Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Lumia 640 Windows Phone Experience - The Bad and Reality

While I found quite a few nuances of the Lumia 640 running Windows Phone OS enjoyable, my little experiment has wound down. I'm back to using my Galaxy S5 and Android. I feel like I owe the hard working developers at Windows an explanation.

1. I heavily rely on the Google Platform, so having a Google Phone just makes sense. I'm all about Gmail, Google Docs, Google Keep, heck even YouTube. While the Windows Phone makes an attempt to fill some of these needs (adding a Google Gmail account, even one with 2 factor authentication, was easily enough), the tools just aren't as polished as they are on Android. The mail app has no quick way of archiving messages, or the ability to leverage the Priority inbox. I found a Google Docs app, but it doesn't allow editing of docs, which is essential for me. And the YouTube app is little more than a thin web wrapper around the mobile site. Sure, it's functional, but not polished.

2. The system lacks the geek factor that I require. My first impression was that the apps I needed were just not there on Windows, but after a few days of use, I realized that's an unfair generalization. Apps like Overdrive and Tapatalk were quite functional in the Windows Phone world, and ones like Run the Map and AudioCloud were quite good. No, it's the esoteric stuff that's not up to par yet.

For example, the phone pairs with my Bluetooth keyboard, but without a program like EHK, there's no way to remap keys or make shortcuts work. Sure, there's an ssh program, but not one that I could get bash style keybindings working with. And while the phone had things like quiet hours that were intuitive to use, there's no sign of a Tasker type app that let's customize the phone in unusual ways. Or better yet, allow me to prototype apps with ease. I was excited to find a Scheme implementation on Windows, but it's toy when compared to the one on Android.

Of course, for most Windows Phone users, these features are esoteric and unnecessary. And further more, over time, Windows will probably get there. But for now, I can turn my Android phone into a little dev laptop and I can't say that about my Windows phone. Also, if I was a Microsoft Office guy, I wonder if using the Windows Phone would have felt like coming home? But having an aversion to Word and Excel, I couldn't even bring myself to experiment with these on the phone.

Oh, and the camera quality was blah on the phone. Though, being a relatively low cost phone, that's no big surprise.

So back to the Android universe I go.

But if I'm a core Android developer, I'm not patting myself on the back quite yet. Microsoft has a habit of getting things right on their Nth try, and the Windows Phone I played with was actually quite usable. Ignore it at your own risk.

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