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Fan concept II: What if Windows Phone had folders?

Yesterday we ran a story on a fan concept that gave the ability to shrink down the program tiles on the Windows Phone Start screen. The post turned out to be wildly popular, with over 80 comments from you folks where you actively (and cordially) debated and discussed the merits of such a proposed UI. Very impressive and some great ideas too.

Today, we have a follow up to that, asking the question "What if Windows Phone had folders?'. This was the route taken by Apple and their iOS as a means to organize programs. While Windows Phone has a "jump list", it's the Start menu where users can customize and organize. It's that latter part where we've seen users create iconic separators to help better tidy up.

WPCentral member Sebastien "ArtSooby" Bruneau has posted up a few shots of what he thinks would work, namely those folders. His idea is take off of the current People Tile, where you have little photos flashing around of your contacts. But instead he envisions having a "Folder tile" with the apps inside flashing in the same manner. Once again, an elegant idea as it is keeping within the bounds of Metro's design principles. We could imagine that tapping on a folder tile will expand to show it's contents, allowing a quick selection (we'll leave the mechanics to Microsoft, ahem).

In the image above and to the left, you can see a tile called "News". In the second image, how a second menu option can be added called "Pin to folder' from the jump menu and finally in the third shot (the right), we can see how they would populate the "News folder". Looks good to us.

So like yesterday...sound off in comments on why/why not this would be a good solution!

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Reader comments

Fan concept II: What if Windows Phone had folders?

33 Comments

I think I prefer the tile size option. Never was a fan of the IOS folders as they were limited in function and it was difficult to see what was in each folder.I hope MS implement the size idea of the tiles, as it make for an interesting main page

so wait, there's a weather hub? There's an education hub? I think folders and a notification center type idea would be awesome if done correctly

MS actually said in a comment on one of there blogs months ago they were looking at folders for the app list but it wouldnt make it into Mango so maybe we will see something in Apollo.

I dont like the folder idea.The shining star of the start screen on WP7 is the Live Tiles. With small or grouped icons you lose that function. The start screen should be dedicated to be able to give you live tiles. Otherwise you destroy the glanse and go concept of metro.Groups (if they should be any) should be kept in the app list. I can imagine that Application groups could be a top list thing in the application list - or even better...Why not making grouping of apps be a swipable thing. So each group gets like its own list going right from the app list. So the whole start thing gets into an hub with several hub lists for different user configured groups. Fits better into the Metro UI i think.

I say just like in Mango with groups appearing at the top of the people hub and then the a-z listing. On the app list, have the apps naturally grouped by the app category in the marketplace at the top of the list and then a-z list of apps.

i dont like this. it makes WP7 more like a "grid of icons" inside a "grid of icons" which is what windows desktop and iOS and macOS are. WP7 is the future, not the past

Haha!I'm sure I'm in the minority, but I'd rather Microsoft wait until there was a massive demand from users to implement a way to manage a lengthening home screen than just to drop a old paradigm into a new UI. As it is now, I like keeping my home screen to just enough tiles that I can get from one end to the home screen to the other in one swipe. It makes it much easier to get to the apps I want.The implementation here isn't bad, though it should really inherit the behavior of the People Hub in Mango.

....this is what I had suggested yesterday, a tile which you can name as you like and group apps into it. When activating the tile, it shows you the apps and you can swipe to the app you want to open. For instance I have appr 5 news readers dispersed all over the app list. Today I have to scroll up and down the list of appr. 100 apps to find the right reader. With a "News" tile, I could have access immediately to the reader I want.... Apparently, Mango will allow the app list selection by alphabetic search. However this will be not so fast and comfortable like grouping apps in a tile...

I think the best idea would be to just have custom hubs and their live tiles surfaces to the hub tile in a cycle, much like how it does for contacts in groups

But WP7 ALREADY HAS folders... They're called Hubs. All related apps group themselves in the relevant hub: all music+video apps in the music+video hub, games apps, office apps, and soon photo apps.The hubs bring also integration between the app and the function, i.e. you are playing a song, then go to the music hub and select the lyrics app and it'll launch the lyrics of the song playing. Maybe we could have a News Hub, and hubs for each category of app.

I agree, there is no need for folders per se. Folks, like I said yesterday this is a solution looking for a problem. It takes me 1 second to scroll through 27 tiles on the home screen, how fast do you really need it? I'm sure by the time Windows Phone 8 arrives Microsoft will have something brilliantly implemented, until then, I'm a very happy camper with Mango!

The problem here is that I don't have a way to create a hub for my own category (at least none that I know of). For example I would like to have quick access to all of my GPS related apps rather than having them scattered all over the app page. Every now and then I don't remember the name of an app that I may use infrequently. Having a way to categorize would solve this.At this point I really don't care how it's done. I just want to be able to categorize my apps in a way it will make them easier to find and access.

What if there was an Option for Windows Phone to dynamically move the most used apps on your start screen to the top? This would also all you to see what apps that are on your start screen that you never us and remove them from our start screen. Just a thought.

