This will inevitably sound like a rant against WP7, but it needs saying. To set a context though, many of these issues were the same for the first iPhone generations, and probably Android too for that matter; you’d have thought though that entering a mature market would mean not making the same mistakes to ensure parity. Who knows, maybe Windows 8 will address these problems?
Memory of a Goldfish
One of the features I’ve come to rely on, switching between apps, is persistence. Copying text from one app to another. Flicking between web browser and email. Doing that multi-tasking thing my wife tells me I should be doing. However, trivial tasks that would be simple on an iPhone, were virtually impossible on the Nokia: web pages reloaded, draft emails disappeared, etc. I even lost the first version of this post, switching back and forth; this used go happen with draft emails on the iPhone, but its been a while since I’ve had to rely on saving drafts manually 🙁
The second draft I lost when the Nokia froze just now, for no apparent reason. D: It’s always useful to know how to force restart a phone. I’m not sure if app switching by holding <- is as amnesiac as using the standard navigation. I definitely remember this being an issue for iOS 3 but the hardware must be capable of doing more than WP7.5 is allowing.
This lack of persistence is a big issue in terms of the usefulness of the phone. No background or multi-tasking extends to many features, with file uploads, etc, requiring you to stay in an app until it has finished; thus preventing the phone from being used for anything else. Furthermore, screen locks cut network connections, so auto screen lock is not a good option if you are trying to upload files. At one point I had to sit using the iPhone to research using WP7 for AudioBoo while the Nokia was stuck uploading a voice recording for over an hour; more on that later.
Words with Friends
Sometimes, the only contact I have with my wife is over a nice game of
Scrabble Words With Friends (WWF); we’ve played across oceans and continents, waiting in queues, and even across the dinner table. My wife is VERY good at letter/word games; the only time I ever beat her at Scrabble was when she was in labour! So, the lack of a WP7 version when its available on everything else, was a disappointment. The lack of Flash on WP7, despite being “announced” for Windows Phone by Adobe in 2010, even prevents the FaceBook version, along with 80% of the internet. Not sure what happened, prior to Adobe dropping mobile Flash generally, but this isn’t a matter of principle as it was for Steve Jobs. Silverlight is great, but this wasn’t the last app for me to yearn for NOT being available. I’ve already mentioned that stalwarts, like Twitter and FaceBook are behind in functionality – something Mac owners are used to in contrast to PC applications – but this starkly shows the inverted nature of the mobile space, when Microsoft is the poor cousin. Here’s an example:
AudioBoo…Audio Who? Audio BOO!
Some readers may have come across the 4m33s hash tag on Audioboo, a terse audio blog I have been running for a few years, featured on local and national radio and included in the British Library UK Sound map project (hash tag uksm)…
[And HERE I had to swap to editing this post on the web version of WordPress because THE WP7 WordPress App WOULDN’T LET ME SCROLL DOWN ANY FURTHER…! Actually, while I’m on the subject of text entry and handling web forms, etc, there are a few niggles:
- There is no easy way to scroll to top of web page – on iPhones tapping the top status bar does this
- You cannot select text in emails, even in replies (!) unless it is your own typing
- Positioning the text cursor is counter intuitive, with a weird press and hold then slide to try to get it in the right place, as simple tapping just selects the word, rather than position the cursor.
- Losing text entry focus in windows unless you manually scroll, which might be related to the problem I had in WordPress, so you cannot see what you are typing when it gets over a certain length.
- Bloody Search button accidental presses when lying in bed, as well as not being able to turn off auto-rotate, which is less of a text specific problem, but made worse when typing on the phone screen.
End of digression]
…ah where was I? Oh yes… so I am a big fan of AudioBoo. Surely, there’s an app for that! It’s even on the Nokia Symbian OS. However, no. There’s no WP7 version. Searching (on the iPhone 4) I discovered that you could send Voice Recorder files to BooMail. er… No. The email that Voice Recorder sends, just contains a link not an audio attachment and BooMail doesn’t pic it up. Nor does Voice Recorder allow you to edit the email, to add tags, images, etc, so scratch that; and *I* thought the Internet was always right!
Ok, another app that allows AudioBoo uploads is available… No, wait, it’s not official and according to comments doesn’t actually work. Or… Voice Memos Lite? Yes! It’s free – always good – and can send to AudioBoo or SoundCloud. Yes! Oh… no. Linking the app to AudioBoo fails because a PIN is never generated during the pairing process; AudioBoo recognises the link, but the app doesn’t. Oh, well, let’s buy the paid version that was mentioned a year ago as being in development, because the Lite version only allows one account to be connected. Maybe AudioBoo’s API has been updated…
Oh (again). There is no paid version. The web site has disappeared. The last post on the facebook page – not counting the forlorn ones from users asking where the web site has gone – is from november 2011. Looks like abandonware. So, that didn’t work either. A shame as it looked like the most promising solution.
In the end, I had to try to email myself the Voice Recorder link, which inexplicably went from being 4m59s in total length to 6m44s, which seems to imply that the counter on the recording page is wrong. So, I have up. Is there anyone who knows how to accurately record 5 minutes of audio and get it off the WP7 and up on to AudioBoo?
Mike’s Killer app suggestion number 2: an AudioBoo client
AudioBoo: 0/10 (a complete fail)
Text entry in apps and browser forms: 3/10 (predictive text was pretty good, but other aspects awful)
Really, Cameras. Honest.
And some stuff I think the WP7 does better than iPhone 4. REally. Honest!