My first month of Android

After grumbling and ranting about how different things were for the first few days I settled in to a comfort zone. (My poor wife who has been using Android for a whole few months longer than me bore the brunt of most of it.)

What I felt like was this:

There were just soooooooo many choices. Sure I had tons of apps to install and use, but then I had to choose from so many things:

  • App launchers
  • Lock screens
  • App groups (not so challenging as I just replicated largely what I had on my Windows Phone)
  • Integration apps
  • Widgets
  • Do I use the native Android app, a Google version, or a third-party version? For example:
    • Using Truecaller as my dialler and contact manager
    • Choosing between the Android Messaging app for SMS, or the Google Messenger app, or even Facebook Messenger!
    • Built-in browser, or Chrome?
    • Google News, or MSN News?
    • And so on and so forth
  • Whether an app should actually have a shortcut or just be relegated to the “All Apps” section
  • Layout, layout, layout!

After weeks of tweaking and customising I’ve finally gotten to a happy point where I’m not really changing anything.

So can I now say….

Well not everything – but most things.

Certainly a number of things are considerably worse off than on Windows Phone, but you can’t always get what you want.

What are the things that are clearly deficient when compared to Windows Phone? This list is ordered by old man anger points:

  • Outlook integration with the OS (more on that later)
  • Integration of Microsoft services
  • Cortana is an app
  • Microsoft Band experience (more on that later)
  • Groove

What I can tell you is that I have become immersed. A couple of friends recently joked that this marked the end of me and Microsoft and that the next thing to happen is that I would replace my Xbox One with a PS4. All that is happened is I have moved away from the mobile platform and some of its surrounding components (eg. Groove, Microsoft Band – yes, more on that later).

I gotta say it is really weird being so late to the party. My next step will be to move away from my cheap Umi Super to a quality phone.

The original point of getting a cheap Chinese Android phone was merely to test the waters of the OS before committing to a more expensive device or even carrier contract. After having used both iOS and Android I’m sold on the latter and will be staying.

I would happily stay using the Umi Super except for the fact that the GSM module seems to lose connectivity when travelling faster than 40km/h, which means that using the phone with online content or even phone calls is not practical when in the car or on a train. The Bluetooth module is incredibly unreliable – requiring multiple connection attempts when trying to use already-paired devices like headsets or cars, and causing battery drain in wearables as they are trying to always stay connected. And the camera is simply woeful – sluggish and poor resolution.

So now it’s time to choose which manufacturer to go with.

The journey continues!

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.