...I personally wouldn't like this idea. I have my screen organised in such a way that I can find the tile I want almost without looking. I know that the first tile on the upper left is the phone function and the tile on the upper right is for contacts and so on...

Folders are STUPID. I mean, seriously. Folders are the old-school way of congregating applications---hubs hand integration much more intelligently. And, frankly I'M SICK AND TIRED of people insisting WP7 become more like Android or iOS. Ya know what? If you guys like the way those platforms work so much, leave WP7 alone and switch to one of the other platforms. Quit trying to degrade WP7 into that ****

I think folders doesn't make a lot of sense. It's old school thinking and doesn't flow with the new ideas that Metro brings. As others above said, Hubs are where MS is bringing ideas to the forefront. That does bring up an interesting idea though... What if you could create your own hub, and pull content from different apps into a single section? For example, you create a hub with WPCentral and USA Today. It then displays a mix of content between the two. Obviously MS would need to write APIs for this, and apps would have to be enabled to work with those APIs, but it would then keep with the clean concept of combining multiple content streams together, and keeping away from the old-school icons and folder metality. MS would have to define types of hubs most likely, i.e. news, weather, etc.. where like content could be grouped. Grouping 2 games together would not make a lot of sense, just as grouping weather and WPCentral together would not, as the information doesn't combine together well. That's where there would have to be pre-defined types of contents that apps could be "hubbed" into for this to really work.

So what you are suggesting is that folders be taken to a new level. Folders go bye bye and hubs stay. I really like the idea. But what about games. Could hubs for document folders? It seems like to much work to write all the API's if you are just storing documents in a folder. Really Good idea! :)

I think the Games Hub will be expanded to include all of the content we will want as they implement some form of multiplayer for games, be it live multiplayer, or turn/role based multiplayer. Now, I could see more leaderboards and things like that rolled into a single view. I think the documents folder really is part of the Office hub. There's no reason that it could not be re-worked to show all documents merged together into a larger view to allow for easier visibility.

I love the tile size and i love the Folders!!well folder/HUBS/2ndpage?! I dunno what the problem with having an organized Phone is but this would for sure help!!Maybe have a Folder link to a Other UI ( same as main one but just a second Page . meaning if you click on folder it simply opens up page 2.( that way you can have 2 limits of 20some tiles) for does that download EVERY SINGLE app (like me) this could be good.or have it open up a XBOX live style HUB where all your games are organize , but for apps instead.so that way the lazy devs dont need to make 10 different icons.(size)

Hubs are the perfect folder and infinitely more useful. They slice and dice content and then perfectly present what you are looking for. This is the Windows Phone way folks, and we need to embrace it, not try to recreate what we so desperately wanted to move away from in iOS and Android!

Between the two options presented, I would prefer that multi-sized tiles be available on the Start Screen. While some have argued that it breaks with the WP7 live tile paradigm, I think it is a more natural alternative than folders would be. The half size tiles would still allow enough space for live info to be displayed however developers would need to create various states for their tiles depending upon what size the user chose to display them at. I would find it particularly helpful for showing my various email accounts so I could see where I have new messages but take up half the space on screen.I think that the quarter size tiles would mostly be useful for static icons that don't display live info. Otherwise the only way I see having them report status that would work decently would be through feedback like color changes. For instance if you had your Facebook tile made quarter size and received a message the blue background would simply turn red as opposed to trying to display a tiny red circle with the number of notifications... things like that would be doable.In any case, think it could be made to work but it would take some rethinking on the part of developers, and well... users. Some people may like it, others may not. I think giving people the ability to make relatively minor interface customizations would be helpful so long as it is kept within reason. We don't want things to get too complicated. After all, a big part of the beauty of WP7 is in its simplicity.On a side note, ArtSooby could have at least tried to match the text's font size and location to what is used on other tiles... especially if this mock-up was supposed to be based off the People's Tile. It just looks bizarre having a big "News" up at the top of a tile like that.

Hubs are little more than folders with select information exposed.For example, the tile for a news hub/folder could cycle through all the tile notifications each app would normally send to their respective tiles. Etc. for each kind of hub.Done like this, no API changes are really needed, and users can make hubs of their own choosing. And, more importantly, this would allow users to aggregate data from different kinds of apps into a single hub, handy for many kinds of projects.For example, if I will be taking a trip sometime soon, I might want to create a hub for that destination that combines news, weather, and Twitter feeds from current visitors.

thats exacly what they should do , and most likely what they are going to do.! specially if we have the option to customize our own folder/HUB

I think you should be able to create your own hubs that would file the information down much like the peoples hub does with facebook. For instance you make a news hub that will file through all the news you have from each news app you have and show it in a way like the peoples hub. Another sorta farfetched idea i have is a swipe to the left will show recent and most used apps straight from the start screen that will dynamically change due to your app and game usage.

Even if they did make "folders" not hubs i would rather have you tap on it and the three four or five nearby tiles flip over into the apps you have in the folder.

this is gona help us Deal with all does dev SPAMING 200 apps that do the SAME thing but link to diffrent sites. Alow Spam , allow folders to deal with spam!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH