The app-situation on Windows Phone

Post 2, after almost a month of Windows Phone usage. You can read about my first impressions here.

We’ve all heard it before, this or that appstore doesn’t have enough apps, that’s why this or that mobile OS is better. For starters, I have a hard time seeing that matters as long as you find the apps you want or possibly even the functionality you need but of course, more apps often suggests more quality apps as well. In Windows Phone I unfortunately run into problems with both finding functionality I want and specific apps.

wp_desktop
Really Instagram, BETA?!

Many of the biggest apps are waaaaayyyy behind its Android and iOS counterparts. Spotify isn’t bad but slower, with more problems, and less functionality – not a great combination. Same goes for Facebook Messenger that I on Android used as much as Hangouts/Texts, both for messages and calls. On Windows Phone, the conversation is so slow that I often find that I leave and rejoin a conversation to force an update, even after getting a notification! Notifications by the way come and go as they like, but when they arrive I haven’t found a way to silent them (even when the vibration is off together with all sound, the phone vibrates), oh and calling is not enabled yet. More than 6 months after the function was rolled out on Android. Simply not acceptable. and these things together seriously limits my ability to communicate freely. Facebook owned Instagram is the same thing, but almost worse, to be honest it reminds me of how Instagram worked and looked over a year ago. It’s even in Beta. Which leads me to Google. There’s not a single app from Google in the store, not one. Stubborn me, set out to find alternatives, and they do exist! GMail users are apparently raging about MetroMail, so that’s what I’m using but… I can’t answer how much of my feelings are based on being used to other apps but so far every attempt to find functionality instead of the app I’m used to have left me disappointed. No, there’s one exception – the podcast app Casts is great and does exactly what I want it to without too many issues. Not without bugs but in general it works great and if I understand it correctly it shows the iTunes catalog (which means that my catalog right now has the iPhone keynote front and center :) ). But as I mentioned, that’s the one that stands out. In many apps, what makes the OS feel smooth, the small animation while an app start for example that I wrote about in the first post, turns into a small animation and then looking at a blank screen, or the text “resuming…”. The smoothness is at large lost in apps.

  That Facebook and Google ignores Windows Phone is not Microsoft’s fault (well, maybe a little bit but not much). I’m pretty disappointed with both of them (once again, using them as an example for what I feel is a widespread WP problem). when they don’t release apps for Windows Phone, Google is in my opinion not acting according to what would be best for their users, but rather they are thinking of Androids best. One could argue that it’s a small user base but my distinct feeling is that it’s kept small by these big companies that simply feels focusing on another mobile platform is just extra hassle (and for Google, competition).

 No matter who’s fault, this is Windows Phone’s Achilles heel. It doesn’t offer enough innovation or wow-factor, and it requires you to be pretty committed to finding apps that works for you, adjusting how you use your phone and which services (I’m also missing Dropbox and Bitcasa for example). I’m trying here, but the general feeling I got is that anyone that already committed to another platform will have a very hard time switching and not only that, will struggle to find a reason to.

Wrap up and final words in the last post soon!

Trying out Windows Phone

Lucky me have a friend who hooked me up with a Nokia Lumia 925 for a while, letting me dip my feet in the Windows Phone pool. There’ll probably be a couple of posts but let us start with some first impressions after a week of use (though, I will wait a bit with publishing).

nokia925First word that comes to mind, slick! I like the feeling and getting started as well as adding my accounts was a breeze. I was a little bit taken a back by how fast and snappy it feels. I don’t consider my Nexus 5 to be slow or suffer from lag really, but it does take a moment now and then to start a new app for example. In Windows Phone that moment is pretty much hidden behind an animation, works out better than you’d think.

Another difference to Android is how many apps and services are built in. Small things like WiFi sharing (Sense as it’s called), Podcast player, Battery Saver (not part of stock Android), Office suite, all makes getting of to a smooth start easier. This of course gives a pretty consistent experience but it also put the pressure on Microsoft to drive its own product development. Looking at the Store, Podcast, Calendar and Explorer I can’t say that I’m entirely convinced. All of them lacks some functionality that I seek and I often feel that the strive for simplicity has won over functionality or even the wish to be intuitive. I just don’t find it simply that often.

To be fair, I’m almost to be considered biased, I’ve been using Android for many years and are of course set in my ways of what apps I use and how I want them to work. I therefore decided to be hard on myself, and I’m really trying to adapt to a Microsoft world, using my Windows account more, Here Maps et cetera. As I’m pretty heavily invested in my Google account and use a lot of their services I figured this switch could be…less convenient, more about how it turned out in the next posts where I write more about apps!