Three months with Windows Phone 7

I wrote about my first week with Windows Phone 7 back in January, and I meant to post an update but never got around to it until now. I’ve had my new phone (LG Optimus 7) for about three months, which I suppose means it is no longer new! I’m still really loving the platform, but I do have a better sense of what’s missing and what could be improved.

LG OPTIMUS 7
Photo by suanie

Fortunately I didn’t have to wait very long for the “NoDo” update (poor AT&T customers) so I have been enjoying copy & paste and the other benefits for a while now. It works as expected, without any issues. The only oddity is that the paste icon disappears after you paste something, and you have to swipe to get it back. I did notice an improvement in speed after the update, but that’s pretty much it. Oh the GAL for my one Exchange 2003 account now works as well, which is handy.

The real update is known as “Mango” and is slated to be delivered later this year, perhaps as “Windows Phone 7.5”. It’ll contain a ton of new features, such as IE9 Mobile, Twitter integration, improved SkyDrive integration, third-party multitasking, more Live Tile functionality, and improved software capabilities (making apps like Skype possible). Obviously IE9 will make a big difference to the overall experience, and the Twitter integration is nice, but I hope they fix a number of the outstanding issues in addition to delivering new features (such as the problems with Live Tiles).

There’s a giant wishlist thread on the Microsoft Answers site, but here are the things I’d like to see improved:

  • The camera app needs to be fixed to remember my settings. It’s so annoying to select anti-shake every time I want to take a picture.
  • Apparently custom ringtones are coming in Mango (finally I get a basic ring) and I hope it also provides the ability to change the ring volume independently of the other sounds (like alarms or reminders).
  • SkyDrive integration in the Office Hub would be great, so that I can open and save documents on SkyDrive. OneNote already syncs with SkyDrive, but not the other document types. Fortunately this is slated to come in Mango.
  • On the topic of the cloud, I’d love to have Windows Live Mesh support, if only to synchronize bookmarks in IE (which I already do across my computers).
  • I still can’t quite believe that Windows Phone 7 shipped without a Windows Live Messenger client. An official client still doesn’t exist, though there is a third-party one available. This is a pretty glaring omission, especially considering there are official clients on other mobile platforms!
  • There are a few things I’d like to see improved in the calendar app. A weekly view would be really handy, and the ability to sync more than just the primary calendar for an account would be great. I’d also love for both the calendar and Exchange to support the colored categories. I use them all the time in Outlook and Outlook Web Access and would love to see them on the phone.
  • An option for a unified email inbox would be really useful.
  • Something needs to be done with the Bing Maps app. I never use it, because it is so useless for me. Why do I have to specify “Edmonton, Alberta” for it to know I mean the Edmonton I am actually located in? It has my location information! Other issues include:
    • I have to enter actual addresses, rather than business names (which I can do with Google).
    • Directions only work maybe one out of every five attempts, and take forever to load (directions always load, and quickly, with Google).
    • There is no ability to get transit directions (which I can get with Google).
  • Maybe the solution would be to have a Google Maps app, but that doesn’t seem likely, at least not an official one.

It has been really encouraging to see the number of apps growing significantly, though it would be great to see a few more “official” ones (like Skype, coming after the Mango update). I still haven’t found a news app that I really love, nor a weather app (I am using The Weather Channel right now because WeatherBug’s live tile stopped working). That said, the apps I use most are all there and work really well (Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, etc). The only app I have issues with is Flickr, it always seems to crash for me. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by a few apps as well, such as TuneIn Radio and LG’s QR Reader.

Overall I’m still really happy with my decision to go with Windows Phone 7. It helps me get things done on the go, easily and efficiently. It is also fun to use (Sharon and I play a lot of Fruit Ninja)! The platform works well today, and the future looks bright!

  • Mike Gravel

    I’m an Apple fan, but I must say that I love the Windows Phone 7 interface. Looks truly unique, not just an iOS knock off, i.e. Samsung. With some work, it seems like it could be a true competitor to iOS, which would be good for all smartphone users. I look forward to hearing more about it.

  • Logan Foster

    I made the switch as well but went with the Samsung Focus and I have to agree that WindowsPhone7 is indeed a fantastic device and I have not once regretted ditching my iPhone for it.

    BTW have you had much time to work with the dev tools yet Mack? I found them to be pretty awesome and easy to utilize to make apps. Microsoft did a great job at making app development accessible to all regardless of your training and background.

  • Anonymous

    I ditched my iPhone3G for the Samsung WP7…so here’s my own rundown on WP7…

    1. Ditto to the missing MSN Live Client. Disgusting to say the least, that not only does MSFT not have an official client for their own phone, but the only one that is available has pathetically low ratings.

    2. The iPhone wins in terms of “making connections” that the user doesn’t have to even think about. If you get a phone call, you can tag the number and add them right to your contacts in a very smooth process. This is just one example. On the WP7, it just feels like some of those “everyday use” connections are missed.

    3. Don’t care about copy and paste. Never did on the iPhone either but I guess that’s just me and my ultra fat fingers. lol

    4. As a developer trying to survive, the WP7 loses big time to the iPhone because of MS store policies only paying app developers 2x a year. Really?

    All that being said, I’m super jazzed about Mango. The released videos of HTML5 speed reading were impressive, and it might allow developer toolkits (such as PhoneGap) to expand into the WP7 world.

  • How does WP7 compare against iOS or Android?

    • I don’t have an Android or an iPhone, so I can’t really provide you with a strong answer. I have used all three platforms, however. I think the WP7 interface is definitely unique. There are some things that iOS does better (I like the way it installs apps better than WP7) and there are some things that Android does better (you get way more control).

      For me the choice came down to the ecosystem of stuff I use. The vast majority of it is Microsoft-based, like Exchange, OneNote, etc., so WP7 made sense for me. If your ecosystem is Apple-based, perhaps iOS makes more sense, etc.