Windows Phone 7 WILL have MicroSD support (and other tidbits from the UI Guide)

As part of the Windows Phone 7 beta, the UI Design and Interaction Guide for Windows Phone 7 2.0 was released this week. This is a document that contains Microsoft’s user interface guidelines for developers when creating their apps for Windows Phone 7. It also details many of the built-in UI elements and features of WP7, and whether or not developers can interact with these elements and features within their applications.

This document would be otherwise nondescript if it weren’t for a couple of newsworthy items I’ve found while perusing it. Here are a couple of UI and feature notes we might not have heard before:

  • Start is always presented in portrait view.
  • There are 2 background colors (curiously denoted as ‘dark or light’ instead of ‘black and white’)
  • There are 10 accent colors: magenta, purple, teal, lime, brown, pink, orange, blue, red and green, plus one more color that hardware manufacturers or networks can add.
  • This makes for a maximum of 22 theme choices, counting the custom theme from manufacturers/networks.
  • The default theme is ‘dark on blue’, but manufacturers/networks can override this.
  • Microsoft recommends against using a white background because of the impact on battery life for devices that have OLED screens.
  • Hardware keyboards may not have a D-pad. They may have arrow keys that can change the position of the cursor, but this cannot be used to scroll or ‘move focus’ (i.e. tab). They also prohibit “any other navigation specific hardware”, which I take to mean no mouse support.
  • Developers have access to the FM radio tuner. Here’s to hoping we get an FM recording app!
  • Windows Phone 7 has no built-in handwriting recognition. There goes 10 years worth of Windows Mobile handwriting support!
  • “Microsoft will provide a control and design template to support building Panoramas at a later date.” So there you go, it’s coming.
  • Much like its Windows Vista/Windows 7 API, Microsoft includes text guidelines for its UI emphasizing correct capitalization, punctuation, and tone/voice. Get ready to go back to grammar school! Microsoft wants you to be “friendly” and not “angry” or “mechanical”. Reminds me of when Windows used to warn you of an “illegal operation”. The cops are coming!

And now for the biggest revelation of all in this UI guide. On the last page of this guide is a page titled ‘Miscellaneous’ saying:

“Windows Phone 7 has other hardware features available not previously mentioned, including:

  • Bluetooth
  • Camera flash
  • Camera LED
  • Micro SD
  • Micro USB
  • Wi-fi

All of these features have no direct UI components and developers will need to create custom UI elements if they need to represent them within their application” (emphasis mine)

It is possible that this is an erroneous statement, or that this is part of Microsoft’s future plans for WP7, and someone forgot to remove this mention. After all, if you take a look at the document you’ll see it wasn’t properly edited for wording (i.e. a couple of instances of “Windows Phone OS 7.0”). Indeed, the bottom of every page includes a disclaimer that “This is pre-release documentation and is subject to change in future releases”. Still, perhaps things have changed since Barcelona in February, and we might see MicroSD support in the OS at launch after all. With the leaked Dell Lightning having a MicroSD slot, this is beginning to be not so far fetched…

Read more at the Windows Team Blog here.

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