Microsoft's new 'exploding' Live Tiles to launch with Windows 10 for Phone

Windows 10 for Phone to have innovative Mixview Live Tiles

When it comes to Windows 10 on PC, much is already known in terms of enterprise design and features. After all, there is a public preview of Windows 10, which is downloadable to any laptop or PC right now. Still, the consumer end of Windows 10 is mostly a mystery at this time. Microsoft reportedly will detail more on that facet early next year.

Another unclear aspect is in regards to the Windows Phone UI. Although Windows 10 spans across PC, laptop, tablet, phone and even the Xbox One, it is not clear what, if any, changes it brings to the Start screen, especially on the phone.

Windows Central has been able to confirm with multiple sources that 'flyout tiles', also known as Mixview, will return to Windows Phone. Such a feature is returning because the concept was originally designed for the 3D Touch system that was to premiere with 'McLaren'.

Cancelled McLaren Windows Phone prototype

The cancelled 'McLaren' prototype Windows Phone was to have 3D Touch

McLaren was the codename for the new flagship Windows Phone set for release for fall 2014 before it was abruptly cancelled this past July. (A prototype of that phone was recently spotted as confirmed on Twitter by The Verge's Tom Warren).

At the time, Windows Central noted that although McLaren as a device is dead in the water, various aspects of the 3D Touch system would continue. Exploration into next-generation UIs and interaction paradigms is something that Microsoft is always working on in their Research division. Evidently, Microsoft has seen flyout tiles as something that could be used even without 3D Touch.

Flyout tiles and Mixview

From our original reporting in June on Mixview, we described the new Tile design this way:

"Imagine a Tile on your Start screen, as your finger hovers above the Tile, it wiggles a bit, giving you a visual indication that you are giving focus to the element. When pressing down in the air (without touching the Tile) it "explodes" into many smaller Tiles, up to eight with varying sizes and each revealing custom content from that app. For example, a contact's Tile could display their phone number, the last email, a text message, photos, etc."

It should be noted that such a system was describing the now-defunct 3D Touch gesture system. That iteration of the Start screen was to debut with Windows Phone 8.1 GDR2 on the now-cancelled McLaren Windows Phone.

The original Zune Mixview

Interestingly, Microsoft's original conception for Mixview can be observed in the Zune music software, seen above. Once again, it appears Microsoft is building off legacy design principles.

Fast-forward to late 2014 and although 3D Touch is not something currently in the works (to our knowledge), the Mixview UI is alive and well. A person familiar with the matter recently described to us the current recapitulation of Mixview running on a Lumia 830:

"…you can select the Facebook tile, just press for a second in a special part of the tile, and three new tile come on top of it, showing you notifications, messages, etc. You later press somewhere outside the Facebook tile, and it goes back to normal. It gives a new meaning to the whole "live tile" thing. I assume the Facebook feature is only a hint of the many uses this new feature could have, such as controlling music and messaging apps."

Update: Reportedly, the "special part of the tile" refers to an ellipsis graphic near the bottom right corner. Taping this reveals smaller, actionable tiles.

The above description matches our other sourced reports of what Microsoft is experimenting with for Windows 10. Windows 10, however, is not expected to launch until mid-2015 (at the earliest) and presumably much can change between now and its final release. We have to wait and see if Mixview makes the cut.

Evolving the Live Tile

Microsoft's Live Tile system is, arguably, one of its strongest assets in terms of OS design. While Android and iOS are still sticking with rows of icons for apps, Microsoft's Live Tiles stand out as a viable and interesting alternative. The question of 'where do we go from here?' is certainly a reasonable question, and Microsoft appears to have an answer with these purported flyout tiles.

Regardless, it should be clear that there is stil much to learn about Windows 10, including core aspects of design, interaction and new features. Assuming Microsoft fills in some of these knowledge gaps early next year, Windows Phone users will at least have something tangible to look forward to until its release.

