I spent last weekend in California visiting my brother, and I brought three phones with me: the iPhone 5, the HTC One X+ and the Nokia Lumia 920. I switch between all three as my daily drivers these days, and I actually found myself preferring the Lumia 920 to the iPhone 5 a lot of the time. I can’t really put my finger on why, because I love the iPhone 5 for most tasks. Maybe it was simply because it was neat carrying a bright yellow smartphone out on the streets. Something about California beckons for the use of color. I loved my experience with the Lumia 920, as I have since reviewing the phone, but there are several areas where Microsoft can improve the Windows Phone 8 experience.
I’ve nagged about the app ecosystem for a while, so I won’t go digging into that again. First, I’d really like to see the sharing options improved drastically. I wanted to send my photos to Tumblr and Instagram, for example. Neither app exists (OK, I won’t dig deeper than that!), which was kind of a bummer when it came to trying to send my photos out to every social network. So aside from having those apps on the phone, it would be amazing if Microsoft included native support for sharing to sites besides Twitter and Facebook.
At one point I was shopping with my fiance when my brother asked where we were. I said the name of the store on the Santa Monica promenade, but he didn’t know where it was. I’m not familiar with the area, so I fired up the text messaging app and sent my location on the map. My brother uses Android and he wasn’t able to view the location. That’s crazy – why? What’s the point of being able to share your location with others if they can’t actually see where you are?
My favorite feature of Windows Phone on the trip was the built-in camera button and I’m not even sure it’s really a feature but more of a hardware requirement. I loved that I could quickly whip out the Lumia 920, hit the camera button and fire off a shot. It would be great if Microsoft made filters and photo options easier to access. Nokia supports panorama view, but you need to open another application. That’s silly, and digging through menus is a problem Microsoft has had since the Windows Phone days.
The notifications on the home screen are a complete mess. Microsoft loves to tout how socially connected Windows Phone 8 is, but I was receiving alerts for Twitter messages and Facebook notifications much later than I did on the iPhone 5. Worse, I can’t easily eliminate those notifications without having to dig through the application itself. On Android and iOS you can swipe them away. Thankfully, Microsoft’s Apollo Plus update, due out later this year, is supposed to address the notification problem.
I loved that the HTC One X+ and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean alerted me of the sports scores for the Jets (what an awful game!) while I was in California. It also told me my flight status and gate before I even left for the airport. That’s an incredible use of technology (and scanning through my emails, I suppose). Why isn’t Windows Phone capable of doing this? If it’s supposed to give me my life at a glance, it should be able to. The live tiles show sports scores, but again, they are incredibly delayed and are useful only if you want to look at a game that occurred hours earlier. Real live tiles would be awesome, especially if there was a Virgin America tile that showed my gate information and a sports app that kept me informed of the game in real time.
These are just a few tidbits I was thinking about this weekend. Windows Phone 8 rules, I love it, I just wish it was a bit better. What would you like to see added?