Expectations for the Windows Phone: From an iPhone User

I have been called an Apple fanboy. It might have something to do with the fact that I own an iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Air; it might have something to do with my love for Golden Delicious and applesauce; there’s no real way of knowing. Still, despite this apparent bias, I find myself in possession of a Windows Phone 7 device, allowing me to stay current with the rest of the mobile scene and giving me a chance to try out this far-too-neglected operating system.

What do I think coming into this? As an iPhone user, how am I seeing my future with this device playing out? Are you even still reading this, or are you preparing to raid my home and declare me a ‘fanboi’? Read on to find out.

High Hopes: Metro

I’ve only caught glimpses of the Metro interface before, but I always liked what I saw. It feels like it’s much more interactive than the iPhone’s interface, and takes a much more digital/futuristic tone than Apple’s offering. I’m a big fan of the Segoe typeface; it’s a nice and clean sans-serif but it has more personality than other typefaces.

With its stark, minimalistic theme, Metro seems like a good alternative to the (comparatively) stale interface on my iPhone. The colors are all great, and everything is presented with a unified, distinctive look.

High Hopes: Live Tiles

iOS doesn’t have widgets. Android has widgets. Windows Phone practically is a widget. I’ve used Android before (and continue to use it from time to time) so I knew how that operating system handled the information that you’d like to see at a glance, but by all accounts the Live Tiles approach from Windows Phone is a more elegant, useful solution.

If anything I’m looking forward to the tiles themselves; I want to see what you can do directly from the home screen, and exactly how the assorted apps take advantage of the opportunity that Microsoft has given them.

Ehhh: No Texture

When I’m reading (or writing) I prefer to have some form of texture behind the text, as it lowers the contrast and makes it easier on the eyes. This is important, as I’ll often use the phone while I’m in bed (after I’ve taken my glasses off) and sometimes the stark contrast, while aesthetically pleasing, can give me a headache.

The most-textured app for WP7 that I've seen.

The most-textured app for WP7 that I've seen.

From the research I’ve done it seems that most applications (if not all) feature this Metro-inspired design decision, meaning I won’t be able to catch up on some late-night reading for fear of hurting my eyes.

I’m Worried for You, Man: Apps

I love apps. I write for the AppStorm network, after all, and my favorite applications on the iPhone (and iPad, and Mac) are the third-party apps that developers have cooked up. I use a certain amount of applications constantly throughout my day, and I’m worried that I won’t find a suitable counterpart on Windows Phone.

This is simultaneously an issue of quality and quantity. If there are more apps it’s more likely that I’ll be able to find something on Windows Phone that I’ve become accustomed to on the iPhone, but even if I find an application that’s functional I would like to actually enjoy using the app. Hopefully I’ll be surprised, but from everything I’ve heard, the ecosystem isn’t as healthy as it is on iOS.

I’m Worried for You, Man: Metro

I know that I listed this as something I’m excited about, but I’m also expecting a bit of culture shock. My favorite apps on iOS take advantage of different textures and interaction guidelines; I’m used to the way that they work, and I appreciate the amount of detail that developers put into their apps.

Oh look, some more high-contrast Segoe UI.

Oh look, some more high-contrast Segoe UI.

With Metro, I’m afraid that every application is going to be built with the same exact framework with a different coat of paint. This makes for a unifying experience, but I wonder if it will affect the ‘delight’ factor while I’m using the phone.

In Summary

As a general rule I’m excited to spend some time with Windows Phone. I’ve started using the device (a Dell Venue Pro) a little bit, but I haven’t spent long enough with it to get a real feel for the operating system. What I have used seems nice, and there are some little details that are incredibly fun (like the noises from the virtual keyboard).

I have my reservations, but I’m happy to be using Windows Phone. My eyeballs aren’t bleeding and I’m genuinely excited to spend more time with the OS, which are good signs.