I’ve now been using my Windows Phone 7 as my main phone device. And I’m definitely liking it. Out of the box, it is pretty darned intuitive and user friendly. But now, having used it for awhile, I’ve done some things to make it that much better.  Here’s what I’ve done:

  1. Change the lock screen to a black background. When using a phone I like to quickly glance at the screen to see if there are any new messages, etc.  And often just to see the time. I found using a photo on my lock screen to be too busy for this purpose.  They offer the use of a color lock screen, but they don’t offer black, which I think provides optimum readability since the lock screen text is always in white. So, I took a picture of a black sofa and then used that as my lock screen photo.
  2. Rearrange default tiles.  After using the phone for awhile, I determined which apps I kept returning to and rearranged my tiles based on usage. I still use my phone primarily to make calls, text message and use the calendar.  So here are the tiles that I have front and center on my phone
    1. Phone – After all, it is a phone!
    2. Messaging – Fastest way to text messages.
    3. Settings – When I’m out and about, I like to hook into wireless networks, so I find myself going to settings a lot to hook into wireless networks.  Plus, as I keep messing with the phone itself to get it the way I want it, I find myself in settings a lot. As such, I added the settings tile.
    4. Music – Now that I am using the phone as a Zune and plugging the 8th inch adapter into my home stereo and car, I find myself in the music section a lot.
    5. Calendar – At this point, I’ve been using my cellphone as a calendar for years, so it makes sense to have the calendar tile on there.
    6. Photos – Same with photos. Our phones are our cameras these days.

      (Note to Windows Phone team if you read this: I wish I could configure what images appear in the photos and music tile instead of it being hidden from me.)

      So, those six items each up all my space.  Below the fold on the home screen I am putting apps as I try them out.
  3. Change theme from dark to light. I really find reading white text on a a black background hard on the eyes after awhile. Thus, I changed the theme. Much better reading black text on a white background.
  4. Sync my phone over wireless. This is a really cool feature!  No more plugging the phone into a PC. Here’s how to do it: http://www.zune.net/en-US/products/learningcenter/sync/usingsync/setupwirelesssync.htm. Note that you have to have a password protected wireless network for this to work. And, hey, all you iPhone users out there: this is a feature that isn’t on the iPhone!
  5. Manage my contacts/calendar via Outlook. See this post for more: http://rhizohm.net/irhetoric/post/2010/11/16/Missing-ActiveSync-How-To-Sync-and-Import-Contacts-Into-Windows-Phone-7-From-Outlook-Using-Windows-Live-Hotmail-As-A-Bridge.aspx
  6. Turn off location. Call me paranoid, but I don’t like location turned on with my phone.  See http://icanstalku.com for more on why. What’s nice is that you can turn it off but still install apps that “think” they need it. For example, the official Twitter app says it is going to use your location when you try to install it, but you can still install it with location turned off.
  7. Change ringtone.  I liked 04 Silk.
  8. Turn off vibrate. Don’t like things vibrating in my pocket.
  9. Use speech recognition for search. The quality is really there! 
  10. Tilt phone to landscape mode when typing. It really makes the keyboard much more usable.