Editorial: WP7 and Multitasking: What ever happened to this?

If you're a die-hard Windows Phone/Mobile fan, or simply someone who likes keeping up to date with smartphone trends, you've probably seen the video above. It's been shown around the site a couple times, and its philosophy is a personal favorite of some of our editors. If you haven't seen it, allow us to refresh you. The video was shown at Mobile World Congress in 2010, during the time that Windows Phone 7 [Series, at the time] was first being shown. At this time, everything was up in the air about whether third-party apps would exist, how to develop them, and everything else. Those were early days, and days where the secrets of the platform were left to one's imagination.

Jump forward 11 months, and here we are. The video plays a parody on the in-and-out experience of most platforms of the time, requiring users to hop in and out of applications to perform tasks on their phones. The narrator of the video jokingly states "Don't get us wrong, we love apps. But current smartphones make you use them one at a time: In, and out, and on to the next app." This, of course, refers to the experience of having to switch between apps to accomplish simple tasks, and serves as an intro for the idea of integrated hubs.

But wait, isn't this experience exactly the same on Windows Phone 7? Obviously, Microsoft has done what they can to integrate common tasks into hubs, and we think they've done a good job. But when the video is looked at from a multitasking point of view, it's almost hypocritical. On Windows Phone 7, you currently have to open an app, do your task, go back home, open another, finish that task, and navigate back. In, and out, and on to the next. And while having a dedicated back option is good, being forced to jump to home with no fast app switching makes the back button near useless. And don't get us started on copy-and-paste, which will hopefully ease some frustration by next update.

The point is, while Windows Phone 7 is indeed different with its integrated hubs and easy to access information, it still falls short on the exact message of this video, broadcasted to the world as early as February 2010. Load in app, go in, go out, go on to the next. Even though multitasking is seen as inefficient, such an implementation is not a core essential to solving this problem. The true solution, rather, lies in something as simple as a recent applications list, available on any screen. With a dedicated back button, a long-press option for further history would seem like a no-brainer, but we digress. Without a easy way to jump between applications and communicate their information (such as copy-and-paste), Windows Phone 7 fits the description of its own promotional video near verbatim.

While the focus of the video may have centered on the idea of integrated hubs, which clearly sets Windows Phone 7 apart, the platform is still guilty of the app experience they demonstrated so symbolically. With no clear way of switching between application one and application two without rerouting to home, Windows Phone 7 literally fits this example: having to go in, and out, and on to the next. What ever happened to the idea shown here?

[Editorials reflect the views of their authors and not the views of WP7C as a whole.]

Source: (WP7Central)

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