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

Daniel Rubino

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 lived the feature on my n9 but with how easy stuff is to find on wp7 it's highly unnecessary.
  • I'd like to group my apps into categories... I miss that.
  • That would be good. Since it would be good on wp7, I wonder why people don't notice that that's what windows 8 is all about, intuitive, ease of use, and organization(that what you do on the new home screen organize apps into categories with custom labels as well as get a steady stream of info on apps the support dynamics updated like on wp7)
  • I agree,only the iPhone refugees seem to want this
  • I've never owned an iPhone I love the idea of native folders function and I'm sure many others do as well. I jailbroke my focus flash to install this function and it works great. And btw it was a legal jailbreak I got a free wp7 developer account as a student.
  • To me, this is saying that folders are not going to be implemented into WP8.  Otherwise, why bother?  I'm not saying that this is necessarily good or bad (I cope just fine without folders), but I believe it might be something worth noting.
  • I don't really want folders. We have hubs already. To me folders muddles the UI and defeats some of the purpose of live tiles. The alpha shortcuts on the app list work very well for selecting from a long list of apps.
  • agreed
  • Well, we have the hubs we are given. I'd actually like to be able to create custom hubs/folders like this concept describes. A "news" hub or an "email" (NOT a linked inbox) hub would be MUCH appreciated.
  • Exactly. Agree 100%.
  • Custom hubs. Yes. Not folders. Folders are stone-age IMO.
  • Well, I have exactly 30 apps that start with the letter "S", so the alpha shortcuts are not all that convenient. Not including games, I currently have 155 apps. That's a lot of names to remember, many of which have names that have absolutley nothing to do with what the app does. Folders are a good thing.
    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.
  • No one asked u to install alot of S apps, that's your problem
  • Yeah, let's petition app developers to change the names of their apps.
    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.
  • Jimski sir you've just got too many apps. You even said it yourself you use 18 of them all the time. Its not a PC, its a windows PHONE
  • Lol. Blame it on the S app developers. Really, hubs or indexes are good if you can remember the app name. Would be nice to either have app renaming feature or change the alphabetical indexing to categorized indexing.
  • I think Nokia is talking about hubs.  Like Microsoft made it so you can make a groups folder (which I use for speed dial).  It would be the same thing, you have a hug for say all your photo apps, or messenger apps.  I thought Microsoft should have added it a long time ago.
  • Create your own mini hubs would be better. For example, I currently have 4 apps conserning Japanese language, places to visit etc. Would be nice to create a "Language Hub" or "Studying hub" to keep them handy and sorted as I see fit.
  • The thing about Hubs is that they're not merely folders for organizing apps into groups. There's functionality for intelligently threading together updates from different sources. I'm not sure whether that's something that could be properly designed on the fly.
    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.
  • You can do that! the Group feature on WP is essentially a CUSTOM HUB that you can use to group the news contacts you follow on Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks. 
    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. 
  • Wow yea what a powerful feature,doing this would eliminate the need for some of those RSS feed apps
  • When I took the survey at lunch time today I voted "strongly agree" not because I need folders but because having more choices is good for everyone.
  • Folders should not necessarily be on the start screen. But they must be part of the app and file organisation system. A user should be given as much control as possible of their apps and files. I find the alphabetical app list off the start screen too messy and want the flexibility to organise the order of how items are found to be at my discretion.
  • True that.. I like this one.. File folders in the system not start screen...
  • I agree too. I'd never put a folder on my start screen but it would be nice to be able to rearrange the main app list in various ways. Most recent, most frequent, categories etc
  • Custom Hubs!
    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.
  • Just build on the games hub approach.
  • I would love custom "hubs".  Not folders as we know them from other systems.  Create a news hub for instance would be great.  Layout similar to music hub just populates with news apps instead.
  • THIS!  THIS AND THIS!!!!! 
    DING! DING! DING! We have a WINNER!
  • windows 8 has no folders, so why should windows phone 8 have it? If Microsoft implement semantic zoom then there is no need for folders.
  • I think a more useful concept would be different ways to sort through the App List. If the current alphabetical list could be re-sorted using the app metadata by genre (game, sports, news, weather, etc.), by usage frequency, etc. 
  • Love this idea! Some way of reorganizing or grouping apps in the applist would be awesome. I don't care at all about folders in the start screen. I have the homebrew folders and all they do is make me keep stuff on my start screen that I wouldn't normally keep there. I like the organization, but I would prefer it in the app list than on start.
