Nokia gauging interest for Folders in Windows Phone via user survey
Windows Phone Folders concept
As we reported a few days ago, Nokia was asking for feedback on the AT&T Nokia Lumia 900 via a user survey. Those who participated even qualified for a $50 Amazon gift-card for their trouble.
While user surveys are nothing new (and AT&T has done them in the past) one interesting question was noticed by reader Jonathan W regarding folders: "I would like to be able to arrange apps into folders on the apps screen" was asked with a rating system ranging from "Disagree strongly" to "Agree strongly".
That's an interesting item to raise in a survey only because Windows Phone does not have a folder system at all for apps on the Start screen. There is, however, a homebrew folder solution which works very well by Windows Phone Hacker and we know users in the past have asked for such a system (especially with all the apps we now have).
Is Nokia watching the homebrew community? They would be silly to ignore it. Are folders on the table for a Windows Phone OS update? Possibly. We know that Nokia can modify the Start screen and aspects of the UI much deeper than other OEMs.
So far, Nokia have not exercised that option but with the proof-of-concept homebrew folders working out, they could easily (and more elegantly) instantiate such a concept in the OS, should they choose to do so. Alternatively, they could also lean on Microsoft for such a feature for everyone including competing OEMs, much like the 4G LTE experience.
We'll certainly be watching Nokia closely to see what they do with this survey information. Oh and Nokia, yes, folders are a very good option and we'd like to see native support for such a feature in Windows Phone..
Thanks, Jonathan, for the image; Windows Phone Folder concept by WPCentral member Sebastien "ArtSooby" Bruneau
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Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.
I am using the Homebrew app and currently have 3 folders; Favorites, Storage & Maps.
-Favorites (18 apps) include apps I use frequently, but don't have any kind of Live Tile function.Without the folder feature, about 10 of these apps would wind up on my Start Screen, which already have 42 Tiles, the majority of which are Live.
-Storage (8) Includes apps that sync with Dropbox, SkyDrive and can access my desktop to transfer files back and forth. Again, none have Live Tile functionality. The folder takes the place of 5 apps that I would have pinned as I use them almost every day.
-Maps (9) actually also includes map and Search apps. Again, no Live Tiles and easy access to those apps I need when looking for something.. My guess is this replaces 4 Tiles that would otherwise be pinned to my Start screen.
So, 3 folders to take the place of 19 tiles and quick access to 35 apps. That is not in any way a bad thing. Nor does it take away from the spirit of Windows Phone. It does lend itself to the; get in, get out, and get on with your life mentatility though.
Maybe I can do a "Smoked" challenge to find and open 3 search or storage apps. I would win every time.
Or let's just not use an app we need because it starts with a common letter.
Or we can just add functionality that helps out those with many apps needs. After all, isn't that what people want these days: which OS has the most apps to use?
I'm thinking that last idea would be best.
Personally, I don't want to see the WP7 Start screen muddled with folders. The Start screen isn't for every app you have installed, just the ones you want in your face on a daily basis, especially those that use their Live Tiles for real-time updates. Everything else is easy enough to find on the alphabetized app list.
I do think some additional hubs would be a great idea, though. Previously, I've lamented that not all of the entities that I follow on Facebook and Twitter are actual people, so lumping them all into the People hub is kinda awkward. I'd love to see a News hub that aggregates updates from non-people social network entities (although, admittedly, I'm not sure how you'd designate them), RSS feeds, news headlines, weather, and sports scores. Some kind of Reading hub for eBook subscriptions would be worthwhile, too.
Acutally, I've grouped together most of the Microsoft new twitter accounts, like wpcentral and the verge, into a Microsoft group on my phone. With ease, i can look at all the tweets each of each account, or if i choose i can look at them individually. Even Live Tiles work, so i'm pretty much satisfied.
The only down side is that it doesn't work for apps, but that doesn't bother me. I don't have that many apps, and i use them sparingly.
They could group apps and aggregate their notifications into a dynamic or custom hub (or minihub like Nakazul mentioned).
Folders are exactly what they were trying to get away from. It's very 2007.
DING! DING! DING! We have a WINNER!
