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5 Things iOS & Android Can Still Learn From Windows Phone

Christian Cawley 25-09-2014

Windows Phone might not be the platform Microsoft (and others) hoped for, but it can still teach iOS and Android a thing or two.


Do you use a Windows Phone? Perhaps you tried the platform but went back to Android Why I Quit Windows Phone And Switched To Android 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, generally evangelising the platform. So why have I switched to... Read More or iOS (or even BlackBerry). While it might not sell in the same volumes as the iPhone or Android handsets, Windows Phone still has its place 5 Cool Things You Can Now Do With Windows Phone 8.1 Windows Phone 8.1 offers new tools to help manage your digital and offline life. Get the most out of Windows Phone with our tips. Read More in the smartphone market, if only to push the market leaders to improve their operating systems and make better handsets.

Here are five ways iOS and Android can improve in the coming years.

Faster Results With Fewer Taps

We’ll start with the time it takes to perform particular tasks. Windows Phone launched with a few surprises, one being the speed with which a photo could be snapped and uploaded to Facebook. Microsoft didn’t need to display any “sequence shortened” captions on their adverts for the platform.


For instance, a photo can be uploaded to Facebook in just three steps Facebook, Instagram & Vine Video Uploads Made Easy on Windows Phone 8.1 Windows Phone has finally come of age with the 8.1 update, which includes improved video uploading. It's now much easier to share your Windows Phone videos with friends via social networks. Read More , and fewer if you use Facebook as your default photo upload location.


Since then, iOS and Android have caught up, but the speed of the Windows Phone 8.1 UI continues to impress. For instance, finding the app you want is a case of swiping left, tapping the first letter you see to display the index, then tapping the first letter of the app you want.

Finding an app on your iPhone or Android device means opening the app drawer, and scrolling. Then scrolling some more, perhaps for a while.

Windows Phone is littered with these neat shortcuts to save time Get The Most Out Of Windows Phone 8.1 With These Tips Windows Phone 8.1 offers much more novelty than just Cortana. Let us guide you to the hidden gems. Read More , meaning that you can do more, quicker.

Smartphones Need A High Quality Camera

The Nokia Lumia series of phones (particularly 9xx and 10xx) devices feature superior Carl Zeiss lenses and image processing making them the best Windows Phone camera devices and in some ways superior to the iPhone’s camera.



Meanwhile, Android devices from Motorola, Samsung and even Sony have struggled with cameras. When the Nokia Lumias can be used to create stunning films like these You Won't Believe These 5 Videos Were Filmed On A Windows Phone Who in their right mind would make a movie with a smartphone? Talented filmmakers maybe? The following movies have been recorded on Windows Phone devices. Read More , it’s clear that this aspect of the Windows Phone platform is particularly attractive (and the main reason I still own my Nokia).

This comparison of the HTC One M7, Nokia Lumia 920 and iPhone 5 illustrates the differences and similarities. Clearly, Google needs to address this weakness across the Android family, perhaps by insisting on a specification for better quality cameras.

Easier Access To Beta Releases & Previews

Although Apple has made it easier for iPhone and iPad users to try the beta version of iOS 8, it has taken some time to get this far (eight releases!) and still requires a $99 per year fee.


For Windows Phone developers You Need No Development Skills to Create Professional Windows Phone Apps App development on Windows Phone has been restricted to those with knowledge of programming – until now. With Windows Phone App Studio you can create your own apps – but what, exactly, can you do... Read More and those interested in preview releases (such as the Developer Preview of Windows Phone 8.1) this sort of access is available free.


Limiting a beta release to those who have paid for developer status seems shortsighted, and likely to result in problems that would have been overcome by making it more widely available. This is the tactic Microsoft has used, and it has helped with bug fixing and building up interest in Windows Phone 8.1 and Cortana.

Enjoying beta versions of Android releases isn’t usually possible, although if you’re interested you can probably find a custom ROM developer who could do with some bug spotting.


Want To Avoid Jailbreak? Work With The Hackers

Jailbreaking the iPhone and iPad How To Jailbreak iOS 7.1.x & Install Cydia With Pangu Last week a Chinese team called Pangu released an untethered jailbreak for iOS 7.1.1. Here's how to jailbreak your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch with the latest payload. Read More has been a popular pastime for users who wish to gain more control over its settings and add apps that require an enhanced level of permissions.


On Windows Phone, no such problem exists. This isn’t because Windows Phone has a smaller market, either; unlocking phones to make customizations and install custom ROMs pretty much began on Windows Mobile (before the community largely centred around migrated to Android around 2007).

Microsoft has been very clever in engaging with the hacker community, starting with the token-based unlock system for Windows Phone 7 The Secret To Unlocking Your Windows Phone Windows Phones come locked by default, with users only able to install apps from the Windows Phone Marketplace on a region-specific basis. This can result in some disparity between users based in different territories and... Read More and latterly with making it easy to run self-developed apps using a developer account.

So far Microsoft’s support for this community has acted as a form of evangelism, and is a tactic Apple could certainly benefit from, if only to save them the bother of patching the various Jailbreak vulnerabilities every few months.

Give Your Personal Digital Assistant “Character”

One of the big successes of Windows Phone 8.1 has been the introduction of Cortana, a virtual digital assistant in the mould of Siri on iOS. Where Cortana differs, however, is in the charm and warmth of the voice artist, Jen Taylor, who also voices the fictional Cortana in the Halo series. As well as being incredibly useful How Cortana Became The "Other Woman" In My Life She appeared one day and changed my life. She knows exactly what I need and has a wicked sense of humour. It's little wonder that I've fallen for the charms of Cortana. Read More , you’ll find that Cortana is also pretty funny Cortana Talks Back: Laugh, Cry & Love With Windows Phone's Digital Assistant Bored with no one to talk to? Why not strike up a conversation with your Windows Phone? These cues will make Cortana talk. Read More .

Siri is arguably part of the way to having something approaching character (obviously difficult for an inanimate object) and Apple clearly realise that there is some importance in developing this side of their tool to promote wider use.

Google, however, is light years behind with Google Now, which is otherwise a very useful voice search system. Forcing the user to read results can be problematic, however, especially while driving, which is a shame as Android has several good car mode apps The 5 Best Dashboard Car Mode Apps For Android Compared Want a safe way to use your Android smartphone while driving? These car mode apps make it easy. Read More .

Let’s All Learn From Windows Phone

As we wind down our coverage of Windows Phone at MakeUseOf, it is important to recognise that the platform remains popular in certain territories. For instance, it’s impossible to switch on a TV in the UK without seeing a Nokia Lumia being used by an actor, and this product placement has resulted in some strong sales.

But failing to meet the expectations of experienced market analysts despite the backing of a multi-billion dollar corporation is a staggering failure.

If the world is to learn anything from Windows Phone, it is probably that it Microsoft squandered a significant share of the market that it had with Windows Mobile and failed to regain it with improved hardware and a superior OS.

Where do you stand on Windows Phone? Are you surprised by its performance in the marketplace? Tell us in the comments.

Related topics: App Development, Windows Phone.

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  1. mary
    January 26, 2015 at 6:07 am

    I have a question for the windows phone 920 I think its the first one but anyways I upgraded to windows 8.1 and now the pictures I've taken after the update are nowhere to be found?? HELP PLEASE

    • Christian Cawley
      February 2, 2015 at 8:39 am

      Even if not on your phone, those pictures should be on your OneDrive. Check there.

  2. Chad
    January 10, 2015 at 12:56 am

    Love the Lumia 1520, Windows Phone 8.1 is clearly the best OS; however, the fact that developers of applications seem to only release their products for Android and iOS, have caused potential buyers to shy away. We've seen similar issues with video game consoles. I have an HTC One, Android and have access to a lot of applications that I would hate to loose access to. My mother just got her Lumia, and she loves it. I sure hope the software developers see the value in porting their "apps" to Windows Phone.