  • Agree
  • Lol I basically just said this exact thing a few posts up. Then I scrolled down and saw your comment haha
  • I have the home-brew app on my Focus. Its actually useful in that it cuts down on the scrolling to the app you want (and I have a sh!t load of apps). But like most stuff, I got bored with it and just went back to having my wall of apps. I don't know if I will use it again. I don't know if I'd even use it all the time if it were a baked in feature. But like Dave Blake said, it doesn't hurt to have the option
  • Same here I have it on my focus, used it once, then back to wall of app
  • For me it works great without folders. What I think is needed is a notification history, I've seen it mentioned somewhere before. From the start screen swip to the left and see the notification history.
  • I feel Microsoft should update some UI design elements for WP8 while still keeping it Metro. They can tighten up the design without adding any chrome. Folders would be a nice option to have in case you want to use it. I tend to forget about many of the apps NOT in my start screen, and end up rarely, if ever, using them.
  • I prefer the solution presented in the forums, I think. Similar to the current xbox360 set up, we should be able to swipe left and right to get to new start screens of apps. Or maybe swipe to the left can go to more "start" screens that we can name and group apps in while swipe to the right can still go to the app list.
    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.
  • The problem with your idea is then it simply becomes iOS. Almost identical functionally except with a different font. You need to differentiate yourself from the competition not copy them (cough cough android)
  • Folders are unnecessary in WP7 with the app list. I fear people will vote the feature up and muddle the OS.
  • I dont get wh you would fear anything especially folders.  Just like in iOS, the folders are OPTIONAL...  I didnt have to use Folders, i chose to use folders. 
    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...
  • Agreed. Don't like it, don't use it. But give us the choice
  • Not a fan of folders. One of my fears about WP, is that MS starts to give in to old timers afraid of new paradigms. They need to be strong and deal with ppl stuck on the last decade or even the 90s.
  • And what constitutes an old timer, lol?
  • People that want folders.
  • Nothing to do with age...
  • I want Nokia to bring its Situations app to Windows Phone and give us the ability to swap out entire Start Screens depending on the time of day or what geofence we are in.
  • I see no need for folders, really. Apps are already pretty easy to find.
  • I dont see the need for folders... an App HUB to put all my News Apps or miscellaneous apps would be ok... or just a way to group apps kind of like how Win8 does
  • I would love this, i should look into the FOlders app made by windowsphonehacker. where you can group up to four apps into one folder. 
    That app was nice. 
    Nokia, look into screenshot apps too!
  • Yes,please
  • Well, maybe Folders is the wrong term to use. Would shortcuts sound better. Probably not. With 40 or 50 apps, and 10 that you use often, guess I wouldn't need folders either. But with 150+ apps and 30 I use often, with another 30 I use often enough, folders come in handy.
    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.
  • There was concept art of WP7 folders from a member of the team that leaked on PocketNow a while back which I really liked. It basically just unfurled a bunch of live tiles on the start screen when you clicked on it.
  • I feel that folders are so old school, and 1990's. All the other smart phones use folders, and let's face it WP is not your average phone.
    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.
  • Folders!! Yes!!!... And no one is saying we are losing the hubs.. So hubs and folder option would be great. Lots of people are used to that
  • Folders are so yesterday and not Metro, there are better ways to organize data. I like the idea of custom hubs but if you could tie them to a filter that uses meta data it could even do it automatically.
  • Folders for applications and programs are the signs of a backward platform. In that regard, all current desktop and mobile Os's use this feature and therefore is backward.
    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.
  • The tag system sounds good.
  • For the love of all things please get this feature to WP7!!!!
  • Custom hubs instead of folders please. Otherwise, it ruins the UI.
  • God no. Coming from iOS I never want to see a folder again. They're only needed if the underlying OS is disorganised and cluttered. I couldn't find any app on my iPhone that wasn't on the front page without using spotlight search. I love that windows phone forces alphabetical order outside of the start screen, I can find everything easily.
  • Would really love folders. When you have so many apps, even the alphabet selector isn't enough. Gotta be a way to group apps into tiles or something. Like you create a tile called "My news" on the start menu and then you can add all your news apps into it. Then when you click on My News on the start menu, the start menu behind is greyed out and all the apps (in tile form) you added come out of the folder tile and overlay the screen.
  • Oh, hell yes.
  • They should make this optional for the interested user. I wonder tho if an overloaded home screen would suffer lag???
  • That would be a great idea if you have the option to create folders with notification indicator on it also. :-P
  • Folders, hubs... I just want a way to group and organize my apps.
  • So, after more than a whole Year has passed, are there any News on this? I've got the Lumia 920 and I really need Folders for my Apps.
    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.