After the craziness of a previous Windows Phone blog entry ("Why I'm Close to Giving Up on Windows Phone 7, as a User and a Developer"), I thought it was worth posting an update, now that my "relationship" with Windows Phone has come to an end. Recently I placed an order for a Google/LG Nexus 4 Android phone...
You can't say I didn't give Microsoft a fair shot. You can read the full history in this post; and I continued to use Windows Phone for more than another two years since then. Windows Phone wasn't the great MS phone it should've been (and that I was expecting it to be). It's time to move on. I know a lot of naysayers in the comments of the original post will be saying "Told you so", and you were right. But I had to give it a try :)
Anyone that follows me on Twitter or Google+ probably knows this has been a long time coming. I've been a big fan of Android since swapping my iPad for a Nexus 7. In many ways, Windows Phone feels to me now, how my iPad felt to me then; kinda restricted and "doesn't do a lot". I expect the change to Android for my phone will bring the same sort of advantages and increased *ahem* "productivity" (where productivity means, email, social, gaming and other non-productive stuff) that changing my tablet gave.
To be constructive, here's some of the reasons:
Reasons Android seems better to me than Windows Phone
- Not enough investment from Microsoft in Windows Phone.
Only a few major updates since launch, and they added nonsense stuff like different sized icons and made the browser less crappy.
- Not enough investment from third parties in Windows Phone.
eg. Google just launched Hangouts on Android, iOS, Web, but no Windows Phone; no Google+ on Windows Phone. It's not just Google; other big apps are still missing.
- My annoying Bluetooth issue still exists in Windows Phone.
Even on the Lumia 900 I was Kindly sent by Microsoft (they thought my issue was isolated to HTC, not Windows Phone) it's still bust, and there's no way I can help debug :o( It's early days, but I haven't yet had the issue with Android, so it seems more likely WP than my Car (the problem also didn't occur on iPhone).
- Microsoft Web apps are clunky.
Google's web apps (Gmail, GDocs/Drive, Calendar) all work really well (even if they're not very pretty), and sync nicely with the Android apps. The last time I tried the equiv online apps from Microsoft (Hotmail/Outlook, online Office) they were very fat and clunky. Being able to do things on the web when I'm at a PC is a big deal; some things are just tiresome on a mobile device. I want to be able to switch devices seamlessly.
- Google Hangouts!
It's only just launched, but I think Hangouts have a bright future. It's like iMessage, but works on iOS, Android and the web! It's a real bummer that Google didn't include Windows Phone support, but I'm really liking this a lot. The way mobile/desktop work together is very nice; such as not appearing "online" from a mobile device, which cuts down on random "chat" messages. Being able to switch device between PC, Tablet, Mobile is killer.
- Bluetooth Audio Streaming Quality is terrible on Windows Phone
The audio quality of BT streaming on my Windows Phones was terrible. This wasn't so bad for phone calls; but made it unusable for music. I thought it might've been HTC-specific, but had the same reason with the Lumia. My Nexus has no such issue; and I'm able to happily play music from Google Music without any quality issues :-)
- Faster Access to Updates
With a Nexus device, I know I'll get OS updates fairly quickly. Microsoft are still bending over for carriers and letting them block updates. No excuse for this.
There are many other niggles I had with Windows Phone; I find myself rarely using it for anything other than calls/texts because it feels limited and slow. Whenever I go to the Windows Phone marketplace, I'm amazed at how basic it is; how little information/options/etc. (and it's so slow!). It almost feels unfinished :(
Additionally, I'm quite a big user of Google services (eg.; Gmail/Calendar/Docs), so having native apps is nice (for example; the Gmail app has nice support for Gmail-native features, like switching From addresses and the new automatic categories).
The auto-backup of photos with Google+ works really well too; and ironically, the day after receiving my Nexus 4, my daughter spilled juice over my wife's Windows Phone and completely fried it, and we've been unable to recover the photos from it. I know Windows Phone can auto-backup too (wife's fault for not enabling it, or mine for not telling her, I guess!), but I believe it won't do full-res versions of the photo, which is kinda crap.
That said; I must say there are things I'm going to miss...
Things I'll miss about Windows Phone
- SMS messages read to me in my car.
I love that Windows Phone has built-in functionality to read text messages to me via Bluetooth in my car. Replying has never worked for me (it can never tell what I'm saying, and just rudely hangs up after a few tries), but just having them read has been very useful. Looks like there are third party apps that do this on Android, but there's always that additional confidence you have in built-in functionality :(
- The dedicated camera button.
This is a big one for me, because I have a 1yr old daughter and a week old son. Being able to launch the camera really quickly is killer.
Update: Since receiving my Nexus 4, I discovered there was a pre-configured Camera widget on the lock screen; I just tap the power button, then swipe left, and it launches the camera. Although it's two actions, it's about the same (or less) time than the WP long-press on the camera button, so it's actually not been the issue I thought it would :-)
- The people hub.
Having my phone know that this email address, this twitter user, this facebook user etc. are all the same person is killer. Android + iOS have work to do here. Facebook doesn't sync contacts (despite showing the option too), nor does Twitter. My People app just shows Google contacts :(
Update: Since receiving my Nexus 4, I discovered that Android does support this; but Facebook and Twitter just don't use it (though there are third party apps for Facebook at least). So it's not as bad as I thought, especially as I had Twitter contacts hidden on WP because there are so many people I don't really "know".
- Live Tiles.
Not for anything useful, but little touches like the Pictures tile showing a random photo I've taken (usually of my daughter pulling a cheeky face); really makes me smile :-) There are some photo widgets on Android, but none of them really behave in a similar way that I find them worth having.