    I believe that if the all applications were available for Android, Blackberry, iOS & Windows, the Windows Phone would dominate the mobile market.

    • Christian Cawley
      January 11, 2015 at 9:45 am

      Microsoft has gone to enormous lengths to make it simpler for apps and games to be ported to Windows Phone, so the fact that this is still all-in-all a slow transition for many developers is particularly galling, especially when it comes to games.

  3. Nicky
    December 12, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    Windows phone is the best and fastest .....i love it

  4. Jermaine
    October 29, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    Love my Windows Phone, just wish more of the apps that are available on iOS and android were available. The list is beginning to grow too large for me to resist the move.

  5. lumia fan
    October 3, 2014 at 8:01 am

    One of the best feature in Lumia phones is offline navigation, which is not either in ios or android

  6. Rikker
    October 1, 2014 at 3:02 am

    I am glad to hear that makeuseof will still be covering the Windows Phone as it is a gem. I read much of the coverage here and on a few other sites before giving one a try. I don't have the greatest, flagship WP. After choosing not to conform to Steve Jobs I went android and was happy with the abilities of my htc phone but not thrilled. It was mostly a phone.

    I decided venture into the WP market mostly after reading up on them and then buying a Surface tablet and getting to know it and the metro (wrong term, I know) interface. I made the choice to for go the "desk top" and just use the new Windows. I like it very well and maybe that's why the WP is such a hit with me.

    The WP just does what I want it to do with little or no fuss. With the iPhone and my androids, I had to think in their image so to speak. Maybe I am like the Windows guy in the commercials or something (I do power down and reboot every night, so maybe my machines can be given the same opportunity).

    What ever it may be I find the WP easy and fun to use. I use it for more than just a phone. Reading email, screening craigslist ads, social updates, e-book reading, pod casts... I found these more trouble than they were worth on my android phone and used my nook instead (I know it's android and maybe on the way out).

    The WP works for some of us. Thanks for the articles.

  7. james
    September 28, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    Ok thanks for the clarification. Will you still be able to find old WP articles?

    • Christian C
      September 28, 2014 at 12:30 pm

      Most definitely! They'll be indexed under Windows, and some under Games.

      I've written about 95% or more of them since 2011, so I'm a little paternal towards those articles, even the rubbish ones :)

  8. James
    September 28, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    Ceasing WP coverage just as it is getting real good? Cortana is just plain awesome. She's being updated with new features all the time. Better rethink your choice to end wp coverage. Sent from my WP phone Lumia 635.

    • Christian C
      September 28, 2014 at 12:16 pm


      MakeUseOf is not ending Windows Phone coverage. We're closing the Windows Phone section and merging it into Windows.

      You know, just like Microsoft is.

  9. Eddy
    September 28, 2014 at 6:05 am

    I just tell Cortana to Open any App... Tap and Hold search...

  10. Pranay Parab
    September 28, 2014 at 2:30 am

    Nice article. Apple has Spotlight search for apps. I feel it's faster than WP app search. Swipe down on home screen, type a couple of letters and you can open the app. :-)

  11. Ben L
    September 27, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    No, not really

  12. Aaron Abraham N
    September 27, 2014 at 5:11 am

    I CAME to this article after making a search in bing news for Windows Phone. I have been a avid follower of WP news for past 2 years and know of all the good tech blogs that report on Windows Phones on top of dedicated WP and Nokia fan blogs and have never recall knowing or coming to this site before. This article is good and its a surprise that I didn't come here before. News of WP closing in the site (I read it in the verge as headline but didn't check it out) is sad and wrong I wish you could reverse the decision as WP, Nokia fans are many and very loyal and avid.

