I’m continuing my series on moving from iPhone to Windows Phone. In the last post I discussed the Microsoft Marketplace, the apps available and my list of recommended apps. In this post I’m going to talk about customizing and personalizing my Windows Phone. I’m not trying to replace any existing tutorials so if that’s what you want, look here:
- You can find very good Nokia Lumia 900 tutorials from AT&T here.
- You and find official Windows Phone tutorials here.
The phone and the interface are easy to use, so I wanted to focus on three things, one I had to think about (Organizing the start screen), one I had to work harder at than I should have (importing my ringtones) and one that was so surprisingly cool that I put a lot of effort into making it cooler (the People app). In this article I’ll talk about the Start Screen.
Unlike the iPhone that uses page after page of icons, or icon groups access via side scrolling, Windows Phone has a single start screen that scrolls up and down as far as you want. You can pin
anything you want to your start screen such as apps, a video, or a contact. Anything you want to access frequently, so you have to think about what you really want or need to access the most. But there’s another consideration, you’re not just adding app icons, you’re adding live tiles. Live tiles actively show information from their data sources. For example, the People app displays pictures from your contacts, and the CNN app displays pictures of the top story from the CNN feed. So you also might want to think about what you want to see at a glance, and which apps provide better, cooler, funner live tiles. Finally you need to think about how to organize them. Since the start screen is one large, scrolling list, you wan to put tiles close to each other that make sense. Here’s how I did it.
I only added live tiles for apps I use every day. Organizing live tiles
is easy, my tip for the day is when you’re dragging live tiles around, drag up or down in the center of the two tile columns. If you drag on the left or right side of the screen, the phone tries to anticipate where you want to drop the tile and moves things around.
I organized my home screen in informal groups. For me, I considered a group to be a set of tiles that can be viewed together on the screen at once. For the top of my start screen I put my Calendar where I’m reminded of upcoming appointments, followed by the Phone, People, Office (specifically for OneNote because OneNote rocks), Outlook then Messaging (for text messages) and Lync (for business IM). Basically anything that chirps, chimes, buzzes or otherwise annoys me throughout the day (with the exception of the people tile which is just kind of fun to watch).
I should note that there is a camera app, but my phone has a separate button that activates the camera so I use that and don’t have the camera app pinned to the start screen.
My next group was apps I frequently use, Internet Explorer, Twitter, Nokia Drive (turn-by-turn directions), Spotify, GasBuddy, and Yelp. After that were Alarms, Stopwatch, Calculator and Flashlight-X. Following that was page of my Internet apps I use when surfing for leisure like Break.com, Facebook, YouTube, and so forth.
At the bottom of my start screen I’ve put weather and the marketplace tile. Stuff I use consistently, but not quite as much as the others.
The system has worked quite well for me. I’ve zeroed in my swipe strength and can get to either my frequently used apps or my surfing apps with a single swipe. I’m very happy with the information that is made available both on live tiles and on the lock screen. I’ll talk more about that in later post.
For my next post I’ll talk about the two other customizations I spent a lot of time one, importing ringtones and setting up my contacts.
In the meantime I thought I would pass along the sites we find have a lot of great tips and tricks for Windows Phone: