And hints on how to work around this problem…
There are a couple of problems when it comes to Windows Phone 7 development right now. Apart from the obvious, that there are virtually no devices out there, the other problem is that it’s hard to examine all the interaction details. Currently the emulator gives us a very limited view of Windows Phone 7. Now that the OS has gone RTM and the developer tools are final, it’s about time that we get the full environment to play with in the emulator too.
A few examples that are hard to get a grip on without examining the details of the full OS.
- You need to see the standard way to represent an audio player with the controls at the bottom or we will end up with players with controls all over the place.
- Lists with the round play icon in them, it’s hard to guess from a static image that there is a small tilt to the button and that it takes you to the player.
- How is grouping of pictures done, and acceptable?
- How is navigation to camera and back to pictures handled, is the navigation rules something I can benefit from using in my application?
- Examine how a good version of the panorama control is used, what elements are there. Is it acceptable to have a vertical scroll list in a panorama?
- Handling of adding additional data in a panorama control, should I use the application menu or command buttons in the panorama – it’s the latter, please don’t add an application menu in the panorama, it will get messy…
- How is a good professional application like Word or PowerPoint adopted to be used on a mobile device, how is menus handled. what items are most important and what items are on the popup menu?
In other areas
- Should you use the hard search button to access bing only or could be used as a in app search hard button as well? (as it seems it’s mainly used to go directly to bing, nothing else)
- How do the quick letter search in the address book work, can I make use of the interaction in my own application for easy intuitive functionality
There are a number of areas where we need to learn and there is no better way of learning than looking at what have been done already. And if the applications that are from Microsoft cannot be used as reference how are we supposed to know? Everything isn’t available in documented form even if the Windows Phone UI Design and Interaction Guide is a pretty good start (and should be obligatory if you ever want to release an application publically).
So why couldn’t the final version of the developer tools emulator be a full OS implementation, why are we limited to browser and settings + our own application? The interesting part is that the binary used for the emulator is in fact a full blown OS, just crippled. I urge Microsoft to drop the full emulator binary, the winner will be the user that will get better applications with consistent interaction and UI patterns. And the emulator will continue to be an important part of development even when the devices start to be available.
If you search around, let’s use the random words, Windows Phone 7 Final RTWBuild 7003 Unlocked Emulator. There might be some hints and indications on how you could test your application in a full OS instead of the crippled that Microsoft provided us with.
Now if we only could get a good the ability to create an account to the emulator as well, and provide a disk area for storage, and …