Switching to Windows Phone, Part III

Monday, January 21, 2013 – 122 views

— by la

Now it's time to look at the negatives--but first, a word about apps.

There's no question that there are fewer apps on WP8 than there are on iOS or Android. That shouldn't surprise anyone--it's a newer platform. But there's a lot of FUD out there about it, and my experience is that there's no problem finding equivalent apps, at least for the things I care about.

Here's a few of my favorites:

ADN: DotDot

Twitter: Rowi

Weather: Amazing Weather HD and Weather Flow (still testing both)

Google Reader client: Nextgen Reader

Google Voice client: GoVoice

Dropbox: BoxFiles

Reddit: Baconit

Kindle: Kindle for Windows Phone

ePub reader: Readu

Facebook: Facebook for Windows Phone

Google Maps: gMaps (although the Bing Maps app works really well)

YouTube: MetroTube

Picasa Web Albums: Picasa Metro

Starbucks: Starbucks Finder

Traffic: INRIX Traffic

My bank has an official WP app, Amazon is there, Fandango is there. I'm not a gamer, so I don't care about game apps for the most part. I use the standard mail app with my Outlook.com account. The apps I listed cover 99% of my daily app needs. I'm not seeing a huge problem here. However, if you want to download your local grocery store's app, then no, it might not be here.

And now, the negatives:

  1. If you're hooked on Apple services, save yourself a lot of heartache and buy an iPhone. You won't find iMessages here, or iCloud support. You can't open a Pages file on WP8 as far as I know. And if you're coming from an iPhone, you'll need to deregister your old device from your Apple ID before the Apple servers will allow iPhone users to send you SMS--otherwise, they'll be sending iMessages that go nowhere.

  2. If you're looking for Android-style openness, buy an Android phone. WP8 follows the same practice that iOS does when it comes to default apps. There's no way to tell it to use anything but IE for http links, for example, or to set a different default mail client. Fortunately, the default apps are damn good, but if that bothers you, look elsewhere. The flip side of that is that WP8 feels integrated in a way that Android doesn't, but your priorities should take precedence in your decision.

  3. There are a lot fewer Microsoft Stores out there than Apple Stores, so if you're used to running down to the Genius Bar for stuff, that may be more difficult. Personally, I've never needed to go to the Genius Bar for a phone, but it could happen. There's no Apple Care, so if you need an extended warranty, buy one from your carrier.

  4. The ecosystem for accessories isn't as extensive. You won't find as many different cases, for example. Nor will you find them on sale at the local airport as you race to catch a flight to Tokyo. On the other hand, they all use industry-standard earphones and Micro-USB power supplies, so your Kindle charger should work, for example.

  5. Finally, you'll have to explain to people why you switched. Some will think you're nuts. Fortunately, I've never cared much about that. ;-)

Would I recommend that someone switch? It depends on the person. My wife is addicted to her iPhone, and very happy with it, and as a smart husband I'm not going to disturb that. But if you're willing to try new things, or you just like playing with the new and the shiny, I think you'll be very pleasantly surprised by Windows Phone 8. I've had no regrets about switching, and frankly can't imagine switching back.

This most definitely is not your father's Microsoft. :-)

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