1.Starting with Start
a PC, you’d call it the desktop. On other smartphones, it’s the home
screen. But when you power up Windows Phone 7 for the first time, the
place you find yourself after setting up is Start.
The Start screen is many
things: It’s a launch pad for apps; a source of news and information; a
gallery of shortcuts to favorite contacts, pictures, and other
important things. Start is the center of the Windows Phone 7 universe,
so important there’s even a dedicated button on your phone (the Start button, naturally) to instantly whisk you there from anywhere on the phone.
Notice how lively the
Start screen looks compared to other phones. In place of static rows of
icons, you’ll see stacked colored blocks. Microsoft calls them Live tiles.
Think of them like tiny animated billboards. Some flash your tally of
missed calls and messages, or the details of upcoming appointments.
Others are purely for entertainment. The Games tile, for instance,
shows your bobbing Xbox avatar. The Pictures tile displays a favorite
photo, while the faces of your contacts pop up on People.
1.1. Personalize Your Phone
made the Start screen easy to personalize. You can push tiles around
with your finger, pin new tiles to Start, or decorate them different
colors. Windows Phone has two background themes—light and dark—and 10
different accent colors to choose from. If you grow tired of a tile,
it’s easy to remove it.
1.2. See All Your Apps
The Start screen has a hidden side. Swipe left on the screen, or tap the arrow on the top right, and you’ll see the Apps list,
an A-to-Z catalog of the programs installed on your phone—or, I should
say, most of the programs. There’s one important exception: games. Any
game you install shows up only in the Games hub. For anything else,
2. Saying Hello to Hubs
smartphone makers today face the same essential quandary: How do you
cram enough information on a phone’s tiny screen? Live tiles are one
creative solution. But Microsoft designers didn’t stop there. In
Windows Phone 7, they introduced a new organizational concept called hubs.
Hubs are horizontal
panoramas of related information. Only a slice of the hub is visible at
any one moment, but it’s easy to see the rest—simply swipe your finger
left or right on the screen to pan across.
Hubs make it easier to show
lots of useful info without resorting to tapping open multiple apps.
The People hub, for example, packages together an address book, a list
of recent contacts, and an up-to-date feed from Facebook and Windows
Live—all within three quick flicks of each other. People is one of six
hubs on the phone. The others are:
Music + Videos
3. The Lock Screen
The lock screen
appears automatically if you don’t touch your phone’s screen for a
short period (the default is one minute, but you can easily change it).
Its main purpose is to protect you from doing something embarrassing,
like pocket-dialing someone as you walk down the street. Think of it
like a cover sheet for your phone. When the lock screen is visible,
your touch-sensitive screen no longer responds to random poking.
Getting past the lock screen requires you to swipe your finger. If you
turn on your phone’s password-protection feature, you have to swipe and
then tap in your secret four-digit code.
But the lock screen is
helpful in other ways, too. It shows the time and date; your next
calendar appointment; the number of missed calls, e-mails, or texts;
and whether you’ve set an alarm. It’s also designed for fun. For
example, turn it into a portable picture frame by replacing the
background image, or wallpaper, with a photo from your on-camera collection.
4. Pushing Buttons
Windows Phone 7, no matter which company makes it, comes with a basic
set of buttons designed to save time and make life easier.
As you hop around from app
to app and hub to hub, Windows Phone keeps track of your travels. The
Back button helps you retrace your steps (think of the Back button on a
web browser). Pressing Back returns you to whatever you were looking at
last, eventually taking you all the way back to Start.
Back also serves as a means to cancel or escape. Press it to exit a menu or cancel out of a dialog box.
The Start button does two
things. Tapping it (as you might expect) immediately transports you
back to the Start screen, no matter where you are or what you’re doing
on the phone. Pressing and holding the button for a few moments
activates the phone’s speech recognition feature.
The Search button make it
easier to find stuff on or off your phone. As you’ll quickly discover,
the button is context-sensitive: What it looks for depends on what
you’re doing when you press it.
|To find||Press the Search button from|
|Something on the Web||Start, Internet Explorer |
|An e-mail||An e-mail account |
|A place or address||Maps |
|A contact||People |
|A new app||Marketplace|
|A call||Call History|
not one of the Big Three, but the Camera button is special nonetheless,
and it does something that sets it apart from other smartphones out
there: It lets you take a picture fast, even if the phone is asleep or
locked. Just hold the button down and count to three. Boom—you’re ready
to snap away.
By making the phone’s
built-in speaker louder or softer, the volume buttons do what you
probably expect. But they also do something you probably don’t: Expose
a hidden audio menu. The volume bar shows the current loudness and
ringer settings. You can tap the Ring icon to toggle between vibrate
and silent modes. If you’re playing music or listening to a podcast,
you’ll also see a set of basic playback controls.