Windows Phone's app situation is now about quality and functionalityEvan Selleck - Contributing Editor
Nothing's easy, especially not when you're dealing with a competitive market. When it comes to the mobile industry, competition comes with plenty of user feedback, fanboys (and girls), and an up-hill battle that a lot of people will say just isn't worth it -- for some platforms. Microsoft's Windows Phone was one of those platforms that many thought wouldn't make it, especially not against the titans of the industry that are Google's Android and Apple's iOS.
If Microsoft had given up within the first year, maybe all the way up to the second year of Windows Phone's life, then those naysayers would have been right. Thankfully for those who don't like to see competition, or creativity, die out right after its showcased, Windows Phone is still alive and kicking, and it's honestly doing quite well for itself.
It took some time, yes, but no one in their right mind thought Microsoft was going to win the mobile race in just a year or two. Or even three or four. Microsoft's goal out of the gate was to obtain that coveted third place in the mobile operating system ladder, and if you ask me they've achieved that. When we talk about the "major operating systems," Windows Phone is part of that conversation now, and not as some random outlier.
So all the hard work's over, right? Not so much.
Within the last few months, one of the biggest complaints against Windows Phone has been quieted. Not muted, but certainly the volume on the argument has been lowered. The application situation on Windows Phone is starting to change. A lot of apps that many would have expected to only launch on Android and iOS -- like Rockstar's companion application to their recently launched Grand Theft Auto V-- have made their way to Microsoft's mobile platform as well. If not at launch, then soon after.
And the big-name apps, like Instagram and Vine, have been available for the platform for a little while now, only supporting the fact that application developers are indeed giving Windows Phone the attention it deserves. It's not perfect quite yet, but it's moving in that direction.
I still have a complaint, though. It's even about the apps that are launching on Windows Phone, or have been available on the platform for awhile now. I think it's great that Microsoft's platform is getting the attention it deserves, and I can't wait to see that support grow. But right now, the reason I can't actually stay on Windows Phone is still an app problem.
It's the overall functionality and quality of the apps I use every day that keeps me from sticking around. I use Spotify a lot, and the simple fact is that the functionality in the Windows Phone version is just not there. It's not even really close, to be honest. Both the iOS and Android counterparts are world's better, and just looking at the last time the Spotify app was updated on Windows Phone 8 (July 12 of this year), can only really indicate that support isn't really a top priority for the company. At least, not when it comes to the Windows Phone app. (In comparison, the iOS app has been updated several times, several of which have included major software feature updates and additions. The last update was November 29.)
"Just switch to Xbox Music," someone would probably suggest, and that wouldn't be a terrible offer. Xbox Music is great, and I generally do miss using it. But, I've become partial to Spotify, and considering the fact I just can't choose to stick with one platform, having a music service I can use on all of them (mostly) is better for me.
Thankfully, it's not all like this. Vine, for example, works great on Windows Phone, and shares plenty of the features you'd find on its iOS and Android siblings. However, Instagram is still missing some features, like being able to record short-snippet of video to share on the social networking service. Otherwise, it works great.
It's a long road, and nothing is going to get fixed overnight (until it is). While I still have complaints, and I'm sure that others out there do, too, not even related to apps, I will happily admit that the majority of issues with Windows Phone have been addressed, fixed and made better. With Windows Phone 8.1 right around the corner, there's a strong chance that Microsoft can win over a lot more people with a few more holes plugged. Will it happen? It sure sounds like it might.
What about you, though? Do you still have some lingering issues with Windows Phone that prevent you from using the platform? Are you looking forward to the time when you can switch to the mobile OS, or are you planning on sticking with what you're using now? Let me know!