A few weeks ago, we proposed five reasons you may wish to dump your iPhone or Android device for a Windows Phone. However, we know Windows Phone has its own faults. So here are our top five reasons to avoid Windows Phone and let it mature a bit more. Be sure to check out last week’s post and then head on below.
While I love Windows Phone’s beautiful Start Screen with Live Tiles, you are going to need apps to fill that space. The application ecosystem is currently Microsoft’s biggest downfall, even four years after its initial release. Many popular applications including Snapchat, Tinder, WatchESPN, SoundCloud, Square, Secret and many more, are still missing. In recent months, we have seen the popular arrival of applications such as Tumblr, Pinterest, and ooVoo. Games are a similar story, while we have a collection of great games, many of the top quality games we see on other platforms take months to get to Windows Phone (if it ever does).
However, the application problem doesn’t just end there. Windows Phone has a collection of apps that have made their way over, but are inferior to their other operating system counterparts. Spotify is an application that lags behind on Windows Phone – pop over to Android or iOS to see what you are missing (including access to your music by albums, artists, etc.). The same goes for the Twitter and Instagram that function well, but are missing new key features that have been introduced since the apps were last updated.
Windows Phone’s 3rd party hero developers might be a great alternative to some applications like Instagram, but there aren’t enough to justify the many holes in the app ecosystem. Note, we are just talking about main apps, not even obscure applications for local business, which are near impossible to find. It can be difficult to survive on Windows Phone, unless you are not an app junkie.
Windows Phone support issues don’t end with applications, there is also an issue with hardware devices. Third party smartwatches are just the beginning of devices that don’t work with Windows Phone; among Pebble, MetaWatch, and Galaxy Gear – none work with Windows Phone. Sure, the Microsoft Band is now available, but you are locked into Microsoft’s own choosing. This issue is in part due to the fact that Windows Phone didn’t provided the needed developer APIs to efficiently manage smart devices. Microsoft recently released an update for Windows Phone that now makes it possible, but after reaching out to a few different smartwatch providers, we have found that very few have any priority for Windows Phone.
Smartwatches aren’t the only devices that lack compatibility. There are various fitness devices and even car integration systems that don’t work properly with Windows Phone. While my own Toyota is unable to do anything more than send and receive calls with a Lumia 1520, add a Galaxy S5 with Android, and the car can do much more, including sending text messages and allowing me to access my inbox. That being said, we did do a write up on how to better utilize Cortana while in the car.
Lack of Customizability
You can rearrange your Live Tiles, select your new favorite color, and maybe even add a background – that is where customizing Windows Phone’s start screen and operating system stops. If you don’t like an aspect of the phone, say the keyboard, there are no options to swap it out for another. Microsoft has made sure that core system components can’t be changed, and while this may not be an issue for some, many of us have become accustomed to swapping in our favorite keyboard, dialer, or SMS app.
Even Apple has recently begun to embrace swap ability in iOS. Microsoft does manage to pull ahead when it comes to customizing the unlock screen, but if you aren’t happy with your start screen launch method or other various system components – too bad.
Microsoft introduced multitasking with its Windows Phone 7 ‘Mango’ launch. If you are like me, you have been happily using the feature and enjoying it, but if you look outside the Microsoft ecosystem, you find other systems are doing the same job better.
To start, Windows Phone places a limit on the number of applications you can run in the background. Other operating systems, such as Android and iOS, don’t have such a shallow limit. You might find that while using Windows Phone, apps get pushed out of the background, which can be an issue if it was something you sincerely needed.
With the rise of phablets, we have also seen manufacturers, such as Sony and LG, adding multi-app viewing to their devices. A Samsung Galaxy user can easily ‘snap’ two apps side by side, and I find that it does come in useful while answering emails and trying to jot down notes at the same time.
Windows Multitasking isn’t bad, but it is behind the curve.
Slow Adoption Rate
Lastly, Windows Phone hasn’t exactly shot out of the gate. Recent market studies show that Microsoft’s mobile operating system is gaining traction, but at tortoise speed. Slow adoption of an operating system may not seem immediately important, but it does infect consumer experience.
Due to the fact that Windows Phone isn’t as popular as its competitors (and isn’t looking like it will be) makes developers more cautious when developing applications or providing device support. Development costs money and placing a team on an unpopular operating system just doesn’t make much sense. We may love Windows Phone, but until the rest of the world starts showing some love, companies aren’t going to be rushing their latest ideas to the platform.