What Windows Phone 7 updates need to address
Here we are, a little over a month after the introduction of Windows Phone 7 in the US, and analysts are already saying that it could be a threat to Android. Surprised? Yeah, me too. While Microsoft isn't exactly ecstatic about their sales numbers, the platform is undoubtedly gaining traction here in the States. However intriguing the platform may be, it has a mountain to climb to even be considered a threat, then another slope to scale before it reaches the top.
I've had hands-on time with three different Windows Phone 7 devices and I can agree that it could pose a real threat, that is, if Microsoft listens to users and gives them what they want. It goes without saying though, that WP7 comes with a handful of bugs, glitches, and hangs. There are quite a few things that Microsoft needs to address immediately with future updates before their platform gets a bad rep:
- Greatly reduce loading time of applications - I don't know if this is on the developer side of things or Microsoft's playing field, but something needs to be done about this.
- Landscape support - Two of the three devices I've used have had kickstands, promoting landscape support. The interface should adjust to landscape, maybe even horizontal scrolling of tiles. The biggest folly of the current landscape implementation is no address bar in the browser. You have to change to portrait to enter a new URL.
- Remember all settings, not just some - In the video camera application, if you switch from the default recording resolution to 720p, or to a lower setting, when you back out and return, this is forgotten and you have to set it each time.
- Better resume capabilities - If you're in an application and the screen times out, when you power on the device again and unlock the screen, it can take 5-10 seconds for the black screen to go away and for the application to appear again.
- Copy and paste - I don't think this really needs an explanation.
- Layout and search function of Marketplace - It works just fine if you're only browsing, but if you're looking for something particular, it becomes quite a task. I searched "Twitter" looking for the official Twitter application (yes, I know it's easy to find) and the search returned page after page of songs about Twitter.
Analysts also believed that webOS could sweep the market too, but we saw what happened there. Not only did Ol' Andy steal the spotlight, Palm botched the release themselves by releasing essentially what was beta software, poor hardware, and a slew of really creepy ads that probably scared people away. They didn't really promote a lot of development for their platform either. At least Microsoft has the marketing taken care of and is promoting development like it's going out of style. Their Marketplace (3,000 applications) has almost caught up with Palm's App Catalog (5,000 applications), which is rather impressive.
One analyst even went as far to say that if Windows Phone 7 is a success, that it could help the iPhone sales. I can see that in a way, but I'm not necessarily sold on the idea. He also mentions the Verizon iPhone and how it will hurt Android sales. I have no doubt that (if it exists) it will, but let's not forget that WP7 is headed to Big Red as well. I don't see that helping Microsoft's situation at all, if anything it spells doom for any LTE Windows Phone devices.
In any case, Microsoft has their work cut out for them. There are some immediate changes and fixes they need to implement and at the rate that Google is churning out updates, they better get the ball rolling. I must say, Gingerbread is looking pretty slick, and nothing Microsoft has cooking sounds quite as tasty.