Daniel Rubino
Editor-in-chief

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

355 Comments
  • Looking forward to Developer Preview.
  • Me to... Hoping it'll be a good three months before general release! So first half of 2015
  • The "live tiles" are one of the only remaining reasons to buy a Windows Phone at this point.
  • I would have agreed with you a week ago. But I purchased my first Android phone and have been using it for a week. Live tiles are not the only thing WP has going for it. Handsfree ability when connected via Bluetooth is much better in WP. Sure I could install an app and even program something through tasker, but oh my god what a garbled mess doing all that is. Something as simple as having a persistant toast message for meeting reminders requires an App. On the plus side, there is an App for everything and the widgets are not bad. I have a feeling i'll be back on Windows Phone as soon as they put out a decent flagship with Windows 10.
  • Oh man, I'm in the same situation. I'm using an Android phone and there are so many things I miss from WP. I also have a feeling that Windows 10 will bring back home.
  • Yeah. People switching to android or IOS, miss many features of WP. Windows Phone even though we hate you, we still love you.=)
  • Been there done that, I'm a busy person now and WP is a real time saver, no fuss smooth experience.
  • Agree.
    Now, lets see a 2015 spec'd top of the line, packed full of goodness, photo fabulous flagship please!!! :D
  • i couldnt agree more with your statement @rwalrond. im currently stuck with a nexus 5 after my 8x died due to water damage and the only phone i could afford was a nexus 5 which was on sale for around 100usd. i totally miss the typography/content oriented design of metro/modern ui. i dont need fancy icons. in windows phone the app list is presented with large text. i see what im looking for. my eyes hurt from searching through the sea of icons which are non functional (accept for being pretty). i just hope when 10 releases for phones, microsoft will consider having it booting from arm devices like a nexus 5 so i can flash windows 10 into it.
  • Personally, I think the main reason to buy a Windows Phone at this point is Bing Search.  My wife has an iPhone, and I have played with it trying to find a way to do the equivalent, for example with local results and the integration with mapping and Here Drive, and I just don't see it.  I have not tried an Android phone.  Live tiles are nice for calendar and weather.  Honestly, beyond those, I don't see much point.
  • there is a Bing App for ios 
  • Haha... Agreed. And the MODERN design
  • "Windows 10 for Phone"? Ugh. Why does Microsoft insist on adding extra and unnecessary words to things?!?
  • They haven't...yet.
  • HTC Hima (M9) with Windows 10 for Phones©. ;)
  • The 'for Phone' part is added by Windows Central so you can tell which UI they're talking about. Microsoft have actually removed the word Phone entirely.
  • Exactly. FWIW, this is very likely to be on Windows 10 for PC too, but at this time I only have multiple visual confirmations on Phone, so I wanted to make that clear.
  • Can we see a video of this. Call it an early christmas gift lol.
  • It's just for article clarification purposes. It's going to be just Windows 10 on everything.
  • Because... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUXnJraKM3k Oldie but goodie.
  • @ erasure25 I had not seen that before. And it was fantastic. Thanks for making my morning.
  • Microsoft has no idea how to market to consumers, including the way it names its products.  "Windows RT" is one example.  "Windows Screen Sharing" was another example.  They are clueless.
  • Lol
  • This sounds great. I'm glad Microsoft going "deeper" into thier particular UI choice with the Live Tile concept.
    I love Window's Phone and was glad to see all of the awesome updates that came with Windows Phone 8.1. I was disappointed however with the removal of the deep social network integration and messaging integration which essentially made social network apps "invisible" as you interacted with friends and Family on Facebook and Twitter, interacting with content, liking comments, tagging photos, commenting, etc. I understand the disentangling of the apps from the OS, logic to allow for more frequent and nimbler updates, however communication has become a tad clumsier as Windows Phone is more App Centric(like iOS and Android) than People -Centric as it was pre - 8.1.
    I find frustrating and abrupt which was once a seamless process when responding to someone on FB Messenger. Rather than going to the "person", now like iOS and Android we have to chase them through an App: Find messenger and message away. Or if I want to comment on facebook or view a contacts photos, I go to the contact then have to hit the Facebook short cut, a Facebook splash screen momentarily appears, then I am in the Blue and White Facebook app. Like Android and iOS .Whereas in time past, as we know, if we wanted to comment on a contacts Facebook posts or look through their FB images or tag them, you just went to the contact card and commented, viewed or tagged away. The "interface" was seamless. No abrupt leap from the contact card to an app with a visually different UI. The OS itself was like a portal to our social networking world. Seamless. I miss that. Extensibility and has been promised to bring other apps on board in accordance with the "quicker update, more app integration" vision, but we've seen little progress on that front thus far, and the Twitter app which was mistakenly released early on and recalled has yet to reappear(which I'm kind of glad it hasn't since Twitter is still represented the old way.)
    All that said I do enjoy all of she improvements 8.1 brought and I'm glad to see MS sticking to thier vision with the Live Tiles evolution! They have been accused of become more iOS and Android-esque in attempts to, I presume to some degree, be easier to transition to for iOS and Android converts. Keep holding to your guns Microsoft. Windows Phones uniqueness, Live Tiles, (Hubs and Social Network Integration) won many of us over. We have swallowed the bitter pill of the casualties of the loss of some loved features for what we have been told was for the good of the platform. Seeing Live Tiles the most distinct and visible feature of Windows Phone taken to the next level is exciting. I'm thinking this is just the tip of the iceberg. :-)
  • How long did it take you type that comment?!
  • HA :D
     