It's not ideal, but it could work. I think it would good to have folders. The problem with folders on iOS for me was that once I started putting things in folders, I wanted to organize everything. That meant a start screen full of folders that was just hideous to look at and everything took multiple clicks. I don't think that would happen on WP because I'm comfortable with the app list.
I wouldn't understand the reasoning of voting this down as it gives an option to users that would like folders. If you dont like folders, dont use it...
That app was nice.
Nokia, look into screenshot apps too!
Do you not agree that the Games Folder (ok it's a hub because it has a few functions) with a list of games is a good thing. I do. Games are very easy to find. But favorite apps that don't have any functional reason to be on the Start screen, except for quick access, are not all that easy. Alarms, Bandwidth, Calculator, Board Express, Car Log, Forward Contacts, RAD Now, ReversePhoneLookup, ScoreMobile, SkyWallet, Tile Checklist & WorkingTime all don't have functional Live Tiles but I access each of them nearly every day. Two clicks vs. three or four more thumb rolls and one click, several times a day. That's efficient.
Don't get me wrong. I don't want to spend all my time customizing my phone. I actually like that the homebrew Folders app is a little difficult to manage and change (once setup it's great). As a result, I have only made two or three changes to my three folders in the past six months. Actually, when I replaced my Surround with the L900 last week, all I had to do was upload the XAP, which was on my desktop and already had my three folders defined and I was good to go. No fussing to set anything up. It was a breeze.
I do how ever think that when you go to the all apps screen it does look very congested and long.
One way that I feel microsoft could fix that is when you slide over instead of seeing all apps, you see the alphabet grid and you select it from there. I think I've used the search apps maybe twice in my year and a half with the phone. I always select the A square first to get to my other apps. That would be just one less step to take to get it.
We need innovation, folders is going in the opposite direction. providing a solution for the symptom and not the problem of many apps.
What needs to be done is find a way for us to to swipe through automatic categories of apps. For instance swiping to the right from the start screen brings up all apps and more categories will be displayed on the left.
We may also need an opiton to tag apps according to what we use it for. for instance a gym tag can bring up your foursquare and pandora app. you can also see how these tags can be associated with your calendar.
Thats innovation, not folders.
Additional Info you don't really need to read:
I'm not sure whether or not I'll end up using them on the Start Screen actually, but having the Option won't hurt. However, I'll definitely use them in the App List, creating Categories / Folders like [Communication] & [Media], [Cam] and [Editor] within there, then [Office], [Fun], [System] and probably [Nokia]. Effectively cutting down my List of alphabetical sorted Apps into a List of clearly arranged, maybe up to 5 or 6 Categories in the End, improving at least -my- User Experience greatly.
And oh People, the Ignorance! Reading the other Comments on here makes me frown. Guys, that'll be an OPTION. Don't like it? Then just don't use it! And ignore the One-Liner in the Context Menu of the App-List like you ignore the Rest in there. Maybe, Nokia can even put an Option to enable / disable their Folders Feature there in the Preferences for all you Whiners. Humans -always- categorize everything all the Time. Hell, even your nearest Parking Lot may be an appropriate Example for that Behavior.
I'm a very organized Person and Software Developer myself. I'm in my 20s, and I'm quite up-to-date, thanks. Though, my Desktop [Win7, from 2008] on the Laptop consists of a clear, vertical Line on the left of just 7 custom created Folders, all of them with custom Icons, even. Also, if you don't realize Smartphones are Hybrids between Computers and Phones, I'm sorry, but Newsflash: Apps indeed -are- Programs just like on the PC. You can install and uninstall them, run them, switch from one App to the other, each one has its own Purpose and Features, and you close 'em afterwards. So, just because they're on a small Device in your Hand and called Apps [instead of Applications], they don't qualify as being Programs/Applications to you? Srsly?
I don't even question what you Guys think is 'modern' and 'hip' about not categorizing your Stuff, I'm not even interested in your Reasons.
But please, stop being so ignorant. We all need to get along, not just you.
In the End, I -will- have Folders on there one Way or the other. If I have to root it to get it done, that's sad, but fine - to me.
Bottom Line (literally): Stop trying to bar us the Right to organize ourselves, please. We won't stop you from being unorganized, either. Promise. Thanks.