Features most wanted in the next version of Windows Phone

The smartphone industry is evolving at an extraordinary rate. Your brand new smartphone could be outdated in a year or so. To keep up with the competition, the operating system must be constantly updated with competitive features.

Although Windows Phone is very young compared to its competition, it has the potential to be on top. Even though the last major update - Mango - added about 500 new features to the OS, Windows Phone still lacks the luster in some areas.

HTC Radar running Windows Phone 7.5 Mango

I've prepared a list of features which I feel the OS just has to have in its next version:

  • Dual-core/quad-core processor support

    None of the 1st-gen and 2nd-gen phones feature a multi-core processor. The market is flooded with dual-core Android smartphones and already, a phone featuring a quad-core processor has arrived. Though the current Windows Phones don't feel slow, the addition of faster hardware is always better.

  • Removable memory support

    In this age of high-definition, the built-in memory offered in Windows Phones falls short very often. You have no option but to stick with what the manufacturer offers. This can be a deal breaker for many users who like to carry their whole media library with them. Microsoft can take a clue from the iPhones, which also have no support for memory cards, but offer higher built-in memory.

  • High-resolution support

    480x800 seems to be the maximum resolution for all Windows Phones. Even the giants like HTC Titan, Titan II and Nokia Lumia 900 have the same resolution. 720p displays are the norm in the high-end smartphone segment and there is no reason for the new Windows Phones to have low-res displays.

  • Notification center

    Currently, there is no central place to see notifications except for the tiles on the Start screen. The notification center/drawer should display notifications for recent missed calls, messages, emails and app updates.

  • Repeated alerts for missed calls, messages and emails

    There should be an option for repeated alerts if you miss calls, messages or emails. Presently, if you miss a call while you are away from your phone, you won't be aware unless you manually unlock and check the phone. The phone should repeatedly alert you with short beeps at regular intervals to notify you of what you've missed.

  • Quick switch for enabling/disabling Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and data connectivity

    At present, there is no quick way to enable/disable Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 3G/EDGE. A quick switch can be neatly incorporated into the notification drawer, saving the user a lot of hassle.

  • Consistent landscape orientation support

    As of now, there is no consistent support for landscape orientation in Mango. The Start screen, Phone tile, People hub, Pictures hub, Marketplace, Zune and Xbox Live apps don't support landscape, but on the other hand, the Me tile and the messaging, mail and calendar apps work in landscape mode. This inconsistency should be ironed out in the next iteration.

  • Complete backup and restore

    There is no way to completely backup and restore data on the phone directly from the OS. There should be an option to backup data and dump it into a single file on the inbuilt/removable memory.

  • True multitasking

    Mango has multitasking but it's more like app switching rather than true multitasking. Apps are just temporarily suspended and go into hibernation until resumed. True multitasking will enable apps to execute in the background. For example, you'll be able to listen to 3rd-party music apps or take calls from Skype while doing other tasks.

  • USB tethering

    In the US, it's usually the carriers who decide whether to enable USB tethering on phones. USB tethering enables users to use their phone's data connection on their PC. The lack of it can be a huge deal breaker for some people.

  • Support for VPNs

    VPN (Virtual Private Network) support is essential for business users. Mango has support for Exchange and RPC-over-HTTPS, but not all businesses use them. The addition of VPNs will make Windows Phone more business-friendly.

  • Native app/interface for video calling

    Skype and Tango are the only known apps for video calling on Windows Phone. Though most of the 2nd-generation Windows Phones have a front-facing camera for video calling, there is no native app to take advantage of it.

There's no guarantee that the inclusion of the above features will make Windows Phone a killer smartphone operating system, but it will definitely give its competition a tough time. If you feel any other features must also be a part of WP vNext, leave a comment below.

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