Windows 10 Mobile review: A solid upgrade, but not shiny enough
Windows 10 Mobile review: Unified look and feel
With Microsoft even merging the names of the desktop and mobile operating systems, the aim is to unify the two platforms so there’s consistency across them. That clearly has benefits for users, particularly smartphone newbies, with the familiar look and feel making the transition from desktop to mobile much easier than with other platforms.
But Microsoft’s ambitions reach further and deeper than this. It wants developers to produce “Universal apps” that share the same UI and feature set across the two platforms.
There aren’t many of these third-party apps available just yet, but as you navigate the OS, you’ll pick up hints and echoes of Windows 10 everywhere you look.
There’s the homescreen, which reflects the style of the desktop Start menu. The notifications menu is in the same style, too. More significantly, perhaps, this synchronises with your desktop Windows, so when you dismiss a notification on your phone, it also disappears from your laptop. Neat.
The Settings menu looks identical across desktop and mobile (at least on the surface), with each entry now accompanied by a wireframe icon and fonts that match those used in Windows 10 on the desktop. Again, though, the changes are more than skin deep. Microsoft has also rationalised and organised the list of items in the Settings menu and – at long, long last – added a search field.
As a result, it’s now easier to find important settings and features on your Windows 10 smartphone, although you’ll still be left scratching your head about some of Microsoft’s decisions. Why on earth are the Glance screen settings under Extras, and not Display? For that matter, why are the lockscreen settings under personalisation? It’s baffling to say the least.
The redesign of the core apps is the key indicator of how Windows 10 Mobile is unifying the worlds of desktop and mobile. All of the core apps – from the Office apps to Microsoft Edge browser, Calendar, Mail and so on – share the layout and UI of the equivalent app on Windows 10 for desktop. And, by and large, they all work pretty well. I’m not a big fan of the menu that pops up from the bottom of the screen and replicates the desktop Ribbon interface, but this is no deal breaker.
Cortana also shares the desktop app’s look and feel, as well as its extended functions – such as the ability to send text messages and emails by voice. However, Cortana is infuriatingly inconsistent in its voice recognition accuracy and nowhere near as competent as Google Now.