I'm an enormous Apple fan, maybe extra so than you standard “fanboy”. I've used Apple merchandise for over 15 years as a result of I truthfully thought-about them the perfect for my wants. However greater than that I additionally labored for the corporate for 5 years, I nonetheless have many buddies there in nearly each division, from PR to Marcom, from Gross sales to Engineering. On prime of this I've coated the corporate day by day for the final six years as a know-how journalist and I’ve even written over a dozen books on the way to use Apple merchandise.
That’s why once I contacted Microsoft a number of weeks in the past for a evaluation unit of a Home windows Telephone operating Windows Phone 8.1 I assumed I’d in all probability discover it satisfactory as a telephone (as a lot as one finds a toaster satisfactory. Does it make toast? Examine.). I additionally “knew” I’d miss my iPhone terribly in giving it up for every week to run my little experiment of what it’s like swapping out an iPhone for a Home windows Telephone.
However boy, was I improper. Home windows Telephone is superb.
Matter of reality, Home windows Telephone is my new favourite cellular OS. In lots of respects it beats iOS palms down. It innovates the place Apple and Android have gotten complacent. It's clearly the smartphone for the plenty. By that I imply I consider it’s the only smartphone for non-techies to make use of.
But on the similar time, I’m unhappy to say, I can’t hand over my iPhone for a Home windows Telephone--as a lot as I need to.
Why? I’ll come to that in a bit. However first let me inform you about my week with Home windows Telephone.
A Surprisingly Easy OS
Once I acquired my Home windows Telephone loaner unit I wasn't an entire novice to it. I had performed with Home windows Telephone earlier than at commerce present occasions or when somebody I knew had one (this was uncommon, nevertheless). In these 10-20 minute increments I had all the time thought the Stay Tile “Trendy” interface and the massive textual menus have been a singular strategy to a smartphone OS, however one which Microsoft solely did to keep away from being sued by Apple.
In any case, iOS really revolutionized and set the tone for cellular OSes. Android simply copied iOS. Since Microsoft didn’t need to get drawn right into a protracted lawsuit with Apple, like Samsung has, it selected (correctly) to ascertain a totally new cellular OS. However as I came upon, this cellular OS wasn’t simply designed to look radically totally different for authorized causes, it was designed to innovate the cellular OS market--one thing that Apple and Android haven’t completed for years now.
As I started utilizing my Home windows Telephone over the primary few days I shortly discovered simply how revolutionary the Reside Tile interface is. At a look I had entry to superbly organized info, continually updating, on my Begin display.
The actual great thing about the Stay Tiles, in fact, is that they don't seem to be simply app icons. Lest we overlook, the one info iOS’ Residence display exhibits you is its app icons, that are...not very informative. The totally different sized Reside Tiles allowed me to put hyper-particular info on my Begin display - I used to be capable of pin not solely my favourite apps or net pages to this web page, however particular sections of apps. For instance, from the Flixster app I pinned the Greenwich Image Home movie show showtimes to my Begin display. Tapping this brings me proper into the Greenwich Image Home listings within the Flixster app--one thing that might take me 5 faucets to get to within the iOS model of Flixster.
This Reside Tile strategy takes the stale icon interface that Apple’s iOS borrowed from the desktop and turns it on its head. All in all it makes Home windows Telephone really feel like a extra natural, “dwelling” OS than iOS or Android of their present guises.
Stellar System and App Navigation
Talking of tapping these tiles...I discovered the “flip” animated transition into an app to be a small but far more nice expertise than the springboard impact Apple makes use of in iOS.
Nevertheless it’s not simply the Reside Tiles and animated results that make Home windows Telephone so easy and interesting to make use of. The App Listing, which you entry by swiping left from the Begin display provides customers fast and quick access to an alphabetical listing of all of the apps on their telephone. That is extremely useful as customers can shortly scroll by means of all the listing in seconds to seek out the app they're looking for. Proper now on iOS there isn't any such alphabetical record. You’re relegated to looking for apps by identify or swiping by way of pages of House screens.
One other factor I discovered totally different, however higher, about Home windows Telephone is that it has largely carried out away with navigation buttons in apps in favor of swiping left or proper to get from one display to the subsequent. At first this appeared counter-intuitive coming from iOS, which is in-app button heavy, however I shortly discovered it to be a quicker strategy to get round apps.
Home windows Telephone eight.1 Makes the Distinction
To date that is all going to be acquainted territory to present Home windows Telephone customers, however to be trustworthy, I don’t assume I might have fallen in love with Home windows Telephone as a lot if the loaner gadget I used to be utilizing (a Nokia Lumia 1020) wasn’t operating the beta of Home windows Telephone eight.1. That’s as a result of Home windows Telephone eight.1 provides most of the options I’m used to in iOS.
As an alternative of Notification Centre and Management Centre Home windows Telephone eight.1 has Motion Centre, a hybrid of the 2 iOS options that lets you shortly entry essential settings and see all of your notifications in a single place. Identical to on iOS, you entry it by swiping down from the highest of any display.
One other nice new function in Home windows Telephone eight.1 is Cortana, Microsoft’s private digital assistant and a competitor to Siri. And although Cortana continues to be in beta, I discovered it did no worse than Siri does (admittedly a function I exploit solely not often on iOS).
I additionally discovered I beloved most of the constructed-in Home windows Telephone apps far more than I did their iOS counterparts. Notably Climate and Finance which, by their sheer design, beats the Climate and Inventory apps on iOS. As for the “common” apps like Calendar, Contacts, E mail, and lots of others, I discovered transferring my knowledge a breeze.
Nonetheless Can’t Depart the iPhone
However after one week of use, as a lot as I’m in love with Home windows Telephone and its lovely, straightforward-to-use Reside Tiles, I can’t depart my iPhone...but.
The primary drawback with Home windows Telephone is a 3rd-get together app drawback. The Home windows Telephone Retailer gives loads of apps, however I might solely discover 5 of my twenty most-steadily used iOS apps on it. The Retailer presents a few of my favorites like Google Maps, BBC iPlayer, Flixster, Tube Mapper, and Time Out London, however it lacks most of the different necessary--and extra area of interest--iOS apps I reply on each day. And that’s a disgrace, as a result of it’s stopping me from switching.
I’ve additionally turn out to be hooked on the iPhone’s M7 movement coprocessor, which makes monitoring my health a breeze. There isn't any doubt that Home windows Telephone units will embrace movement coprocessors sooner or later, however till it’s a regular hardware requirement for Home windows Telephone it’s not clear how a lot time builders will truly put into designing good apps to benefit from these capabilities.
Because it stands now, Home windows Telephone is a superb selection for the tens of millions of “mild” smartphone customers on the market. The factor that stops it from going from the #three smartphone OS to the #2 is that lack of apps. Admittedly it’s a factor that’s not totally in Microsoft’s management.
What Microsoft must maintain doing is convincing all builders--not simply the large ones--to make their apps for Home windows Telephone too. If that occurs, Home windows Telephone may have this iPhone consumer in its pocket, and, I think, tens of millions extra would additionally comply with go well with.