I have owned an iPhone 3G for a couple years. One week ago I picked up my new Samsung Focus Windows Phone 7 (WP7). My initial impressions were a bit mixed because of my experience with AT&T. The single biggest issue I have with the phone is how lame AT&T is (of course this is the same complaint that I have with my old iPhone). The biggest issues I had with my iPhone was the lack of “business” capability. By that I mean “How I do Business”. One simple example is the ability to simply flag an e-mail for later follow-up. I use my phone for e-mail triage and the lack of this simple feature version after version baffles me. (Notice I did not mention cut and paste, that came along later, because I did not find that feature “necessary”.)
What do I like?
The User Interface
The UI is beautiful. The usability is great. I have had no problems making the shift from iPhone to WP7. I enjoy the little details that are present like the inertia and bounce of tiles and objects. It’s fun. Typing is easier as the spell checking is in line above the keyboard. Choosing a replacement word from the list does not cause me to change hand positions. The Samsung screen is bright and beautiful even in broad daylight.
The Mail Client
The default mail client has flagging. I don’t need much more.
The performance of the phone has been fast and very reliable. I updated my phones memory with a Kingston 32gb class 4 card and after about 24 hours of mixed performance and a few resets the phone has stabilized and I have had no problems. I have heard that Microsoft will release a list of “certified” cards, hopefully mine will be on the list.
Silly as it sounds I love that the Zune has a radio. It relies on the Headphones for the antenna, but other than that it is a great addition for those times that you are listening to radio in your car and want to keep listening after.
With one HUGE exception (see below) I like the Office Hub. The rendering of Word and PowerPoint files is surprisingly good. PowerPoint animations play, though I have not tested complex animations.
SkyDrive Storage Integration
I love that I can choose to have photos, documents and other data synchronized to my SkyDrive.
What I Don’t Like
Failed SharePoint Integration
I have to say that my biggest disappointment is the apparent lack of SharePoint integration in the Office Hub. There is a SharePoint section on the Hub, but all indications are that you can only connect to “intranets”. This means that if you use fully qualified domain names for your intranet you will not be able to use the SharePoint integration. (Even though you can still use the browser.) It makes no sense at all why there is even a SharePoint section in Office hub without the ability to connect to SharePoint on any URL. There is some mumbling about using Forefront UAG for access…again I just want to connect to SharePoint and get work done.
Ports on Top
I like to dock my iPhone so I can see it when I walk by, a quick status check. I also dock my phone in my car and integrate it with iSimple through my car stereo. This is probably the biggest feature I miss. Through iSimple I can use the controls on the steering wheel of my FJ to change songs. The apparent lack of this level of device integration is a drag. Also, I like that they chose a “standard” connector for the power and sync, but after some testing it appears that there is something specific about the microUSB cable. I have a couple cables only one will charge and sync my phone.
iPhone uses “Visual Voice Mail”. The WP7 software just alerts you to new voice mail by changing the phone tile. You then have to call into AT&T and pick up your voice mail like the rest of the world. I miss Visual Voice Mail.
For a company that is in heavy competition in the search market, I was shocked at how bad the search feature of market place is currently implemented. For example, I open Marketplace and choose Apps. When I execute a search I get Apps and Music. I don’t want Music, I want just apps. Further, I would like to filter by category. This basic feature miss of contextual search scope is problematic. (Well, it will be when we get more apps…)
Sadly, just like the iPhone, the phone has mail, calendar, and contacts but no Outlook tasks feature. (Don’t call it Outlook because Outlook is mail, calendar, contacts and TASKS). This is another huge miss in my book. Again, this is how I work. I use a system that relies on Outlook tasks and calendar. For the iPhone I used a third party application to handle the task synchronization. Looks like I have some writing to do…
There is no native ability to perform a screen capture like you can on the iPhone. This is why this blog post is all text. I know, I know, but I think it’s important. The Marketplace requires one screen shot at a minimum. This screen shot may not be altered in any way. What better way to facilitate that than to provide for this ability in the platform. The current position is to have a developer use an emulator and screen capture the emulator. Lame.
I take a lot of pictures. I am a freak for metadata, so I love that the phone will geotag the images. I was rapidly disappointed when I discovered that I cannot preset my camera metadata like Photographer. Further I noticed that the Photographer for my phone is “Hello from Seattle”.
The other morning I woke up, grabbed my coffee and my phone. I started the phone and was told “A new security policy is in effect, choose a password for your phone.” I chose my password and the phone screen locked. I dove into settings and in the “Lock and Wallpaper” screen, could no longer change the settings for the password lock. I use BPOS for my e-mail, word is that a setting was changed that impacted WP7 users and increased the security for mail clients. Great setting for an Enterprise, but apparently too easy for an admin to set. After a few hours of waiting the setting became available again and I am back in control of my phone.
Overall I am happy to have a new phone that I can write apps for. Even though it is considered a “consumer” phone I find the attention to some features evident. I find it amazing that little things that tripped up the iPhone were not attended to in this first release (like cut, copy & paste and Outlook Tasks) not that I need them, but because they would remove perceived barriers to entry. I am eager for the kinks to get worked out.