on Tiles and on the whole background. Except from the transparent Tiles there are also new Tile Sizes which are yet only available for the people app. Also in the background of the app list is the wallpaper shown and on top of the app list, recently installed apps are displayed until you have opened them once. If you tap and hold on an app in the app list, the new design language can be seen for the first time.
The Action Center has got some useful new features, therefore it is now possible to dismiss single notifications, even if you have multiple notifications from the same app. Furthermore the list of Quick Actions can be expanded just like we saw it in the Demo of January 21st. Since the ‘Expand’ is now in the Action Center instead of the ‘All Settings, the ‘All Settings’ became a Quick Action too.
One of the most exciting features of the Windows 10 Technical Preview for Phones are the Interactable Notifications, at least according to my opinion. The new feature is still very limited though it is already possible to extend longer text messages so that you can read the full message, and (only with text messages) it is possible to directly answer to the message. By pulling it down a text field opens where it is possible to write your answer. To dismiss notifications, don’t pull do the right like in older versions of Windows Phone, but swipe to the top.
The Alarms app has completely changed in Windows 10 for Phones and is now basically looking like the version of the Technical Preview of Windows 10 for Desktop PC’s. Within the Alarms App there is also a Stopwatch, a World Clock and a Timer, which is pretty neat that it has been included there. Furthermore you can have another look at the new design language of Windows 10 for Phones. The App is pretty simple but does the job what it is meant to do and that’s perfect, one of the few things of the Technical Preview which are working just fine.
The build in Calculator App is another app which has been completely overhauled for the Windows 10 Technical Preview. It is now possible to choose between Standard, Scientific and Programmer Calculator. Furthermore, and that is really nice, there have been included various Converter, so it is possible to convert: Volume, Length, Weight, Temperature, Energy, Area, Speed, Time, Power, Data, Pressure and Angle; Just like in Windows 10 for Desktop, Microsoft is introducing the ‘Burger Menus’ also for Windows Phone and beside the Alarms and Photo App, the Calculator app is one of the first to get this new menu style.
Same as for multiple other Apps, also Cortana got a new design. The basic design color is now white instead of black like in older versions of Windows Phone and it somehow looks more clearly arranged now. Also Cortana gets the new Burger Menu but it is clearly visible that this is not finished yet. In the bottom left of the Cortana app it is possible to give feedback for the personal assistant without launching the Feedback App separately.
Like in Windows 10 for Desktop, Microsoft has also included a Feedback App in Windows 10 for Phones, there isn’t much to say about that, except that the feedback forum is getting filled with questions bug reports and advices very fast currently.
File Explorer App
The next thing is quite a big thing. Since Windows Phone is existing, users are whining for a File Explorer App in Windows Phone. With the Files App which Microsoft has released a couple of Months ago for Windows Phone, this was a somehow half baken solution, it was not the best solution but enough to keep Windows Phone users quite. However Microsoft is showing the community its respect and says us, we are listening; Because with this Build there comes also a File Explorer App, though like the rest of the OS it is not totally finished yet and I think there will come some additional features for the final version but it is already possible to cut, copy and past folders and files, rename folders etc. so it is definitely a good start.
Basically in the Messaging App hasn’t changed anything, the Skype integration which Microsoft showed us at their event in January has not been included with this Build. Though I used the Messaging App to show off the new keyboard, with a curser and a microphone to dictate text messages.
The Phone App has got a pretty cool new design, though there are still some bugs visible as you can see in the screenshots below. When you tap on Search it is displayed over the menu, which could be on conscious but I don’t think so. Apart from that, the app has got a cool new minimalistic design and still offers the Speed Dial and History.
The Photo App is the first real Universal App which has been included in the current Build of Windows 10 for Phones. The App is nice to look at and I think it will go in the right direction, though this is one part of the Technical Preview where I can see that Microsoft really was in a hurry and released the Build as soon as somehow possible. The Photo App has to load pictures every time you open the app – annoying. Furthermore there are not included the album and folder views yet, and photos on the Live Tile are blurry. So here Microsoft has just included a basic version of this app and we will probably see more in upcoming Build Versions.
Actually there isn’t much to say about the Settings app in the Windows 10 Technical Preview for Phones. The Settings are still the same most of the time except for some obvious things like for the Startscreen with the new UI, though there is one thing which has changed and which is worth noting. The new Design which is scattered all over the Settings. It is now more clearly arranged so that if you are used to it, you can find settings faster and easier. Furthermore it simply looks a lot better. The Icons for all the different Setting Sections are same like the one which Microsoft has used for the Settings App in Windows 10 for Desktop PC, so another kind of Universal App.