There has been a rant brewing since I switched from Android to Windows Phone 7 back in June. I finally switched back to Android at CES when I got Casi from our German site to bring me over a European edition of the Samsung .
For those of you who might assume that I had a second handset, I didn’t, the HTC Mozart was my only phone, I didn’t have a review unit to flip on to, I used it as my dedicated handset for 7 months. In case you’ve forgotten that was a few months of Windows 7 before 7.5 Mango was released. When the update was released the three biggest issues that I had were fixed, kind of. (I have other issues that weren’t ‘addressed’ but we’ll get to those later.)
So what did Mango kind of fix for me? Well I was really happy that tethering, multitasking and the ability to upload photo’s to twitter were finally available. Now technically these features were added, but they weren’t added well, the only one that went off with out a hitch was tethering. This was huge for me, I finally was able to stop carrying around a 3G dongle and ripping my phone apart every time I wanted to use the internet on my computer…and trust me I needed to a lot since the ability to get things done on Windows Phone 7 is limited.
Multitasking was also added, but after coming off of Android you realize that its not true multitasking. It’s the-style of multitasking which means that apps are frozen and not running in background and only some activities like streaming audio, will be allowed in background. Maybe if you’re moving over from iPhone you’d be ok with this, but you won’t be ok with the realization that you’re basically moving on to a super feature phone not the superphone experience you’re used to on the iPhone.
Being unable to upload photo’s to twitter seriously damaged my ability to share on the go it actually caused me huge hassles at press events. Without the ability to upload I would have to email photo’s to myself and use a TweetDeck to share. However, remember my complaint that I needed the internet on my computer to blog, so unless unless wifi was provided I had my SIM card in a dongle so email from my phone wasn’t possible.
The sad part of this story is that even though I have the ability to upload photo’s directly, the poor quality of the apps leaves me needing multiple applications to get the job done. I use MoTweat the most but it takes so long to upload the photo (even when connected directly to my 100MB/5MB home internet) that the screeen times out and since there is no true multitasking the upload has to start over. That means you have to keep your finger on the screen to keep the app live so you can share. Does that sound like a great experience? So for uploading I have to use the original twitter app which isn’t reliable for updating the feed. So I have to use a combination of twitter apps, not ideal. My biggest issue with most apps is that entire columns will stop updating Direct Messages in MoTweat quits and I have to uninstall and reinstall the app to get it working again. Or switching between mentions and your stream takes forever like in the twitter app. If you have a twitter app that you think works perfectly please let me know how long you’ve been using it with out it glitching out on you. I’d love to find a good one.
What about my other issues that weren’t fixed in the Mango update? My biggest pet peeve about Windows Phone 7 is the lack of Google Maps integration. I went back to Android not because I’m so love with Google but because Bing maps sucks.
I live in Taipei, my Chinese is tragic at best, my friends all have Android phones, they are roughly 70% of the market over here. Since many of my friends can’t read or write in Chinese and we want to meet up at some unknown location, they drop a pin and send it over. Easy enough, just open it and show it to the taxi driver and off you go…that is if I was using an iPhone or an Android Phone. In Windows Phone 7 it brings up an image of map, one that can’t be zoomed in on. And since there is no options for downloading other browsers you’re stuck with the mobile version of Google Maps. If I relied on Bing Maps entering the name of restaurant would only point me to the country of Taiwan if i’m lucky.
Thankfully all isn’t lost, there are some hybrid apps available that do the trick, gMaps or Bingle are my two favorites and they generally get the job done. But these still don’t get around the inability to share location easily.
I touched on another issue just now about browsers, you can’t actually download another browser. It’s an issue because once or twice a month I would get a message saying that my browser was out of date. The page won’t load properly and my experience ruined. If you just used the phone for a few weeks you might not notice, this is only something that I started to notice as an issue after a few months of use. So beware you’re going to start craving gestures that have become standard in browsers found in iOS or Android.
Now let’s talk about apps, yes, it’s getting better 60,000 apps available so far and Microsoft is very aggressive about getting more apps in quickly. My issue is that when they do come available they often suck. Let’s take What’s App, very popular app that allows you to chat between operating systems. It’s available on Windows Phone 7, even though it’s got all the features available on other platforms, the actual execution of the app is terrible. Certain people have been waiting for me to get back on What’s App and they weren’t in the automatically generated contact list, and there was no way to search for them. So I had to ask them to send me a message so that I could respond and chat, there was no way to manually add or search, Fail! Also, messages often appear hours or even days late, testing with someone in the same room showed some shocking delay’s.
So around Apps, the question should be if they are there, how well were they implemented?
Next on my long list of things I don’t like about Windows Phone 7 is the maximum resolution of 480×800. The iPhone has a resolution of 960×640, Android is seeing higher and higher resolutions of 1280×800. However Windows Phone can handle only 800×480 so the 4.7 inch big HTC Titan has a pitiful 800×480 display resolution.
I used the HTC Mozart for nearly 7 months, I couldn’t have used it for so long and not liked something about it. I love the email client, its the best I’ve seen on any operating system. The use of white space is amazing and it offers a very clean experience that kept me hooked. It’s clear that BlackBerry users will love it since email is a big part of that user experience. I also liked the tiles, it’s clean and easy, the live update didn’t really add much to my experience but its an easy way of creating a customized home page. Switching between apps was also a nice experience but all in all, the inconveniences it created in getting around and being connected to the real world has me running back to Android.
Those are my reasons for leaving Windows Phone 7, Sascha Pallenberg had a discussion with Rob Jackson over at Phandroid about Windows Phone 7. After 7 months of me complaining to Sascha about my Windows Phone it’s not surprising in this discussion he had a lot to say about why Windows Phone 7 would not succeed. Surprisingly his talking points are more centered around ecosystem so it’s a pretty interesting listen if you weren’t convinced that Nokia might be in trouble hitching their wagon to the Windows Phone train.