  • No matter how long you typed. But I agree to each and every word you said. Things like notification centre and Cortana are good. But removing features from the messaging hub and people hub was not a good decision. Microsoft's whole marketing scheme as "Your personal smartphone", has now kinda lost meaning.
  • I agree with everything you said. Microsoft has the ideas and people to really wow everyone. Their challenge has always been execution, consistency, and then communication! The other platforms have taken a cue from us with their recent design. I hope Microsoft lives up to its potential.
  • The more they go back to Zune UI the better. I hope to be able again to press oversized typography to return to previous menu. Such a joy to use.
  • Amen! I had a Zune HD and that was one of the greatest devices I have ever used
  • Agree. I still use a Windows Phone 7 device as my media player because the Zune software is so much better than the Xbox Music app (and also better than the Windows Phone app for desktop). I've been trying to add music the the microSD card on my new Lumia 630... but I can't get it to work right... which is incredibly frustrating. I also can't get it to download Maps to my SD card.
  • Is there actualy still coming a GDR2 release for Windows Phone 8.1? It was planned to be released in October according to WCentral. Anyway, I think it's a nice features. Looking forward to it. :)
  • I seriously doubt that.
  • It will by the end of the next year..
  • Wut? By that time W10 will be out.
  • that was gdr1
  • GDR1 was released in August. GDR2 was planned for October 2014, but never happened for now. Did you even read my comment?
  • With the 'Coming Soon' everytime, it reminds me October comes every year!!
  • GDR2 is supposed to add hardware support to 2.7 GHz Snapdragon 805 and 2K display.  Since no new high-end phones will be released in the near term, GDR2 may come in the early Spring.  Hopefully, MS will surprise us in MWC 2015 (March 2-3) with a new high-end phone announcement.
  • "When pressing down in the air (without touching the Tile)" I'm confused because that seems it would require new hardware?
  • That's them quoting from the information given about the now defunct McLaren that they were working on. That was the last time we had heard of the "exploding tiles", that is why that description was included.
  • I guess.. So not all phones will be having this feature, right?
  • The tiles themselves will have a spot that you press for a second and they will 'explode' so all phones will support it. Think right click vs left on a mouse.
  • I was thinking of...
    Tap once, open app
    Tap twice, open app Mixview ;)
  • The app would open on the first tap though, giving you no chance to tap a second time
  • Yeah, reverse is better: One tap explode, two taps opens (like Windows on PC)
  • No, think of the "long press", the method you use to resize your tiles now. The resize arrow is in one corner while the tile is in "resize mode", and the "unpin" button is in another right? Well the "exploding ellipse" button could be in an adjacent corner, no? (there's currently still two free corners!)
  • Eh, long press kinda sucks. Double tap to explode will work fine. The device will just wait a split second for another tap before the app launches.
  • Nobody wants that
  • That's what I was thinking.
  • IMO, a zoom in gesture on the tile with two fingers would be more natural and wouldn't require new hardware.
  • That would work really well for the larger tiles, but if you have extra tiles displayed on a regular sized phone, then the small tiles are too small for two fingers.
  • I agree with you that would be much more natural, and I disagree with the other guy, I think it would still work well with small tiles, and even if it doesn't it could be made for large tiles only.
  • Yes, this is perfect!
  • Nice idea actually. But I doubt it. Pinch gesture require two fingers and some of us like to operate the phone using only one thumb in most case. If this gesture is used, I will be one of them who will rarely use the feature.