So, this is the last of my three comments on Windows sets. I wanted to do Win8 and Windows RT and now windows phone. I just recently switched from Android to Windows Phone 8, maybe permanently, maybe not…
I’ve considered writing Windows Phone and RT software (and did write some) to see what the ecosystem and development system are like. Development for Windows RT is great. Windows Phone is almost as good.
With that said, Windows Phone itself is not so great.
- Stable Operating System – I haven’t had a single crash occur on my phone other than when running 3rd party software. It’s fast and stable. Update – on the plane yesterday my music player crashed so hard I had to remove the battery to reboot. How unpleasant.
- Good GUI – just like in RT, the swiping and gesturing stuff is really well thought out – it really feels second generation compared to Android’s first generation.
- Large Fonts - in general WP8 is very readable, especially for someone who is near-challenged.
- People – the contact list is really good. Lots of good information and some outstanding list management (and yes, it has a favorites group).
- Typing – the context typing keyboard of Windows Phone is amazingly good. I asked someone to try it and he decided to type Happy Birthday. It took one key (H) and then click ‘happy’ then ‘birthday’ – awesome.
Not enough customization – it’s just too basic. The basic apps are too dumbed down and inflexible – just like a typical version 1.
- Display Freeze – I can’t freeze the display to Portrait? Wtf is that? You know how hard it is to use in bed or on a couch?
- Colors: I don’t love the color choices that get forced on you by theme selection. For example, I’m using chocolate brown and subheadings are in hard-to-read darkish red. Outdoors subheadings totally fade away. I can’t wait until Microsoft realizes that shapes AND COLORS help with picking from a list. This white on brown icon stuff is just awful from a usability standpoint.
- Volumes: why can’t I change the ringer volume independently of the speaker volume?
- Music Player – the player loses where you were and has no seek so using it to play audio-books is hair-pullingly frustrating. Listening to the first 10 minutes of a chapter 3 times because it lost your place totally sucks.
- Navigation – despite Microsoft’s marketing, only Nokia phones come with turn-by-turn voice navigation. And that navigation is ok but not great compared with Google maps. It’s not as well integrated, especially with street view and finding ‘things’ (e.g. restaurants). The compass support is a joke. Voice guided turn-by-turn navigation, in my opinion, is a basic critical function of a phone OS, not an addon from Nokia.
- Browser – no forward button? At least, unlike WinRT there’s a history list.
- Call log – this shows a bare minimum of information. No duration, which sucks if you charge for your time.
- Camera – The Nokia camera is problematic. It requires a lot of light to focus well. It produces a really good picture after an annoying pause.
- Typing – while the context keyboard is great, the cursor positioning is frustrating. It picks a word always. These so need cursor keys. It’s not hard to put them in the keyboard (hint).
- Browser Search – I’m conditioned to just type into the url bar in IE to do a search. It really needs voice and a history or switch me to Bing or something. Currently it has no voice input and doesn’t retain your search anywhere so if you make a small typo you get to totally retype your query.
I’m hoping that Windows Phone 9 fixes most of these shortcomings. Until then the phone hardware itself is great. My call quality and speaker-phone quality are outstanding. The screen is adequate (medium res). If it had a great navigation app I probably would be content.
I’ve been using my Windows Phone for a while now and a couple of comments.
- Camera – the camera is good if you use it well. I didn’t realize at first that it focused on my click-object (duh). It’s still tough to get something not-blurry sometimes but overall it’s performing well for me as a camera now. Better than my last one by a large margin. I’m so used to the focus click I find it strange that Android doesn’t do that.
- The typing thing (no cursor keys hard to select a spot) continues to be a real frustration.
- If I run with Wifi off the power consumption is just great.
Today I went to WindowsPhone.com and looked at the startup help. While doing it I found this cool feature called FindMyPhone that can find your phone via gps and can ring it (or lock or erase it). This is cool! Microsoft’s marketing really needs some work. Something should be pushing us to this site.
I’ve also noticed this is discussed in the System portion of the Settings entries. This swiping to other parts of the ‘dialog’ is something I constantly have to remind myself to do, even though there’s a subtle visual cue at the top.
I also found a ‘Check for Updates’ in the System portion that told me it’d been a month since I last checked. Even though I have it set to ‘Tell me when updates are available’ when I did the manual check it found a serious system update. Wtf?
The voice map is ok but not Google. Here’s a comparison. Not only is the Google map easier to read but it’s more accurate and Nokia Drive took me around the back street (to park behind the building, I guess).
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