Winphones for iPeople?

Curiosity won. A week ago I was offered a shiny new yellow Nokia Lumia 920 as my business phone, and I took it. This entry is about my first week with the winphone.

The Nokia Lumia 920 device

Nokia is an amazing hardware manufacturer. The guys have been working on phones since the dawn of time. The WiFi is flawless, the phone never lost signal, and 3G is fast. The GPS is sharp, quick and accurate (compared to iPhone, which usually knew which planet I am on). I even bought a car holder, and used it as navigator. The included HERE Drive+ beta with free worldwide maps is a full blown navigator – don’t need to get anything else. Saved me a hundred bucks already. Did I mention the wireless charging? It just works. One of those things you never knew to miss until you got one.

I really love the looks@moia has done wonderful job on the design. The display is best I’ve ever seen, the device feels excellent in hand. And I love the bright colors after the iPhone dark ages. Oh – and you can use it with mittens too. The capacitative display is tuned really sharp – sometimes the device registers my touch before I actually have touched it.

The thing is also heavy. And I like it. Makes the iPhones feel like a toy. No doubt, one could use it as a hammer. The finishing touch – the huge mass combined with the short vibe when you hit back or home key in lumia – awesome feedback for user.

Moving from iPhone to Winphone – the Essentials

You can pretty much guess how it goes. Nothing you have on iCloud will work on winphone. iCloud calendars will not work. The address book will not work. iCloud mail is treated as lowlife in winphone – you can make an IMAP connection, with sync set twice an hour. Not quite the instant push notification you got used to up in the iCloud.

Good news – you can get GMail to sync with the winphone with Google Sync. Google calendars, address book and mail sync nicely (although you need your old iDevice to make it happen – the page on which you configure the sync does not work with any IE version). The bad news is that this will apparently end this summer. The result: brace yourself for Microsoft’s outlook.com experience. It will be your default mail & calendar host after getting a winphone. You can try and fight the windmills, but this is how it’s going to be very soon. Live with it.

Moving music & vids to Lumia was easy – MS has an app for that. Reads your iTunes playlists & other stuff and takes care of the transfer. Worked nicely, so I guess I can keep iTunes as my primary audio & video manager. Good.

Windows 8 phone

The Windows 8 user interface ideology is new and exciting. The front page live tiles you can arrange as you like feels good after the iPhone stiffness. The hard cornered, no shadow, two color theme look fresh. That is – until next UI fad appears. The animations are cool, and they run smooth and produce the WOW effect you needed. Good work indeed.

I didn’t even realize how much I had missed this: When you hook up the winphone to your PC, the phone appears on the File Exploder! Transfer the photos, music, vids, documents – anything you want – between the phone and computer as a normal file copy. This IS the way it was meant to be. Straight and clean. Sad it doesn’t work like this on Mac, you have to use the app.

The apps

The good ones.

There is Netflix, and it works perfectly. I watched an episode of the Walking Dead on it, and it never crashed. The UI is even better than in iPhone. And the Facebook app – not that bad, just a little different. Too bad I am not that big a Facebook fan.

Not quite there yet.

Then there are the apps that in theory exist, but… An example: Official Twitter shows every tweet with timestamp one hour late (the “just now” tweets are shown as “one hour ago”). When I click on a tweet, it sometimes opens another tweet I swear I didn’t click – if it opens any at all. The “scroll to top” gesture seems to be totally missing in winphone (the top bar click in iphone)? Quite annoying in Twitter in particular.

LinkedIn; in theory, yes, it’s there, but even more “OOPS” messages than in iPhone. Major bugs in the news part. The showstopper kind of OOPS bugs. I have really low tolerance on this kind of stuff. If it does not work, don’t publish it just yet.

The ones missing.

And then there are the apps that aren’t there at all, and I doubt never will be. Like Google. No Google maps. No Google Plus (which I am personally addicted to). No YouTube. No Google anything. It’s hard to imagine a world without Google. Don’t get confused with apps named “Google” something. They are not the real thing. Usually they are links that will open IE with the Google page.

… and the screwed-up ones

This is dedicated to Microsoft way of doing apps. Bloat them unusable with features: Like “People”. “Music and Video”. MS just doesn’t get the idea of mobile app; You do small apps which do the particular task they are designed for, and NOTHING MORE. Address book shows my contact’s mail etc. Not facebook status, twitter feeds, or images they have posted about their lunch. I have different apps for that. Music & Video app is a music player. You know, with play and stop buttons, and a convinient way of choosing what I’d like to hear just now. NOT a music store, or even a wall to advertise the currently trending songs. Boy did I spend time finding my playlists in the app. Hidden well. I didn’t dare to edit the list. Too scary.

Things I just can’t forgive

The intolerable: The OS native app updater just cannot crash, as it currently does. The updater app has tried to update HERE Drive+ beta for 3 days now, and every times it tries – it crashes with an hex code for the user.

Secondly; If you have an ecosystem which controls which apps get to be published in the marketplace, you don’t let ANYBODY publish apps that are just links to open IE with predestined page. You let only APPS in. The best part was an app named “YouTube”, published by Microsoft itself which just opened mobile youtube in IE. WTF?

Feelings after one week…

I’d love to love this phone. The device is awesome. The Windows 8 user interface ideology is excitingly fresh. I love the downloadable, unlimited worldwide offline Navteq maps that only Nokia has.

But.

Most of my favourite apps – not there. The ones that are – crashing, behaving oddly, or cheap copies by 3rd parties. This wouldn’t be a problem if I hadn’t used the perfectly working versions on my iPhone for years – It’s hard to forgive the version 0.1 problems on the new platform.

Of course there is the counterargument: “But it has Office!“. Who in the right mind wants to use Excel or Word on phone size screen for other than viewing the documents? My first task: Remove office from your start screen taking valuable space.

I’ll try next to figure out if the “business user” argument is valid somehow. I am not quite convinced yet. I’ll keep using my cool Lumia, but – I keep my iPhone nearby and battery loaded…

Articles of the week

New business ideas

  • Start up a website: “The apps that actually work on your winphone”. Have to think about this one seriously.
  • Calendar app with week view. Howcome this is never included in the first versions?
  • Address book app that does not bloat you with things you don’t want to see.

“Not quite there yet.”
not quite there yet

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