By Adam Z. Lein | September 27, 2012 10:28 AM
This is a question for the Windows Phones users out there who love their phones. Just for fun, let’s think about what it would take to get you to switch to Android. People switch phones all the time. Usually when their carrier contract expires every two years, but sometimes even sooner than that if a phone becomes terribly frustrating or if it breaks accidentally or something new is just so incredibly amazing that you have to have it.
Current Reasons to Switch
I don’t get it.
Often people will switch away from Windows Phone if they can’t understand it. The design is different from the usual “app icons on a background picture” interface that we’ve all been using for almost 30 years on normal desktop computers. Windows Phone has moved very far away from that paradigm since, during the years of Windows Mobile, everyone said the app icons desktop interface doesn’t work on a phone. So in that case it’s sure to be unfamiliar while Android does give you the usual app listing that many will be familiar with. This type of user that would return a Windows Phone in favor of an Android phone due to their inability to instantly grasp the new style of user interface usually do so very quickly without giving themselves a chance to learn the basics (which may be much simpler than Android in many ways).
I want more apps.
This is the gold standard complaint for new operating systems and it’s an especially prevalent mantra for Windows Phone even though in reality Windows Phone may very well support all of the apps you want. Of course there are instances where it does not, and for those you’ll probably have to switch to a different platform like Android.
I want to tweak everything everyday.
One of the things about Windows Phone is that it’s designed not to require heavy tweaking like the old Windows Mobile did. Instead, its customizations are designed to be more automated and content-based. For example instead of you having to go in and change a background image for a hub or live tile, things change automatically based on what’s going on. A lot of people still really like all of the power to dig under the hood and change things that other people probably wouldn’t have the time or desire to get into. This is another big reason why many of the old Windows Mobile users, who loved all the customizations they could do, have switched to Android which offers a similarly high level of manual customization options. Of course, you don’t have to tweak everything in Android, but then you might get bored with it pretty quickly.
More cutting-edge/esoteric features
Android has a lot more “innovative” yet perhaps not so useful features. If you want to be on the cutting edge of experimental stuff, Android is where it’s at. The whole 3D screens and cameras thing didn’t exactly catch on, but Android certainly had it. Maybe you think it’s cool to move icons around on your screen, by holding your finger on one and then turning your whole body to the left or right. Maybe you want to launch the camera by turning on your phone, holding a finger on the screen, then holding the phone up vertically and rotating it. Or maybe you think pressing a button to make a call is for suckers and would rather just hold the phone up to your head to start a call. There’s so many more of these strange new features coming to Android, where as Windows Phone still keeps things pretty simple and doesn’t add something unless it’s a little more thought-out first.
Future Reasons to Switch
Those were a few current reasons for Windows Phone users to want to switch to Android, but how could Android change itself in order to entice you even more to switch?
For me personally, Android feels like an upgrade to the old Windows Mobile of 2000-2010 that I absolutely loved. It’s got the same advantages and the same disadvantages and pretty much the same interaction model. It’s just more of the same. For me to switch whole heartedly to Android, it would need to bring out something completely different that changes the way I work for the better.
Since switching to Windows Phone, it feels like Microsoft has designed the next level of user interface. It’s not just apps that you open and use and then switch to other apps. It’s functionality and content that is provided by 3rd parties (developers, friends, online services, etc.) and integrated into a singular phone experience that makes everything seem more effortless. That’s a pretty advanced concept for a smartphone and computers in general for that matter. Android would need a completely new level of user interaction in order for me to really take it seriously. It would need customization features that I don’t have to waste time to initiate. It would need a modern and cohesive design language that spans its ecosystem. Google still hasn’t figured out how to make one place for email that can do all of their Gmail stuff as well as access all other email accounts… or a series of apps that simply have their menu buttons in a consistent location. The concept of a cohesive ecosystem still seems awfully distant. Working well with other ecosystems is important, too, but Android is already pretty good at that.
So for all the Windows Phone fans out there, what would Google have to do to entice you to switch to Android? Or, if you’re an Android fan, Joe Levi asks what would it take to get you to switch to Windows Phone?