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5 iPhone Features Microsoft Needs to Borrow for Windows Phone 8.1



It didn’t take long after the winter holidays ended for rumors about Windows Phone 8.1, the next version of Microsoft’s mobile phone operating system to heat up. Already rumors are swirling about the operating system integrating with the Windows Store and borrowing more than a few features from Windows 8, its desktop, laptop and tablet-based counterpart.

Though Windows Phone 8.1 should certainly borrow a few features from other Windows operating systems, it would also be a good idea for Microsoft to borrow a few features from the world’s second most-popular operating system: iOS, the software that powers Apple’s iPhone.

Here are 5 iPhone features Microsoft needs to borrow for Windows Phone 8.1 or next version of Windows Phone.

Home Screen Wallpapers

5 iPhone Features Microsoft Needs to Borrow for Windows Phone 8 (1)

It might seem silly to be including wallpapers as a much-needed feature in a mobile phone operating system that’s already four years old, but here we are. Though Windows Phone users can personalize their device with a lockscreen wallpaper, Microsoft doesn’t allow users to add a background image to Windows Phone’s Start Screen. This leaves Windows Phone devices feeling much more unpersonal than the iPhone or any devices with Android installed.

Do Not Disturb

5 iPhone Features Microsoft Needs to Borrow for Windows Phone 8 (2)

The iPhone’s ability to temporarily disable all audible notifications during certain hours is a god send. There’s nothing worse than having a decent night’s sleep interrupted by an application that picks the worst time to inform users of a pending turn in GameCenter or a Twitter message that could have waited until the morning. Do Not Disturb is one of the iPhone’s greatest features and one that Microsoft should consider copying for inclusion in Windows Phone 8.1. To be fair, Microsoft does include the feature in Windows 8.1.

Integrated Settings

5 iPhone Features Microsoft Needs to Borrow for Windows Phone 8 (5)

Windows Phone 8.1 is rumored to be another major platform shift for anyone who’s already developed an app for the platform. If that’s true, now is the time to address one of the continually nagging issues of any mobile operating system: not having a unified settings interface. Microsoft need’s to copy this from the iPhone’s playbook. User’s shouldn’t have to go to each individual application to find settings for notifications and live tiles, instead they should have the alternative to head to one centralized location that also houses all the apps and settings they need to keep track of or modify.

Notification Center

5 iPhone Features Microsoft Needs to Borrow for Windows Phone 8 (6)

Rumors already indicate that Microsoft is preparing to finally include a centralized notification center in Windows Phone 8.1. They should. I also hope that Microsoft borrows the real-time Today screen that surfaces weather, reminders and a summary of the day’s events from the iPhone. Being able to glance at your screen and know how long it’ll take you to get home in current travel conditions is sometimes useful. Instantly knowing the current temperature and weather conditions outside without an app is always useful.

Separate Music, Video and Podcast Apps

I’ve always liked the idea of hubs, the apps on Windows Phone that combine relevant functionality into one large screen. In most cases, the hubs idea works well. For example, the Office hub allows users to manage and view documents from Word, Excel, Power Point and OneNote all from one place. On the other hand sometimes hubs can turn out to be one giant mess. The Music + Video Hub seems like it’s forced. Podcasts are included there, but you’d never know it from the Hubs name.

5 iPhone Features Microsoft Needs to Borrow for Windows Phone 8 (7)

Windows Phone automatically shows off the latest musical artist to be played by the device but doesn’t do so with artwork from videos and so forth. It’s a giant unorganized disaster that needs to be cleaned up and the way iPhone handles media is a perfect blueprint. Apple’s iOS simply splits these functions into different apps. Microsoft has already released a separate Xbox Video and Xbox Music app, however it could go back to the old way of doing things in Windows Phone 8.1. To be clear, it shouldn’t. Keep the separate apps and give each function the attention it deserves.

Read: Windows Phone 8.1 Features Could Turn Platform Into a True iPhone Rival

Hopefully, Microsoft borrows one or these features for the next major update to Windows Phone. Rumors indicate that Windows Phone 8.1 could be detailed as early as next month’s Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, Spain. It’s unclear when owners of existing Windows Phone devices would see it arrive as an update on their handsets.



