Thoughts on Windows Phone 8 from an Android User

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In the last few weeks we have have seen a couple major announcements in the mobile world. Apple’s iPhone 5 was announced, and Nokia and Microsoft teamed up to show off Windows Phone 8 on the Lumia 920.

Shortly after the iPhone 5 was announced I wrote an editorial about what an Android guy like me thought about the new phone and the new OS. Apparently is struck a nerve with our readers. One reader in particular thought we should give the same treatment to Windows Phone 8 — and so do we!

What’s with the version number?

Let’s not fool ourselves: this isn’t really version 8. Windows Phone 7 was really “Windows Phone 1”. Windows Phone 7.5 was version 2. Windows Phone 7.8 was version 2.5. That makes Windows Phone 8 version 3. But what’s in a number, right?

Although Android sticks to a pretty reliable versioning scheme, it’s not free from my “version number” criticism either. Not only did Android “start” with version 1.5, we refer to them by their “sweets” code names (from Cupcake to Jelly Bean) — but that is kind of cool.

It’s not just a grid of icons

One of the things Windows Phone has going is its homescreen with Live Tiles. These tiles came in various sizes (and as far as I can tell) weren’t re-sizable before version 3 Windows Phone 8. Now you can take a large tile and shrink it down to a one by one title! Joe Belfiore showed us this at the Nokia event. What his screen ended up looking like? That’s right, a grid of icons. Just like an iPhone. Sorta.

But even if you don’t re-size all your tiles into just a big grid of icons and leave them all in their default configuration, I have to ask: is it just me, or is all of that animation and “motion” really distracting? I get frustrated with my phone when it pops up with a new email, tweet, Google+ post, calendar appointment, or text message — and that’s only when I have a legitimate “new” item to look at. Having ten or so tiles on my screen constantly flipping, sliding up, or in some other way animating or changing… how can you guys look at that without going crazy?! I’d constantly see that motion out of the corner of my eye and my attention would be drawn to the phone. After the dozenth time I’d probably put the animations on “mute” by throwing my Windows Phone against the nearest wall.

Deep digging social integration

That sounds really, really lame — but its not! Being able to see at a glance what your friends are up to (regardless of what social network they’re on) is really cool! Unfortunately your friends have to belong to the “cool” social networks because not all of them are supported. Facebook and Twitter are supported but what about Google+? Instagram? Pinterest? What about your friend’s own blog? Are entries from any of those networks aggregated and displayed?

Hardware

I’ve got to be honest here. The Nokia hardware has me envious. Such sleek lines. Such bold colors. And that camera! Oh that wonderful  camera!

Is that all you’ve got?

What about the smoothness? What about the horizontal scrolling? What about (insert your favorite Windows Phone feature here)? Good questions! Actually, what I mentioned is pretty much all that “stuck” with me. Should I have seen something else and included it here? Probably. I left out a lot that sounded like it was “Nokia-specific” which may end up being cross-device, but until we see more devices running Windows Phone 8 we won’t know for sure.

What about you? What about Windows Phone 8 has you itching for its release? What feature do you think Android users like me should be jealous of? Don’t hold back! Let us know in the comments!

Thanks: Rich H.

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About The Author
Joe Levi
Joe graduated from Weber State University with two degrees in Information Systems and Technologies. He has carried mobile devices with him for more than a decade, including Apple's Newton, Microsoft's Handheld and Palm Sized PCs, and is Pocketnow's "Android Guy".By day you'll find Joe coding web pages, tweaking for SEO, and leveraging social media to spread the word. By night you'll probably find him writing technology and "prepping" articles, as well as shooting video.Read more about Joe Levi here.