    • Christian C
      September 28, 2014 at 12:17 pm

      I didn't know we'd been mentioned on The Verge? Do you have a link?

      Windows Phone will still appear on MakeUseOf, under Windows. It won't have its own section and will not be as regularly featured, that's the only real difference.

  13. Shubhankar Adhikari
    September 27, 2014 at 3:27 am

    Why are you winding down your coverage of WP?
    As analysts, you must realise why WP is a google times better than iOS and Android. Apple-crazed users may not get it, but you certainly do.
    Sales isn't the indicator of everything, as Apple will tell you. I'm disappointed and probably not coming back.

  14. Joe B
    September 26, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    What happens if WP9 is really awesome? Resume coverage? In spite of some glaring shortcomings, 8.1 is still the most user friendly phone OS I've tested, at least from a daily use point of view.
    Also, while adoption isn't as wide as anticipated, I have yet to meet someone who tried WP8 and went "nah, this isn't for me". IMHO, Android and BBOS aren't even in the same ballpark, and iOS is, well... iOS.

    • Christian C
      September 28, 2014 at 12:19 pm

      Coverage of Windows Phone 8.1 and eventually Windows Phone 9/Windows 9 on a Phone is not being stopped. We're just rethinking how it is featured, and one of the things we decided to do was merge it into our Windows section, just as Microsoft is merging its desktop and smartphone OS.

  15. Michael
    September 26, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    That point about Cortana is great... Unless you're in the UK then instead of getting Jen Taylor, you know, ACTUAL Cortana, we get some random British woman that might as well be a Satnav. It's shit.

    • Christian C
      September 26, 2014 at 7:05 pm

      Oh that sucks, who did they get?

      I'm in the UK, but still playing the dev preview, so I get Pure Cortana.

  16. Kevin
    September 26, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    I know this is aimed at windows phone but a lot of things can be done just as well by my BB10 phone, they deserve a mention as well.

  17. Brian P
    September 26, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    I've had WindowsPhone for years. Absolutely fell in love with WP7 and the 7.8 update was awesome. WindowsPhone 8 and now 8.1 keep improving (except recent separation of all the messaging apps - was nice to have messages from various portals all in one messaging center). Microsoft does seem to make huge leaps forward and then whacks away at it until it's broken though - like Zune. Let's hope that their master plan of streamlining an OS for phone, tablet, notebook, desktop works as well as it seems to so far. As far as developers and programmers go, I am surprised that more don't create quality apps for Windows as the code is something like only 10% different between Windows 8 and WP8. Oh well. I, too, am sad to see MakeUseOf say they will discontinue WindowsPhone coverage. Does that even make sense? As a review, tips and tricks type of site why would you even consider that there are some things not worth covering? It just seems a bit odd.

    • Christian C
      September 26, 2014 at 6:11 pm

      We're not discontinuing coverage as such, but closing the Windows Phone section.

      There are other ways in which we'll still include it, most likely under the Windows section, which makes sense as Microsoft is doing exactly the same thing.

      However future WP articles will likely be less frequent than they have been up until July this year.

  18. Scott M
    September 26, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    I love using my Nokia Lumia 635.The best phone I've had the pleasure of operating.

  19. Colin
    September 26, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    I just wanted to say, that the only reason I even knew this site existed, was because of Cortana highlighting the demise of Windows Phone Coverage on this site. Originally I had no clue it was a mobile news site. I actually thought it was a gadget, or an app.

    Since I've moved to Windows Phone, (and can't legitimately go back to Android or iPhone, except for a couple of games - though I seem to have stopped playing them anyways), I find the decision by MakeUseOf a little saddening.

    On the other hand, in *ALL* my searches researching phones over the last couple of years, I've found dozens of sites I enjoy, bunches of sites that have useful information about all platforms, and I still hadn't run into MakeUseOf. Now I've run into it a few times thanks to Cortana, and read some older articles, and I must say that I enjoyed each one. (They were all by the same author Christian Cawley)

    It's sad that it took me this long to find the site, only to have it stop covering Windows Phone, but I will be going back to reading some of the older articles.

