Friday, November 23, 2012

Windows Phone 8: Will Microsoft Give Google and Apple Tough Days Ahead?

The last half of October 2012 was quite eventful for Microsoft. Within days Windows 8, Surface tablet, and Windows Phone 8 came to life. Well, not sure if Steve Ballmer and team were really looking out for additional pull by bringing out three pro genies almost at the same time. Whatever it may be, Microsoft has reasons to smile. I am not here to delve more into Windows 8 as many experts have already analyzed it previously. Let us leave out as well Surface tablet as we have already done a sneak peek into it. The focus here is on Windows Phone 8, the latest phone OS from the company. 

To begin with, let me make it clear that Windows Phone 8 is a tile-based experience. If you are not fond of tiles, then Windows Phone 8 is not your cup of tea. For those who are still puzzled as to what the ‘tile’ is all about – they are squares on the home screen that hold several apps inside. I loved this feature as it saves my time in scrolling down to search for each app. Wait. Did I say that you can pick the color of your choice for each tile along with its size? Well, Microsoft gives you the facility to do that as well.

Now if you ask me as to which among the tiles in Windows Phone 8 is my favorite, my vote will be for FlightAware. As the name suggests, it lets you provide flight details including sudden cancellation. Now you know why a frequent traveller like me finds this app captivating. Speaking about frequent travels, how can I miss photo tile where I can add and share latest snaps clicked at various tourist destinations?

Microsoft has made Windows Phone 8 look really amazing and enchanting. Some may cry that the looks are just an extension of Windows Phone 7, but I opt to differ with them. And comparing with the new Android and iOS versions, Windows Phone 8 looks really genuine and fabulous.

Another interesting aspect about Windows Phone 8 is Hubs. People Hub, Games Hub, Photos Hub, and Music & Video Hub are places where content, apps, and social networking all comes together. Whereas with the Music & Video hub you can watch You Tube and Vevo content along with viewing your own videos, the People Hub is all about contacting your friends and dear ones via Phone 8. This includes Skype, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Group messaging and sharing photos on SkyDrive are other facilities that you avail on People hub.  Another feature that is worth mentioning here is the new Wallet app that lets you opt to pay via mobile phone. I feel Microsoft is here inspired by Google Wallet app.
If photography is your passion, then Windows Phone 8 is certainly meant for you. The camera feature in Phone 8 lets you experiment with snapping, and reduces the need for separate editing tools. And once you’ve clicked the shot, you can upload it and share it among friends via Photos Hub. Apart from sharing your snaps, Photo Hub also lets you view photo galleries of your friends. Another interesting attribute of Windows 8 Phone is that you can read a new message on Facebook or WhatsApp, or a mail even in locked form. Oh I forgot one more thing. There is a Kids Corner as well where you can provide restricted access of the smartphone for your child. 

What about the browser? Very nearly the IE 10 of Windows 8, it loads even the most complex of pages correctly and quickly. Speaking about search, the Bing search tool is more integrated to the OS and Bing Maps are considerably improved than in the previous version. And when it comes to entertainment, Xbox SmartGlass is a welcome addition and Zune is the thing of the 

When it comes to the most elementary features of Windows Phone 8, to begin with, you can bring together your contacts on all services you use. For instance your Skype contacts show up in the People Hub, along with contacts from various social media platforms. The touchscreen keypad is convenient to use even for a Generation Y'er like me and in my word, the word flow autocorrect feature is simply amazing. And since typing has become more suitable, various Office apps (Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and the likes.) become more useful. Finally, if you are bored of typing, you can also switch to voice recognition and dictate.

As per initial reviews, all is well with Windows 8 except a few aspects mentioned here. So, to conclude that Windows Phone 8 is perfect is well, wrong. One major problem with Windows Phone 8 is continuous rebooting. Recently someone told me that his OS gets rebooted some 8-9 times a day. That’s really awful! Though personally I have not faced the issue of continuous rebooting, my problem is about battery leakage. Another common problem is the sinking of e-mails. There are couple of other issues; but limited to Nokia Lumia 920 and HTC Windows Phone 8X handsets. They include random lockups, hard resets and freezing up of OS as well. 

Barring these glitches, I personally feel Windows 8 Phone is as good as Android or iOS (if not better). Anyways Microsoft is already investigating the problems, and soon plans to release an OTA update to fix the issues.


Image by: Okalkavan

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