Navigating Windows Phone 7

March 16, 2011, By Christian Cawley

If you’re coming to Windows Phone 7 for the first time, you might be a bit surprised to find a phone that looks quite unlike any other mobile platform on the market.

Thanks to the Metro user interface (known as the Metro UI) Windows Phone 7 devices feature a combination of a tile-based approach (which provide access to the various “hubs”) and a similar menu system to that found on Zune HD devices.

Combined with some easy to remember gestures, the Metro UI makes Windows Phone 7 an extremely easy-to-use platform.

Navigating the Windows Phone 7 user interface

Finding Your Way Around Windows Phone 7

The Start screen on a Windows Phone 7 handset is accessed via the typical Windows Start button; depending on your device this might be a hardware button or a touch sensitive component with vibration (haptic) feedback and lets you know when the button has been used.

On the Start screen you will find your various Windows Phone 7 hubs – People, Pictures, Music & Videos, Games, Marketplace and Office – and you will also be able to find any tiles that you add.

Accessing the Apps list is a case of swiping your finger from right to left across the screen, or tapping the arrow on the upper-right section of the display.

The Apps list features all of the currently installed applications and also provides access to email accounts and built-in utilities like the camera. You can also access the hubs from here.

Going Backwards with Windows Phone 7

Tapping the Back button – found to the left of the Start button – will take you back one step. If you’re in the Apps list you will be taken back to the Start screen, and if you’re in an app or game you will be taken back to the previous screen (perhaps an options screen).

The Back button has a long memory in normal use – you can keep tapping it to cycle through a history of your journey through the operating system, although its functionality is slightly different within Internet Explorer Mobile.

When browsing the web with Windows Phone 7, you can use the Back button to go to a previously visited web page – but only one visited within that current browsing session. If you exit the browser and then return to it, the Back button will only start working again when you begin visiting new pages.

Swiping Through Screens

One vital part of the Windows Phone 7 platform that you should be aware of is the Settings screen, available by default on the Start screen and also present in the Apps list. With this you can configure various behaviours, disable localization tools and customize applications to behave in a particular way.

The Settings screen also acts as a good example of how Windows Phone 7 applications that embrace the Metro UI work – it comprises two sections, Settings and Applications, which like two tabs on a desktop operating system properties box can be selected one at a time to access different views. In Windows Phone 7 these views can be opened by swiping left or right.

Once you have mastered the navigation and gestures of Windows Phone 7, you should be able to find your way around without any problems!

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