    I hope that, as Windows Phone starts to gain more than one manufacturer, that devices become (hopefully) more readily available in North America, because, as dismal as the selection is in the US, my wanderings in Canada have shown me that trying out a Windows Phone is almost impossible there. At least the 635 has shown up, but if you want a higher end model....the NEWEST phone available is the Lumia 1020 - which, while excellent, is not exactly current. Could you imagine if Android ONLY had Motorola for all these years?

  20. Gareth Schofield
    September 26, 2014 at 9:43 am

    I Use a Lumia 820 having made the switch from Android a few years back,whilst the app issue has been a bit of a pain,its been slowly improving over the last year or so,and i can honestly say ive not regretted making the switch at all,infact my wife also made the switch recently too,as the UI is simple and easy to use

  21. wpuser
    September 26, 2014 at 6:45 am

    Ever since you started writing about WP Cortana keeps picking this site up and Bing news does the same. WP is just getting better and better with every update. It's just not promoted well by most of the tech sites. Most of the authors are iPhone or Android fans and not willing to accept WP is better than what they use.

    • Christian C
      September 26, 2014 at 6:08 pm

      We've been writing about Windows Phone since I joined back in 2011.

      For some reason, few in the WP community seemed to notice!

  22. firesilverblade
    September 26, 2014 at 5:40 am

    Nice article about window phone. I have a Nokia 1520 awesome phone people say it is to big but I say its just right and with Cortana on this phone it's unbelievable. I had about all of android phones and would never ever touch a apple phone. When I made the switch I didn't look back. I am looking forward to window 9 update coming out next year. I hope everyone is liking there window phones.

  23. Anonymous
    September 26, 2014 at 4:29 am

    The articles of this website is now mostly the top on Windows Phone section of bing/cortana news! You should really rethink your decision on dropping WP articles on the future. Nice article btw.

    • Ben S
      September 26, 2014 at 6:18 pm

      We could have never predicted this, but I'm glad Cortana randomly decided to pick this up! It's crazy how these things work out.

  24. James
    September 26, 2014 at 3:25 am

    Windows Phones are awesome.

  25. Anonymous
    September 26, 2014 at 3:24 am

    Still waiting on profile and time managed profiles... looks like Tizen will be the only OS to have that since nokia's Sybian.

  26. Ben S
    September 25, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    I think I can guarantee you not getting any crap comments on this, Christian, as I already drove them all away!

    • Christian C
      September 26, 2014 at 6:07 pm

      I think you brought them here ;)

      What on earth they were doing beforehand is another matter entirely...

  27. roman
    September 25, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    I thought makeuseof was done with windows phone?

    • Ben S
      September 25, 2014 at 7:57 pm

      We're wrapping it up after this month. These are the last few articles.

    • felipe
      September 25, 2014 at 10:27 pm


  28. SuicideNinja
    September 25, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    I have an iPhone for work and an Android from freedompop for kicks. My personal phone is WP8.1. While I could function in iOS and Android they are not as fun to use as Windows Phone for me. I do find it faster to navigate Windows Phone. The live tiles layout customization leaves me with muscle memory I can rely on for the apps I use the need to verify I am clicking the right icon. The social integration makes the system feel complete. I believe WP has had uninformative advertising and "windows" in name gives a negative perception. The app gap doesnt help but most generic users wouldn't notice. As far as usability, I believe they exceeded their peers with 8.1.

    • Christian C
      September 26, 2014 at 6:06 pm

      MS advertising for WP has been inept at best. I believe one of the reasons WP does so well in UK and Europe is because of Nokia's aggressive product placement policy.

  29. Jason
    September 25, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    Quiet hours.

    Easily the best feature on Windows Phone.

    • Christian C
      September 26, 2014 at 6:05 pm

      It's certainly useful and well integrated.