In 2010 I bought my first Windows Phone device, beginning a love affair with the slick user interface and writing endless posts and user guides and generally evangelising the platform. So why have I switched to Android?
Me & Windows Phone
It’s a strange feeling to be using an Android device as my main phone, but a good one. When I switched to Windows Phone in October 2010 as an early adopter of Microsoft’s new operating system, I had been running Android for the previous 18 months. Prior to that I had owned a series of Windows Mobile devices (a few of which could also run Android) going back to 2004.
Since 2010, I have owned a HTC HD7, two Nokia Lumia 800s and a Nokia Lumia 920. Putting the 920 aside has been tough, due to its astonishingly good camera. However, despite endless guides (covering everything from email to unlocking first generation devices), a MakeUseOf manual and many app and game reviews, I’ve decided to make my new HTC One my main phone – and return to Android. The live tile-esque Blinkfeed tool in the latest HTC Sense UI, meanwhile, has helped to ease the transition from Windows Phone’s Modern user interface.
It’s not that I’ve been away from Android – in the intervening time I’ve owned a HTC HD2 (modded to run Android) and a HP TouchPad (again, with Android installed), both of which I’ve modified to run Android ROMs – however, it is good to be able to use a dedicated Android handset again.
It would be churlish to try to suggest that the slimline design of the much lighter HTC One hasn’t turned my head. The Nokia Lumia 920 is surprisingly heavy in comparison – I’d never really noticed just how doorstop-like it really is.
Shortcomings of Windows Phone 8
Over the past few months I’ve noticed problems with my expectations of Windows Phone. My assessment of the My platform’s failings and omissions underlined for me exactly what was wrong (such as the notification bar and the lack of connectivity toggle options), and why I needed to move to a platform that was more suitable for my day to day use.
Specifically, the inability to easily share links and blog on my Windows Phone were the main issues. While link sharing is possible, the inability to link to specific apps proved troubling for me. Similarly, the omission of WordPress as a sharing option (something that works well on Android and iOS) made me realise that after three years Windows Phone 8 really should be far more advanced than it is.
Me, Mobile Working & Efficiency
As a freelance writer and blogger, time management and efficient completion of tasks is vital to my survival. Whether writing or researching, having a device that does what I need and offering the tools to complete the task quickly is vital. Why spend time emailing a link when it can be quickly saved to a WordPress draft or added to a repository of similar references?
Windows Phone 8 has its good points when it comes to productivity. For instance there is the extremely useful OneNote app, a triumph from Microsoft that thankfully is also available on Android!
Meanwhile, Windows Phone has given me an introduction to voice recognition, advised me when updates to my newsreader and podcast manager were available and of course provided me with the native Microsoft Office tools, which I’ve used extensively for mobile working.
How Android Improves My Efficiency
The quest for information drives my professional life. As a result of this, I need to be able to find, share and collate as much as possible, sorting the wheat from the chaff, without losing time that I would later need for writing and networking.
Thanks to my switch to Android, I can now perform research work easily and efficiently (Weave is a great newsreader on Windows Phone, but Android has a much stronger selection, although Feedly’s recent misbehaviour makes me regret placing my faith in them.
Meanwhile, Office 365 is now available for Android, which means I can get the same collection of Office apps on my HTC One. As for WordPress, the Android version doesn’t refuse to upload photos and even offers the ability to browse the snaps already uploaded. Hardly advanced, but it makes you wonder what the developers of the Windows Phone version are playing at.
Finally, the superior implementation of Dropbox (superior, that is, to even Microsoft’s own SkyDrive on Windows Phone) means that my wife and I can easily view photos of our children taken on different devices. Windows Phone doesn’t offer any automatic photo upload options beyond SkyDrive and Facebook, neither of which works for both of us.
Why There Is Still A Place For Windows Phone
While my migration to Android has almost completed, don’t think that you’ve seen the last of my Windows Phone articles. The Nokia devices are a superb collection and the Finnish group is clearly taking an influential path in determining what users want from their phones.
It seems that Nokia has determined its market, certainly in the UK and Europe, and identified its typical user – one that wants to use the most stylish smartphones and accessories, but less bothered by the productivity on offer from Android and iOS. Instead, their focus is almost purely on photos and social networking. In this regard, my old Nokia Lumia 920 might be considered a perfect match. One look at an evening’s TV in the UK will show product placement of Nokia Windows Phones to a considerable degree. Their presence is widespread on screen and growing in real life, and the popularity of the brand coupled and their social network friendliness makes Windows Phone very suitability for a particular type of user.
The thing is, that user is no longer me.
Hey Android, I’m back.