7 Things You Can Do on a Windows Phone 7
That You Can’t Do on an iPhone
With this week’s North American debut of the Windows Phone 7 we decided to dive into the Microsoft vs Apple fray and see how Windows Phone 7 is going to stack up with iOS 4 (Full disclosure: Retrevo was selected by Microsoft to be a BizSpark One partner). Since its 2007 release the iPhone has dominated the smartphone market – recently its supremacy has been challenged by the Android OS, and now Microsoft is going to do its best to snatch some of that market-share as well. To have any hope of doing so however, Microsoft has to be able to offer something new or innovative to consumers. In that vein, here are a few things WP7 does that the iPhone does not.
#1 - No More Leaving
Your Avatar at Home
XBOX Live: Is this really important enough to be #1, you ask. Well, it’s my list and this alone might be enough to tear me away from my beloved BlackBerry. Productivity levels may plummet, but happiness levels will soar.
Microsoft already has a huge customer base they could potentially tap into if they execute this right, and so far reviews agree that the gaming experience has been exquisitely integrated into this phone. Travel between console and phone is seamless - you can pick up games where you left off on either device; message friends, view invites, leader-boards, and achievements. Even more impressive, the gaming experience is tight and responsive, the graphics crisp. Then there is your Avatar, who appears on your phone fully rendered with customization, and who cleverly interacts with the rest of your phone through normally staid apps, like flashlight and ruler. There are about sixty game titles that the phone will be launching with, including many familiar names - Halo, Guitar Hero, Crackdown, Star Wars, Sims 3, Need for Speed, to name a few.
#2 – Never Misspell ‘Onomatopoeia’ Again
MS Office: The other major delineation is WP7’s full Office integration. OneNote, email, calendar, PowerPoint, Excel and Word are all available in the Office Hub. You can pull files from either your phone or the cloud, view an outline of the document for easy navigation, perform basic edits to all file types, and save them. The email (Outlook, Yahoo, Gmail, etc.) and calendar applications communicate with each other automatically to schedule, and identify conflicts. One of the more surprising aspects missing from the phone is copy/paste. While Microsoft says it will be coming in an early 2011 update, it is going to hugely impact Office productivity in the meantime.
#3 – Feeding your Insatiable
Hubs: There are 6 Hubs on the WP7 – People, Pictures, Games, Music+Video, Marketplace, and Office. There was a debate as to whether this should make the list – after all there’s nothing here that the iPhone doesn’t also do. How the phone organizes this information on the other hand, is quite different. Take the People Hub as an example: it is both a contact list and a social networking tool in one. Rather than simply seeing your friend’s phone numbers or email addresses, People aggregates their information from separate sources and keeps a constant stream of information. So you no longer have to launch separate social networking apps to see your friends latest status updates or to update your own information. The organization of these Hubs makes me feel a teeny bit better about the phone’s egregious lack of multi-tasking capabilities, not that it isn’t still an unforgivable lapse on the part of Microsoft, especially in light of the recent release of iOS 4.
#4 – For Those of You Who Want to See the Other 50% of Web Video Content
Flash: There’s not a lot to editorialize on this one: the WP7 will fully support Flash 10.1, iPhone does not.
#5 – Making You Even More
Information Stream: Not only do you have the ability to “pin” whatever you like to your home-screen, but the applications there will continuously update. Example: the unlock screen has calendar and event data on it, making it easy to see what is coming up in your day without having to launch an application. Similarly, if you have favorite people pinned to the home-screen, you can see all their latest social networking updates.
#6 – What’s a Nice
QWERTY Like You Doing in a
Place Like This?
Real Keyboards: While this feature certainly isn’t overwhelming, it is maybe more significant than people realize. Personally, I could not function without a physical QWERTY keyboard, and if WP7 didn’t have one I would never even consider it (despite my adolescent yearning for the Xbox Live App). I guarantee I’m not alone in this. Because Microsoft doesn’t control hardware design the way Apple does, there are quite a few different phone models that will be running Win 7, several with both on-screen and physical keyboards.
#7 - Wait, what?
I Can Make Phone Calls too!?
Multiple Carriers: Yes, it’s at the bottom of the list, but don’t let that fool you. WP7 does not have an exclusive contract with AT&T. ‘Nuff said.