Friday, May 9, 2014

My Opinion: Has My Windows Phone Gone Android?


So, in my preparations for my test drive with the HTC One, I was looking at all the new features that Android has baked in since my time with my Evo 4G. The list was pretty impressive, and frankly a bit dumbfounding. I glance through the newest features first, like the completely offline Google Navigation – something that I thought WP had the market cornered on. Then the App Gap, which, for better or worse, is still pretty terrible. Of course, the awesome notification center, and widgets that update quickly – though too many will impact battery life something fierce. That left me to think, has my Lumia started to run Android?


Don’t laugh… Microsoft built so many under the hood changes in to the 8.1 preview that I am a bit freaked out that I now have an Android device without the benefit of the Android Apps. I mean, what happened to the “Phone to save me from my phone?” in Windows Phone 7? Now everything is two or three clicks when it used to be one!


When Windows Phone came out, it was so different, so easy. Now, it has much more power than it did before, but most of that power has been transferred to Apps, just like the competition. Instead of being ground breaking and changing the game, Windows Phone has gone back to being behind the curve and playing catch up. Here are the highlights to help me prove my meager argument here:

Offline Mapping – Google recently announced that they now have offline mapping and GPS, something that used to be only for Windows Phone lovers. Is this a negative, not really, but honestly, it keeps an Android user from leaving for Here Drive+.

MS Services – When Mobile Bing Rewards arrived first for the iPhone and Android devices, my heart sank. I love Bing Rewards – and if you aren’t signed up yet, please use my link – and everyone else that is a Windows fan should to. You get points for searching the internet and get prizes for those points. So far I have gotten about $10 in free Apps from Bing Rewards. If you aren’t bingin’ it, you aren’t getting freebies. That said, Bing Rewards is just the tip of things. Office, OneDrive, OneNote and many other “Microsoft” applications have found their way over to the evil empires, which again, may not be a reason to buy an Android device, but it’s not a reason to leave it any more.

Live Tiles – They always seemed like glorified widgets to me, but they were streamlined and well thought out. They updated every 30 minutes to minimize battery drain and they looked nice an universal. Now we make them in small, medium and large, in transparent and regular with up to 6 rows of them on a 4” screen. Plus they can update as often as they like with push notifications. In other words, we’ve pretty much turned them into battery sucking widgets.

There are plenty more reasons that I feel that Windows Phone is becoming more the normal and not breaking new ground, but I’ll save those for after next week when I spend some time with the new Android Kit Kat release. I want to make sure I’ve got my bases covered before I go too far with this.

That said, I’m not loving the direction that Windows Phone is taking as much as I thought I would with 8.1. I know they are trying to break in to the masses with these new ‘personalization’ features, but it really is the stuff that caused me to leave the others. Maybe it’s time to break out the old Titan again and go back to Windows Phone 7.5… Back when times were more simple and I didn’t have to worry about anything but what color would my tiles be today?

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