Mango Navigation Improvements Detailed…

The Windows Phone team has done it again. Heading to their blog for the second time this week to detail more Mango features and functions and since we are greatly in anticipation of Mango’s release, this is definitely welcome. Most of the features discussed on the official blog are features which we are already aware of, but what I find interesting is hearing from the different teams on why they made certain design decisions and what obstacles they were attempting to overcome. This post was written by Rachel Jiang, program manager for Windows Phone Engineering.

Finding apps faster – Tapping a header in the People Hub today opens the quick jump menu (left), which can whisk you to a specific section of your contacts list. In Mango (right), we’re adding the same feature and a search option to the App list.

One possibility we explored was ordering apps by how recently or frequently they’re used. While useful, this solution can prove disorienting and confusing, since app order is constantly changing. An App list organized by frequency would probably also look similar to your Start screen, where most people pin the apps that they care about most.

We also wanted the App list to feel consistent with other lists on the phone, like contacts. In the People Hub we use search and a quick jump menuto help you find contacts quickly. Ultimately, we decided that approach was the best solution for the App list, too.

Although there is one slight difference. When implementing the quick jump option, we wanted to balance function with aesthetics. If you don’t own many apps, the feature doesn’t make much sense, since the alphabet headers artificially lengthen the App list, creating gaps that make it feel sparse and unappealing. Hence, you’ll only see the headers when you have installed at least 45 apps.

There is also an application search option which can be used by pressing the new search software button, which also brings up a “Search marketplace” option for apps you do not have currently installed.

Easier Multitasking – In Mango, pressing and holding the Back button on your phone calls up the task switcher, which makes it easy to quickly pick up where you left off.

We believe the best way for someone to navigate between tasks is literally by showing them where they left off. Whether it’s a half-composed email, a game in progress, or the last photo you saw, you can return to it easily in Mango by pressing and holding the Back button.

The caveat noted with the card view task-switcher is that the phone will only display five cards at a time. The Windows Phone team believes, “Having only a small number of cards ensures that the task switcher is predictable”, thus easier to use.

These are all navigation changes we’ve known were coming in Mango, but its great to hear about some of the thought behind the UI decisions. Head on over to the official Windows Phone Blog for the entire post.

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