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Missing features that I'd like to see added to Windows Phones

Over the last week and a half, I have been living in a dual OS world where I carry both my trusty Nexus 5, and my recently acquired Nokia Lumia 822 as daily drivers.   Both phones are running the latest OS versions offered by their respective manufacturers without carrier interference.  Admittedly, Windows phone has grown on me, but compared to both my Android and even iOS devices, there are some baffling things missing especially considering that this is an OS from Microsoft aimed at both business and casual users.

I understand that some of these features may be added in a future update, perhaps most of them will be added when Windows Phone and Windows RT are merged in the near future, but, at the moment these features are not in any current version of the OS provided to end users or even developers. 

1. Mouse and Keyboard support.

When I think about Windows, one of the first things that comes to mind is getting work done.  Sure, Windows is also a full fledged gaming platform these days, but sometimes you just have to get work done.  So when I connected my various bluetooth keyboards and mice, and then found out the hard way that they did not work even though they detected and paired just fine, I was highly disappointed.  Microsoft Office is a program/app that just works best with a keyboard and mouse combo, especially if you are using it for work.  Touch is fine in a pinch, but real work absolutely needs peripheral support. Which leads to our next missing item.


2. Hard drive support

Since windows phone has a file system these days, I attached my USB OTG cable to plug in both a thumb drive and (not at the same time) a portable hard drive with neither device being detected by the OS.  Rationalizing that it may have been an issue where the port just couldn't provide enough voltage to actually power the drives , I tried a self powered hard drive, and still... nothing.  Highly disappointing, to say the least.

At least there is support for Micro SD cards.

3. Joystick Support

Microsoft is the company behind both the Windows gaming platform and the Xbox consoles.  One could come to the conclusion that the Xbox controller should work, even if it needs some kind of dongle like the PC.  Unfortunately, the Xbox 360 controller not work with Windows Phone.  I connected USB controllers via my OTG cable, and that had no effect.  Not one to easily give up, I also paired my iCade and bluetooth gamepads via bluetooth, and while they detected fine, they had no effect in either the OS or any apps. 

Not being a person that easily gives up, I loaded up some "universal" Windows apps such as Mini Motor Racing and Radiant.  Both of these games natively support the Xbox 360 controller when installed on Windows 8, but when running them on Windows phone, you'll have to be content using touch controls. 

Some emulators do have support for the MOGA controller if the developer has added support for it, but it is not an OS level feature.  Moga specifically created code to allow the limited compatibility.

Let's face it, while some games are great with touch controls, there are just as many that need physical controls to provide a full experience. 

Support for the 360 controller should have been baked in from day one. 

4.  Snap/Split screen view

When you name something "Windows" then I expect some kind of "Windowed" environment.  Given the limitations of small screens is one thing, but with 1080p and higher screens becoming the norm, I don't know why this feature has not been implemented.  Even more puzzling is that Microsoft debuted their Windows RT platform with this feature.

If you look at a device like the Lumia 1520, it's just screaming for "snap view" multi-window support.  Microsoft, take a look at Samsung's popular Galaxy Note phones.  Why have you not jumped into this market yet?

Let me take notes while I watch this video

5. Pressure sensitive wacom "stylus" support

Both casual and business minded users would appreciate this technology.  Especially considering that Microsoft distributes OneNote for various platforms.  As stated earlier, this would make sense on the Lumia 1520 (and successors) with its high res, 6 inch screen. 

Microsoft would be wise to "borrow" this feature from the Galaxy Note line.

5. Uploading my own music to the cloud

To put it simply, and bluntly, I miss the functionality that Google Music or even Amazon provides by allowing their customers to upload their own music to the cloud for streaming.  Considering that Microsoft is touting their cloud services as a competitor to Google and Amazon, this is a no-brainer. 

If Amazon and Google provide this service, then Microsoft needs to remain competitive and offer their own solution.

6. Support for true third party browsers

The Windows desktop, and even the old Windows Mobile operating system support third party browsers.  This is a feature that also needs to be on Windows Phone.  Personally, I'd like the option to see Opera, Firefox, and other alternatives in the Windows store available for download.  Admittedly, Internet explorer has gotten better, however, some mobile competition may speed up development.  This would be a win for everyone involved. 

We've come a long way, but not all changes are for the better. 

7. HDMI Out

Reports say that there will be wireless display added to Windows Phone soon, and I look forward to it.   Wireless displays will eventually be the future, the problem is that today, it sucks for anything other than slideshows and basic presentations.  If your connection is not up to par that day, you have interference, or like to game, then a wireless display will not suffice.  

Sometimes one needs a solid, physical connection to get things done. It's the only way to avoid pixelation and lag when attempting to do anything other than viewing slide shows. 

8. HDR Camera Mode

With Microsoft and Nokia (now the same company after Microsoft purchased them) heavily advertising the advantages of having a powerful camera built into your phone, I was quite surprised that the stock Windows phone camera app does not have an HDR option.  With both iOS and Android including this feature as a native part of the stock camera apps, one has to wonder how this has slipped by Microsoft for years.

The Lumia phones have won the megapixel race by a landslide, now it's time for Microsoft to work on the software aspect of things.


While many others continue to gripe about the app gap, this article is not about that particular issue.  This is about OS level improvements that need to be added for Windows phone to compete.  Both iOS and Android either have all of these features, or most of them in one form or another.   To be fair, Microsoft has added features are breakneck speed over the last year, but there is still work to be done, and I would love to see more competition in the mobile market.

What do you think? If you have your own questions or comments, then feel free to post them in the comment section.

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