Getting to Grips with Windows Phone 7 Gestures

February 22, 2011, By Christian Cawley

Touch-screen devices always require gestures from the user in order to access certain functions and delivery specific commands.

Even going back to the old Pocket PC devices with their stylus-based interface, certain shapes could be “drawn” on the screen to achieve specific tasks, such as entering or editing text. While some of these gestures are still in use – most notably on Windows 7 tablets – many of them have been superseded as Pocket PCs became Windows Mobile and latterly Windows Phone 7.

With touch screen phones that require just a couple of fingers, the matter of interfacing with mobile devices has changed. Windows Phone 7 largely sticks to convention, but thanks to the various elements of its super-slick user interface there is more to interacting with these devices than tapping software buttons.

Getting to grips with Windows Phone gestures

Using Windows Phone 7 Gestures

Browsing your way around a Windows Phone 7 handset requires the understanding of several intuitive gestures, which may or may not be similar to those that you might have used on other handsets.

The most obvious is the tap, used for entering numbers, typing and opening programs. You would also tap links in the web browser in order to launch them in a new tab. Another common gesture is touch and hold – this is used to display a context menu specific to the application or Hub you are viewing. For instance if I was viewing the People Hub on my Windows Phone and noticed that the Facebook updates were a few hours out of date, I would touch and hold to display the menu and then select Refresh to update.

The third common gesture is to pan. This is done either vertically or horizontally and is achieved by running your finger across the screen. Windows Phone 7 features the Metro UI (user interface) which requires scrolling from left to right to take advantage of the full set of menus; this begins with the Windows Phone Start screen, which features a list of Programs to the right of it.

To access this list you must either pan your finger to the left (as in turning a page to the left when reading) or tap the right-facing arrow. Similarly you would slide your finger up and down on the screen to scroll through the various programs that are listed; it might be safer to apply the pan gesture only in areas of the screen where there are no other buttons to press.

Advanced Windows Phone 7 Gestures

For speedy browsing through lists and web pages you might use the flick gesture, particularly useful for finding contacts in a busy People Hub contacts list. Also suitable for web pages is the double tap, used to zoom in on a particular element of the page. For instance if I wanted to read a particular column of text I would double tap the screen in the appropriate place, and the view would be resized with the text filling the screen.

Finally, and again suitable for web pages as well as photos are the pinch and stretch gestures which are used to zoom in and zoom out on specific applications. To zoom out, the pinch gesture – pinching your thumb and forefinger together while maintaining contact with the screen – is used, while to zoom in, use the stretch gesture, which is the same as the pinch gesture but in reverse.

With these gestures mastered (which should take about 30 seconds) you will be ready to start using Windows Phone!

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