Apps list on Windows Phone: There is a tile for everything (almost):
First thing you notice on Windows phone is list mode for apps display. While its been an option on even Nokia phones, but I don’t think majority of people used that option ever. Android\ iOS\ Bada\ MeeGo\ Symbian mostly been displaying apps in a grid format and may be that was a reason that Microsoft Team thought to come up with a differentiation or might be a text driven UI had almost no choice but going for a list mode for displaying the names.
The difference of approach leads a situation that Windows Phone can display at most 10 apps at once while my Samsung Galaxy S or any other phone could have done 20-25 apps easily by grid mode. Obviously, Microsoft Team was needed to think of a solution to easily navigate through these many apps, because kinetic scrolling might be as fast as possible but still its irritating to scroll multiple times to find an app starting with any letter X or Z. Commonly used option was a search function (that is here on Windows Phone as well), but that too was going to wait for user input defying the concept of inherent simplicity of Windows Phone Metro UI.
The solution implemented by them was something I call jump navigation (couldn’t find the exact term) that is actually much simpler than the terminology. It works naturally like you search things by first letter of their names in a dictionary and then take a glance for next match.
Metro UI leaves alphabet pointers between the apps, tapping on which leads to a single screen with all the alphabets from A to Z and an additional # for the rest like numerics etc, highlights the alphabets if apps available with the names and finally tapping on individual alphabet jumps to list of app starting with that alphabet (I hope pictures clear it more easily).
Holding the finger on any of the app\settings for long bring a context Menu listing three of the options usually
1. pin to start
2. rate and review
Native apps won’t have one or both of the last two options and pin to start will be grayed out for any of the app already floating as a tile. Obviously, you wont be able to change the order/position of the app in the list and it will remain sorted as per their first letter neither you can change the name of app.
rate and review option that is a core part of Metro UI takes you to respective marketplace of the same app and a nice initiative from Microsoft to allow users to rate and promote the apps. It should definitely catch the eyes of developers and might be a good foundation for the evolving ecosystem as of now.