Nokia Windows Phone 7 UI Concept: N9-style multitasking

| July 11, 2011 | 32 Replies

Hello again folks,

after reading the following quotes after the announcement of N9 from Nokia spokesperson Mark Squires,

We did the alliance after they announced Mango and we’ve jumped on a moving bus. That means the majority of early products will be based on that.”

“However, as we move forward, you will see more of that ‘Nokia stamp’  in those future devices. People right now can only see pieces of the puzzle, they can’t see the whole picture.”

I decided to do some concepts what those statements might actually mean. Since those statements were said during an interview regarding N9 and MeeGo, I believe it might mean that Nokia is considering using some of the more innovative elements of Harmattan UI in the future, eventually showing up also in Nokia’s version of  WP7 as well. One of those elements is the multitasking, which is what this particular concept is about. As we know, Harmattan UI has a whole homescreen reserved for handling multitasking showing all currently open applications. It can be accessed by swiping from either left or right edge of the screen, depending of in which homescreen the user currently is. While it can’t (nor should) be translated to the Metro UI as it is, here’s a concept how some parts of that could be adapted to WP7:


N9-style multitasking in WP7

I would change the current  way of handling multitasking in WP7 which is a long press of the physical Back button to something similar seen in N9 and the Harmattan UI, accessible by a single swipe from anywhere. I don’t like the current way because I feel that the long press takes time and the button itself is not very conveniently located if using only one hand. Additionally, the current way shows only the two latest applications after the long press requiring several more swipes to reach the end of the list, which I find inconvenient (I personally would prefer seeing all the open applications immediately, like it’s done in N900).


So in this concept swiping right from the left edge of the screen anywhere (home screen, Applist, inside an application) reveals the Task Manager, which is a narrow screen on the left side of the screen showing scroll able card list of currently open applications. This would provide a very fast and convenient way of switching between applications.





But hey, see it for yourselves, I made a video:


What do you think, could this work?


Frequently asked in comments:

1. Are you affiliated with Nokia?

No, I’m not. I’m just a Nokia fan that likes to dream.

2. Since WP7 uses a lot of scrolling from left to right in the applications, hubs and etc. don’t you feel it might be a problem?

No I don’t, the curved screen used in N9 (and presumably in the Sea Ray) actually makes it very easy for user to separate the two gestures.

3. How is this any more efficient than the current multitasking screen, since you see only two (or three) open applications with this as well?

I heard that Mango has a maximum limit of six open applications at the same time, so it would require only one flick of the card list will show you the rest of possibly open applications.

4. Can I follow you on Twitter?

Sure. It’s @PeterLackman.


Tags: , , , , ,

Category: Concept, MeeGo, Nokia, Windows Phone

About the Author ()

Hi, I'm Peter. Nokia, Windows Phone and UI/UX design enthusiast.
  • Steve Barker / @SteveBarker66

    This looks great, but maybe we’re approaching this from the wrong perspective:

    Rather than trying to imagine how Nokia might implement distinctive features onto the Metro UI, maybe Microsoft have negotiated to use the N9’s innovative swipe UI for use on WP beyond Mango?

    Can we read something between these lines?

    “We did the alliance after they announced Mango and we’ve jumped on a moving bus. That means the majority of early products will be based on that.”

    “However, as we move forward, you will see more of that ‘Nokia stamp’ in those future devices. People right now can only see pieces of the puzzle, they can’t see the whole picture.”

    • Jay Montano

      Interesting thought. This way, it’s not Nokia making the change just to their portfolio and it won’t make it any more difficult to update that handset. Maybe with Apollo? Ah well, waiting for official Mango first.

    • Peter

      I’d love to see some kind of swipe UI implemented to WP8/Apollo/whatever. But I believe that Metro UI is here to stay, so it would have to be some kind of evolution of that as well.

      • Steve Barker / @SteveBarker66

        If metro UI remains static it will soon date and lose its unique appeal.

        Even the mighty Apple have allowed iOS to evolve from it’s first incarnation – and they are surely the most narcisstic manufacturer.

        If I were Steve Ballmer and not negotiated this as part of the deal with Nokia I’d now be feeling pretty sick of all the hype around N9’s UI!

        The thing is, Nokia’s N9 swype UI is a natural extension to Metro UI and would not really depart from the purity of it’s design.

        Removing that white arrow and the dead space on the screen would answer some of (admittedly few) criticisms of Metro and add value and interest to Windows Phone at a time when it badly needs to gain traction.

        Personally, I only have one problem with Metro UI – and it’s the same problem I have with Symbian on my N8: accessing the Open Tasks quickly. On both Symbian^3 and Mango it involves a long-press of a button – how last year is that!

        On the N900 there’s a handy app called ‘Shortcutd’ that re-maps the camera key (short and long-press); Accessing the dashboard via a short-cut of the camera key is lightening-fast and ultra-convenient – I’d pay good money to have that on my N8.

        • Jay Montano

          ShortcutD total godsend. Redefined multitasking all over again. I love hover buttons. Just wave in front of the proximity sensor to possibly launch multitasking or anything.

        • jr

          Think I agree with you.. if MS don’t change the interface somehow it will get boring over time.. I mean its nice form the beginning but over time it loos boring..