  1. udontknow jack

    01/14/2014 at 10:11 am

    Home Screen Background:
    If you actually have a WP, go to the start screen and see that you would only see a miniscule amount of a background image behind the live tiles.

    Do Not Disturb:
    There are already apps that can do just that, although it is not a built in feature.

    Integrated Settings:
    I can agree with better, integrated settings – but iPhone settings are a cluster****.

    Notification Center:
    As you know, this is already coming.
    For iPhone’s ‘Today’ feature… no thank you, that’s what live tiles are for. I have all of that info on live tiles on my start screen right now.

    Separate Music, Video and Podcast Apps:
    Other than podcasts, this has already happened and won’t go back as Microsoft has said they have separated them as apps so that they can be updated/altered more frequently.

    So really, I see one thing Windows Phone could take from iOS… and that one thing isn’t a big deal.

    • hutty

      01/14/2014 at 12:28 pm

      Yeah, what he said.

  2. Duff

    01/14/2014 at 12:50 pm

    I am going to have to agree with most of what Jack says.

    Home Screen Backround: There isn’t enough room behind the tiles on a WP, so I would most likely make things worse then having a black or a white backround (although more color options might be interesting)

    Do Not Disturb: I’m a heavy sleeper, so this doesn’t bother me. But for the people it does bother, they need to make this an integrated feature, and not up to the developers to add that feature in an app.

    Integrated settings: Yes, needs good integrated settings: iPhones is a start, but it could definitely be a lot better.

    Notification Center: Already confirmed by Microsoft, why bother adding it? “Today” feature??? Like Jack said, Live tiles, nuff said.

    Separate Music, Video, and Podcast apps: Do your research, it has already been done.

    Can’t stand when journalist write these articles without doing research and get the most simple stuff wrong.

    • Travis Pope

      01/14/2014 at 1:52 pm

      I understand why Windows Phone doesn’t have a background behind the live tiles, and I can honestly say I don’t think people care what the reasoning is. The fact is it’s not there and its a feature most users enjoy. Folks like to customize their device. You’re a heavy sleeper so not having Do Not Disturb bothers you, we all aren’t heavy sleepers. I called out Today as a feature i’d enjoy because its a part of Notification center. To be clear, Microsoft hasn’t confirmed that a notification center is on the way. Leaks have have confirmed it, but i’m not willing to go off of leaks alone in this case. Also, I call out the work they’ve recently done with separate media apps. Microsoft has indicated whether Xbox Music and Xbox Video will stay out of the core OS for the next version or be integrated. All indications are that this is a stop gap to get Xbox Music on good footing in the short term.

      Thanks for playing.

      • Duff

        01/17/2014 at 10:16 am

        It is good that you understand the background, but why even add it to the article? Yes, a lot of users enjoy the background. But why would MS waist their time implementing that feature that the majority of the people would not even use after realizing it looks awful behind the tiles. There is just not enough space. Yes, I’m a heavy sleeper, but if you could take the time to read (I don’t know if it was laziness or you just can’t read), I talked about the people it does bother. I also agreed with you on this subject! Just read all the words, it is not that hard…

        You know what, why waste my time continuing this? Just do a little more research next time ;) and make sure if you reply, read everything!

  3. The windows dude

    01/14/2014 at 1:21 pm

    This goes to jack with his answer:
    Notification Center:
    As you know, this is already coming.
    For iPhone’s ‘Today’ feature… no thank you, that’s what live tiles are for. I have all of that info on live tiles on my start screen right now.

    This is true live tiles you have information there, but what if I have an app not on the home screen how will I be notified? I don’t like having every single app I own on my screen.

  4. Wallis

    01/14/2014 at 5:54 pm

    Do Not Disturb is needed badly. There are no apps that allow a Whitelist of callers to be able to call whilst blocking all other calls.

  5. Jitesh

    01/14/2014 at 9:00 pm

    Why not put phone on silent ? This feature is already available.

    • Wallis

      01/14/2014 at 9:17 pm

      Putting the phone on silent blaocks all calls. I don’t want to miss a call from a family member in an emergency. I also would like to get calls from friends after business hours, but not from clients or marketers.

  6. Mark

    01/15/2014 at 1:17 am

    Hey Travis, long time.

