A few months ago I switched to an iPhone as my Lumia 930 broke and I was getting a bit fed up with waiting for Windows 10 Mobile. One of the big reasons was I had a number of people telling me how good the Microsoft apps were on iOS and Android.
Before getting too far into this let’s clear up a few things:
Now you know where we stand: I don’t like Google, have a Microsoft bias, and am open to Apple. However, after 3 months of iPhone usage I am ready to switch back to Windows as a mobile device.
While I am Microsoft-biased there are a number of things they did far better than anyone else, and it’s just unfortunate that most people don’t know of them.
One thing I do need to preface is that I am a large consumer of information and a serial multitasker. I like information to be presented to me in bite sized chunks so I can make a decision as to whether I need to act on it. I like to see what I need to see in front of me.
I’ll try to keep this short and sharp and focus on my biggest whinges. J
iOS 9 still looks like Windows 3.1
Back in 2012 I wrote a piece about how iOS reminded me of Windows 3.1 which attracted some negative comments from Apple fans.
One of my friends welcomed me back to iPhone recently – my immediate response was: “yep, 4 years gone and not much has changed”. The reality is since iOS v1 not much has changed from the User Interface (UI) perspective. The icons can be put into groups and have changed their design slightly but apart from that the interface is still a collection of icons and groups. The most I can get any insight is the fact that a number shows up on an app indicating how many notifications I have within that app.
Seriously – this operating system has been on the market for 8 years, can Apple please try to evolve it?
I REALLY miss the live tiles on a Windows Phone where I could at a glance see in depth into multiple apps without actually having to go into them to see more information. I find with iOS I am continually switching apps. It is frustrating and annoying.
The Lock Screen
I am flabbergasted at how little access I have to put information on the lock screen. Searching high and low for apps I could not find anything that could put my calendar on the lock screen. I’m fully aware that I can simply drag my finger down from the top of the screen to see my calendar but that’s not really “at a glance” – it requires interaction.
Even Android allows you to customise the lock screen to show calendar appointments, weather, and whatever other information you want.
How is this still not a thing on iOS?
The App Gap
After 3 months of having access to a world full of apps – I found that I don’t care, and that it wasn’t worth it. Most apps I installed I have hardly used. Yes, the native social apps are better, yes there are banking apps, yes there are apps that don’t exist on Windows, yes the same apps that exist on Windows are actually better on iOS.
My phone serves a handful of functions: phone and messaging, business use, social, and information consumption. Some of these are baked into the OS, most require an app.
What I have found is that for most of the apps I use the websites are mobile friendly and almost as feature rich as the app. The other apps I have installed simply don’t get used other than maybe once or twice, if at all – which means I could survive without them.
Why does Siri only work with Apple apps? I can’t tell Siri to do anything outside of Apple apps, retrieving information or opening other apps. Why is there no SDK or API from Apple for this?
I like the fact that Siri is at least available in Australia (a point of frustration with Microsoft where Cortana is only available if you set your device to the US region or install a preview version of Windows Phone), but what I can do with her is extremely limiting.
Seriously – have a look at how many apps leverage Cortana. It is mind blowing what you can get your phone and apps to do just by talking to them.
My key takeaway is that the Windows mobile operating system is truly built for the business user, and this is why it hasn’t had such mass market appeal. The consumer appeal and functionality simply isn’t there, and that’s mainly due to the fact that the operating system is built for intelligent handling of information and actions – something not everyone is comfortable with at this point. While Microsoft has made efforts to deliver apps and features to iOS and Android first in order to ensure greater market reach and uptake I find that for a person like me who consumes so much information on a daily basis the Windows experience is simply better suited. There are a number of Microsoft apps on iOS that drew me in originally but I could live without them.
I find iOS simplistic and cumbersome. It is designed for a simpler time when apps were all the rage, but we’ve surpassed that. Nowadays services and integration are key, and while Apple is working hard to catch up in that space it is an area already dominated by Google and Microsoft.
As someone who uses Windows 10 as their daily operating system and Office 365 as my business platform I find the overall experience no better on iOS than it was on Windows Phone. In my first few weeks I was amazed with my iPhone as everything “just worked”. That rapidly wore off as I found that apps still crash and the OS still has bugs. With the release of Windows 10 Mobile I think there will be more of a compelling reason for people to go back and stay there as it will offer a broader ecosystem with richer interactions and integrations.
I know I can’t wait to get back there. I just hope Cortana will forgive me.
Earlier today Microsoft reneged on its promise to deliver unlimited storage to all OneDrive users. The blog post can be found here: https://blog.onedrive.com/onedrive_changes/
I am generally pro-Microsoft, will defend its actions, sing its praises, etc. Recently people commented that the space-time continuum might crack because I chose to move away from Windows Phone and back to an iPhone. The reality is that was always going to be short-term. I am not a fan of the iPhone, refuse to use Android, and will most likely go back to a Windows phone in the near future.
But let’s talk about OneDrive and where my frustration is coming from.
Microsoft for the past couple of years had been making significant strides in being “cool” and relevant again. It always had the old stigma about it but some serious headway was being made around Microsoft being the ecosystem and platform of choice – regardless of your device. If you had an iPhone or Android it wasn’t an issue because OneDrive was there, waiting for you to store and share your content.
Here’s the issue: if you launch an “unlimited” service – people are going to treat it as such.
When the “unlimited” announcements were made, often I would explain the rationale behind it: that while some people may fully utilise the service the reality is most people will only store a few gigabytes of data, and so the maths was done that you could offer “unlimited” without fear of being crushed under the weight of it.
I can understand if Microsoft found some people really taking advantage of the “unlimited” offer and thought that something needed to be changed. The blog post refers to “a small number of users backed up numerous PCs and stored entire movie collections and DVR recordings”. That can easily be dealt with by changing the Terms of Service or Acceptable Usable Policy, and then politely tapping those users on the shoulder and asking them to comply.
Instead what Microsoft has done is punished the ENTIRE user base of OneDrive.
OneDrive has already had a tumultuous journey from its Live Mesh days, to SkyDrive, then to OneDrive, then sync changes in Windows 8/8.1, then app changes, etc. It was well on the path to being a solid foundation for the whole “any device, anywhere”. But not now.
Free storage is reduced to 5GB, no 15GB camera roll any more. Seriously???? With the continual increase in smartphone camera quality 5GB would barely last a few months (especially not when you have kids and video everything they do).
Sure for paid users they will get 1TB of storage, which in my opinion is more than enough for the average user. Personally I have 340GB of storage due to various bonuses, however I only use about 120GB of that (about 80GB of that is actually MP3s ripped from CDs I bought years ago). So I’m going to be fine, and if I need to buy more I’ll happily pay.
There’s two issues at play here: Microsoft’s reaction to the uptake of the “unlimited” offer (or as Barney Stinson would say “challenge… accepted”), but I think more so the wording of this blog post. The person who wrote it articulated only the changes. This blog post was a massive slap in the face, and Microsoft will be feeling the pain for a long time. In the world of cloud we were sold on prices going down and services getting better. Reversing position by one of the giants that is trying to win hearts and minds is very unsettling.
The damage is done Microsoft; the cat is out of the bag. You could have done that a hell of a lot better.