          • Herman Guerra

            Too late its already boring.

            • its not boring, its elegant minimal and excellently designed.

              do you want fit endusing flashing lights (like most crappy microsoft design?)

              seriously, don’t look down upon on some of the best design work to come out of microsoft for a long time.

              It’s not on the phone to entertain you, its to be fast, functional elegant and productive.

              I don’t exactly get a nosebleed looking at a screen of icons on iOS. wp7 already provides a lot more interactivity and realtime information on it’s homescreen without being over the top and fugley aka android.

              It’s seriously one of the best combinations of functional information and elegant ui design we’ve seen to date on smartphones, and deserves a lot more recognition than it gets.

  • Jay Montano

    Great job.

    I agree with you on preferring N900 style grid as opposed to the WebOS/S^3/WP/QNX linear grid. Something also annoying in Mango vids is that you swipe one app at a time – or at least that’s how it appeared. I also hate having to long press to bring up the multitask view (I ‘modded’ my n900 to use half press camera to bring multitasker – one quick ‘gesture’).

    Swipe gesture would work well with WP as it’s all about swiping left and right. It could actually even do with the N9’s homescreen (since it has Tiles/App list and then on left of the tiles, possibly N9 multitask).

    Hopefully there will be sufficient difference from usual WP panning/swiping and bringing this up from ‘gesture area’. I think that would work fine.

    • jr

      get the grid of icons and get sued by Apple

  • Error 1911

    nice but Windows Phone is waaay tooooooo booooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooorrriiinng

  • Bhairav Pardiwala

    Mango looks ok but this type of multitasking is not looking like it is for windows phone metro ui
    maybe something else which will actually fit the mango user interface

  • Jack

    Is it true that windows phone market place still suckss no apps no nothing
    No whatsapp i meen come one why wp7 stay with meego or symbian keep it simple guys
    Windows is just crap

    • Harangue

      No whatsapp is due to lack of API’s. The whatsapp dev’s want access to contacts in the phonebook which they can’t get with the current API set.

      Rumour has it though that WhatsApp will come when Mango releases.

      That the marketplace sucks is a bit mixed, in a way it does and it also doesn’t. There are quite a few bad apps that have somehow been granted access but there are also a lot of major (US) brands that are backing the platform. Brands that can help sell WP as a viable option.

      If the US brands are any indication towards other continents/countries than there will be many official apps we currently aren’t seeing with Symbian.

      • jr

        I don’t really understand why the the guys who develop whatsapp wants to access the phonebook before they develop the app.. just doesn’t make any sense.. there is kik messenger which works very much like but it doesn’t need the phonebook.. I think they are just playing ball .. they will probably come around when the see the platform growing.. but for now kik works way much better than whatsapp.. The appstore is building up…

    • jr

      There are 28,000 apps on the app market now.. it will surpass Symbian’s in a few weeks.. there are some pretty good apps.. f you dont know wp7.. get one before you start talking trash

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  • kevin

    I like the enthusiasm, but I hate WP7 it’s barely an OS its just one big advertisement for Microsoft products. Just the fact that you made this shows that Nokia should have stuck with Meego Harmattan instead of giving away their IP to Microsoft and for some reason paying Microsoft to use WP7, yes folks Meego Harmattan is FREE, WP7 is not.

    • Peter

      I think Nokia can easily afford the license to use WP7 since Symbian R&D expenses will be eventually gone.

    • Jimmy

      Ja, Symbian and MeeGo development have been absolutely fast, amazing timely updates, and totally free.

    • Harangue

      While MeeGo/Harmattan might be free to use, it isn’t free of costs to develop. Nokia will need to pour in significant funds to make Harmatten/N9/MeeGo progressively better over the years.

      Windows Phone development isn’t done by Nokia, they only need to make the hardware and some minor tweaks and be done with it. There is only a small development fee for Nokia and the royalty payment. Which isn’t mandatory for Nokia for the first batch of devices anyway.

      Saying MeeGo is free is both true and wrong. Free to use, but not free of hidden costs like development and maintenaince. If you want to make a comparison, keep that in mind.

  • With Nokia , Microsoft Windows Phones should be capturing the mass market.

  • Goc

    WP is still fugly.

  • Rex

    Looks interesting. But still no frigging way Micro$oft will allow Nokia to do that to their beloved WP7.

  • Jack

    if windows is the last thing that can safe nokia,
    well then probably it’s time for me to switch over to rim, apple or whatever..

  • Kyle

    Just hearing about an improvement that limits you to 6 apps makes me sad. Seems like something to have to be mindful of and leads me to think the OS is fragile.

    I’m liking more what I’m seeing on the N9; 25+ apps before it even flinches. Not that I need 25 apps open but at least I don’t need to think about it.

    • Jack

      why bother meego, we’ll all forget about it by the end this of this year…..

      • Jed

        speak for yourself matey

  • Hooryder

    Has Elop seen the WP7 OS? This will not work in the north american market,lol. Meego has a shot, windows no way jose.

    This looks like crap(not your multitasking stuff) just the UI….i just threw up in my mouth.

  • thanks guy’s

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  • s.s

    nokia with windows still has no soul , not to mention it sucks in front of meego …. elop is just a terrible person for doing this to one fav mobile phone brand