The Great Phone Adventure Part 2
As I mentioned in part 1, I am a displaced Windows Phone fan, struggling to find a replacement, and a way forward in mobile as the Windows Mobile ship sets sail (or sinks). The new path was blazed with an incident that happened on Christmas of all times. I was taking pictures with my Windows phone (running Win Mobile 10 preview) of my son and one of his cousins playing together. They are both under the age of three so getting a good picture of them where it is not blurry is few and far between. They just so happened to be enthralled with a new toy cement mixer so I snapped some pics. I took a few more pics and the phone completely froze. I restarted it and ALL the pics I had just taken were gone. I popped out the SD card thinking maybe the library had just become corrupt but it was as if the images had never been taken to begin with. I was very frustrated and received some jeers and taunts from the crowd about how I should get an iPhone. They just work. I had begun to consider an iPhone even before this, as most of my family has one, and I do have an iPad so I was familiar with it.
I am a huge fan of the podcast Windows Weekly over on Twit where Paul Thurrott and Mary Jo Foley were beginning to discuss options for the Microsoft fans out there. The people, whom like me, run Microsoft Services (Hotmail/Outlook, OneDrive, Office, etc). Paul even recommended the iPhone 6s as his overall smartphone of choice for 2015.
I switched to iPhone right before the end of the year. Immediately loving the battery life and camera. More so than that were the app choices. I would just sit there and download app after app. I found my bank apps, I found local news apps, I found games, I could listen to Amazon Prime music through their app, did I mention bank apps? It was great. The phone just worked. The fingerprint reader was awesome, iPhone got me hooked on that- i will never get another phone without one. So easy and seamless, from unlocking the phone to iTunes purchases, to logging into my bank’s mobile app. Very slick. I went all in with Apple Pay too. Linking my card up to that, with the
hopes that I could further lessen what I needed that old fashioned thing called a wallet for. I had my music setup with Groove (that app needs work), backed my photos up with OneDrive, used Outlook as my mail client, and even installed the Cortana app.
Since my family uses iPhones they were quick to notice when my messages would show up as iMessages instead of regular text or MMS. I got several responses “Did you get an iPhone?”, “No freaking way!”, “You finally saw the light”. My response was that I had switched to the Dark Side out of necessity but that there were things I really liked about it that would never make it into Windows Phone. Mainly I had my apps. Apps for everything.
As I began using the iPhone more and more, I began to have some frustrations with it. Running into the locked Apple ecosystem wall. iOS has no notion of “default apps”. I wanted to use Firefox (Safari doesn’t even count as a browser on the PC), to sync my bookmarks between mobile and desktop. I wanted to use Outlook because the email is vastly superior to the built in Apple Email. In fact on my phone and still on my iPad is a folder on the far last screen that says Apple Crap. In it I placed all the Apple crap they won’t let you remove that I didn’t want to use. I was able to do this for the most part with success. But for instance if I was in an Apple screen and wanted to share something via email it wanted me to use Apple Email, or if I opened a link in a chat or text message it would open Safari. I am an Audible user and Apple won’t let you purchase items within the Audible app for fear that you would purchase content elsewhere and not through the mighty iTunes. These are all little things, but they start to add up quickly. I wanted something more open. More like, dare I say it, Windows is on the desktop. Apple I don’t want you to tell me that you know best what I want or need.
In playing with the features of Siri, I found that she severely lacked the features or intelligence of Cortana. But I could never fully replace Siri because that would be blasphemy in the eyes of Cupertino. They also don’t let you change one personal assistant for another. My favorite example of Siri’s stupidity was when I first tried to setup nicknames. I’m paraphrasing this a bit so bear with me. “Call mom cell”, “who is your mom?”, “Becky”, “Want me to remember that for you?”, “Yes”….. an hour later “Call mom cell”, “Who is your mom”….. it went on and on. It worked to add my dad and brother. But Siri had it out for my mom apparently. Siri and I also argued many times over text message dictation. She is not a fan of you when you swear at her.
The iPhone met a lot of my needs: the design is excellent, the software and hardware meld very well together. The camera is great. There are a lot of nice things about the phone, but it is weighed down by the OS design. Its been the same design since the beginning. I missed my live tiles, badge indicators weren’t enough for me. I finally started to explore Android with a cheap prepaid phone I bought on Amazon…. I wasn’t done phone shopping yet.