Switching from Windows Phone to iPhone

It’s official – I’ve switched from Windows Phone back to an iPhone.

Back in 2013 I attempted to use an Apple Mac and iPhone for an entire month with the Microsoft ecosystem. I lasted only 4 days.

At the time there were very few apps for iOS and the experience infuriated me. However also back then Windows Phone had a number of differentiators being baked in functionality instead of app handoffs.

Jump forward just over 2 years and we’re in a different world. Windows Phone hasn’t moved beyond a tiny slice of the pie chart and as a result Microsoft’s own product groups are focusing on iOS and Android.

A few months ago I had some Microsoft people (both local and from Corp) trying to convince me to get an iPhone as the Microsoft app experience was better. Around then my Lumia 930 broke and I was on the fence. I ended up getting the phone repaired and decided to stick with Windows Phone – waiting for the Windows 10 Mobile experience and the promise of Universal Apps.

The problem here comes down to timing. Last week my 1 year old daughter got hold of my phone for a couple of minutes and managed to drop it in a way that the screen broke again. Again I was faced with the choice to repair or replace.

I chose to replace my phone with an iPhone 6 Plus, and here’s why:

  • The Microsoft app experience is FAR better on iOS than Windows Phone
  • There are more Microsoft apps available for iOS than Windows Phone
  • Windows 10 Mobile is still very buggy and isn’t expected to come out until October
  • Even then many apps will need to be updated/rewritten to handle to the new multi-screen system and will take months to come out

The key apps I need to use when mobile are:

  • Email
  • Calendar
  • Contacts
  • Skype for Business
  • Yammer
  • Dynamics CRM

In every one of those cases the app experience is superior on iOS. I even have screen rotation with several of them!!!

The only app experience I find Windows Phone did much better than iOS is around the Microsoft Band. On iOS there are very few 3rd party apps. Also a number of the functions are missing such as the ability to reply to a call or text message with a quick response.

Within a short period of time of getting my iPhone I had all my personal and business apps up and running. One frustrating component was that I had to enter my credentials (as well as MFA codes) for every single app.

As I am deeply embedded into the Microsoft ecosystem professionally and personally I would not have been able to make the change if my investment in services such as Office 365, Groove Music (formerly known as Xbox), OneDrive and others weren’t feature-rich on iOS.

So will I now switch to using iTunes and other Apple services? Absolutely not.

Do I still think of Windows 3.1 whenever I look at my phone? You betcha!!! (I really miss the tiles of Windows Phone!)

Am I going to stick with the iPhone going forward? Most likely not. I’m sure when Windows 10 Mobile is released and the apps have caught up (and running Android apps is commonplace) I’ll come back. For now, I’m having a better Microsoft app experience on the iPhone.

My first week with the Microsoft Band

It’s been over a week now since I started wearing my Microsoft Band and I can say I’m still in love with the device.

While there are several things that frustrate me, there are several things that still amaze me and I find to be of great benefit. I’m also in love with the potential of what this device can do, and am still thankful I happened to be in Seattle when it was launched.

I’ve previously written about some of the pros and cons of the device, as you can read about here and here.

After a week what have I learnt & enjoyed?

  • Charge the device every day (the best time I find is during/around a shower as you can’t wear it anyway)
  • Getting text notifications on my wrist is far less intrusive than checking my phone, and as such is a big bonus
  • Keep your VIP list small (only my wife is on mine) for emails
  • Do NOT enable the notification centre to display on your Microsoft Band, unless you’ve tweaked it so that very little shows up – otherwise you will buzzed every few minutes
  • Deal with the fact that the notifications are not truly bi-directional – I’m sure this will be fixed in the future
  • Paying at Starbucks using only your wrist is very handy
  • You can customise your call & text message replies separate to that of a Windows Phone (I’ve gone so far as to have one which says I’ve seen the message on my Microsoft Band but am not in a position to respond). My good friend and fellow Office 365 MVP Sean McNeill has taken this a step further by adding some humour about having fallen and can’t get to his phone to respond.
  • Having Cortana on your wrist is AMAZING!!!

As I’ve been at the Microsoft MVP Summit in Redmond for the past week I haven’t had the chance to really test out the fitness capabilities of it. Now that I’m back in Seattle and on a more normal schedule I’ll certainly be trying it out this week – so watch for updates.

It’s also been interesting paying for items at Starbucks (we don’t have any of them back in Australia) as each person who has seen me do it has remarked with commons like “wow, that’s cool” or “that’s amazing” which is great to hear.

Something I do want to address is wearability. I’ve seen other blog posts and reviews saying the device is big and clunky. If you look at most men’s watches these days most likely they are wearing something bigger and clunkier. After a week of wear I barely notice that I’m wearing it. It feels as present on my wrist as wearing a watch or Fitbit would.

Having the screen on the underside of my wrist has been slightly noticeable while typing, however normally I use an ergonomic keyboard with raised wrists so I probably wouldn’t notice if that was the case.

I do find the very adjustable strap on the Microsoft Band to be of great benefit. It allows me to make minute adjustments to the tightness of the Band throughout the day based on the thickness of my wrist (due to water retention, temperature, etc.). This is definitely a benefit over my Fitbit Flex.

So my synopsis after a week of use? This device has amazing capabilities. It is very usable and advantageous in its current form. Yes it could do with a lot of improvement, but for a version 1 device and solution it is quite adequate. And as I said earlier – having Cortana on your wrist is AMAZING!!!