There was a point earlier this year that I was unsure regarding my allegiance to Apple and its products, in particular, the iPhone. This mostly came in the from the lack of change of iOS over the years, and for once, I considered making my next phone something besides Apple’s almighty smartphone.
I was still unhappy with Android at that point in time, a laggy user interface was the hallmark feature of many of those phones. That really left one other option, Windows Phone. The ‘metro’ UI of Windows Phone had intrigued me for quite a while by then, and I was more than happy going for something new.
I then purchased an LG Optimus 7, one of the first phones to run Windows Phone 7, all the way back in 2010. The screen was 3.8-inches, something I had not yet experienced in a phone, and it was very good. It seems that with the Optimus 7, LG carried the Apple-esque ethos that making the screen taller rather than wider was the way to go. The phone made use of some plastic, but it felt reasonably well made, and the metal backing was also encouraging.
However, the main reason for my switch was the software, and Windows Phone 7 was the OS that the phone ran. My expectations were exceeded immediately, with the clean aesthetic of Microsoft’s new mobile OS standing out. The ‘live tiles’ were a welcome addition, considering the static icons I’d used in iOS.
Xbox Live integration, as well as Facebook integration are great features, but eventually as time passed, my newfound love for Windows Phone 7 diminished.
This eventual dislike of the OS was not due to the beautiful live tiles, but because of the limitations I experienced in general use. The app ecosystem in Windows Phone 7 is nothing like that of iOS. There are far fewer apps available, and of much lesser quality. The Facebook app, for example, would interrupt me with notification from events over a day old. This is just one case of the software letting me down in general usage.
My dislike for WP7 was furthered throught the realisation that it was a very young OS, and had not developed to the extent that iOS and Android had. While my attitude towards iOS may not have been extremely positive, this very quickly changed, upon realising just how much functionality is packed into it.
In Windows Phone 7, there is no central notifications hub, just an alert banner at the top of the screen, and a live tile. In addition to this, the multitasking in Windows Phone 7 is completely lackluster. While holding the back button will bring up a view of open applications, they are only accessable in open form through this interface. If you tap an application icon on your homescreen that is open in multitasking, then you will be re-opening that app all over again.
When Microsoft unveiled Windows Phone 8, I saw a way out, possibly a major improvement over what I currently had. But then one thing was announced, that WP8 would only be available on new devices. Windows Phone 7.8, a watered down version of 8 would be available on my phone, but that was all. It only includes visual changes to the homescreen, no notification hub, no improved multitasking. Although even to this day, I am unaware of when Windows Phone 7.8 will be released. Good job with communication Microsoft.
Congratulations to Microsoft for venturing into the smartphone space. Windows Phone does have potential, but that potential will not be fully realised until the OS matures, and becomes more functional, and the app ecosystem improves massively.
Now I will move back to iOS. With my iPhone, iPad and iMac, I will be fully invested in the Apple ecosystem, and I doubt that I’ll be leaving anytime soon.