    I agree with part of what is written and I presume it is pre-Xbox video and Music preview:

    1. Wallpapers – I disagree with this one. I have my photos Tile wide on the top and tons of my great shots scroll by – family, landscapes, floral picks. Now that I have Story Teller with Nokia Black, the same is true of that tile.

    2. Notification center – right on. I agree. With that said, I do manage with my Facebook tile updating, my ME tile and People tile as well. With y wife pinned, I don’t miss any thing with her.

    3. Integrated settings – again, agree. However, if the Xbox video and Xbox music are an indication, that may well be on the way. I currently share content across 2 of three of my screens. PC and Tablets and Phone. Xbox doesn’t allow the same integration on 330 right now. Hoping the same comes of the Bing News, etc. as currently on Win 8 (I accessed this through the category I pinned in the News App on Windows)

    4. Podcast app to compliment Music and Video. No need to go any further on this one.

    5. Do not disturb. Actually, on my 920 I have it set to vibrate only. I do not notice any notifications buzzing with Glance on, though I am sure they are there. I do miss the feedback typing, etc. But rarely do I miss anything. I constantly hear phones (mostly iPhones) buzzing in the office around me. Maybe they don’t know how to use them or I simply have no friends. ;)

  7. scully

    01/17/2014 at 12:52 am

    Why is a Home screen background considered an IOS feature?

    Even my previous Symbian devices could do that.

    Wow the arrogance of it…

  8. NOLATechy

    01/17/2014 at 9:24 am

    Home Screen Wallpapers – This is something that IMO is completely unwarranted. As reported recently, many iOS users were complaining of motion sickness by iPhone’s wallpapers, so why would a WP8.1 user want this? Also, as an iPhone user myself, I find a plain color wallpaper makes the icons show up easier and looks “less cluttered.”

    Do Not Disturb – I have to agree, as a Windows Phone 8 user, this feature would be helpful if integrated into the operating system. However, there is a 3rd Party app called “Quiet Hours” that will allow for this function, but not as good as the iPhone program.

    Integrated Settings – All available reports indicate that Windows Phone 8.1 will have this feature built in. On small “flick” down from the top will reveal this feature.

    Notification Center – As with the Integrated Setting mentioned above, this will also be included in Windows Phone 8.1. A long “drag” down from the top of the screen will reveal all notifications.

    Separate Music, Video and Podcast – Microsoft has already separated these apps in the Update 3 of Windows Phone 8. I have these currently. There has been no indication that this will change in Windows Phone 8.1. In fact, given that Microsoft is working towards a “unified” operating system, and Windows 8.1 has separate apps, I can’t imagine Microsoft would re-combine these apps again.

    It seems obvious to me that the writer favorites Apple products, which is fine, but a good journalist should have the ability to remain impartial when writing about other products, even when those products may compete with products he or she prefers. For example, the writer completed neglected to add the “benefits” associated with Windows Phone 8, like the fact that when I first purchased my Windows Phone there was less than 100,000 apps in the Windows Store and not even one year later there are over 200,000. This shows a huge increase in the interest of developers developing for Windows Phone.

    Therefore, I’d like to list things Apple should consider borrowing from Windows Phone.

    Dedicated Camera Button – While iPhones can take reasonably good pictures, getting to the camera requires unlocking the phone and tapping the camera icon. With my Nokia, one hold of the dedicated camera button (even while the phone is in standby mode) will open the camera and allow me to take all the pictures I want.

    Live Tile Icons – While iPhone will notify you of pending emails, texts, etc with a “number” in the corner of the icon, you will need to pull down the notification center to see the details of those notifications before you can see what they are. Live tiles in Windows Phone display the information of the Text message, calendar event, email, etc. right on the live tile so you know instantly if you need to react to it. However, Microsoft is planning to add notification center to Windows Phone 8.1 so WP8.1 will have the best of BOTH worlds.

    App Search List – Finding an app on iPhone isn’t very easy. If you don’t remember what page or folder you placed the app in, you will need to go into the search mode and type the app name and search for it (or ask Siri to open it). On Windows Phone, all you need to do is swipe left to bring up the list of apps, tap on a letter and then tap the letter your app name begins with.

  9. Marker Boyle

    10/07/2015 at 11:24 pm

    Do we have to make this way through Apple’s Copy-Pasting and say that Windows had to borrow these features from Android?

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