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Two Weeks with Windows Phone 8

Two Weeks with Windows Phone 8

Ever since I received my Nokia Lumia 520 two weeks ago I’ve been using Windows Phone 8 as my daily driver, and a couple of days ago marks 2 weeks of using the platform. I wanted to give myself a decent stint using Windows Phone to see whether the OS is the right choice for me. As a techie and love trying everything that is out, and I’m in a position where I can simply pick and choose whichever phones and operating systems I want to use. If I don’t like something I can simply return to what I know and use the most which is Android. I wanted to get some serious use of the refreshed Windows Phone OS under my belt, after using it for two weeks it’s right for me.

The Highlights

One of the definite highlights of my time using Windows Phone 8 was the Live Tile touting Start screen, which is by far the best way to quickly display information on the homescreen of a device. Everything you want to know is just there, at a glance, without any of the hassle of having to open up an application. And the square grid arrangement – complemented by icons, colors, photos, and data – is simple yet aesthetically sublime.

The other highlight is the fluidity of using the operating system. Animations are smooth, transitioning beautifully from app to app with little delay, while general UI actions feel incredibly responsive and fast. When using third-party apps it never feels like you’ve left the Windows Phone environment, as the vast majority of developers have coded applications to the same design standards used throughout the system interface.

I enjoyed waking up every day to a different lock screen image thanks to Bing’s rotating backgrounds, and searching was always visually pleasing and quick, thanks to the combination of a physical search button and the imagery used in the search app. Information was always presented in an uncluttered way, so that the important stuff was always front-and-center without any unnecessary distractions.

Windows Phone’s included keyboard is also one of the best going around, offering quick predictions and fluid use in a simple, “it just works” fashion. Even using the keyboard across a range of phones with different display sizes and resolutions, the learning curve was always small, allowing me to simply pick up another device and continue my typing style without any significant changes. You can’t use a third-party keyboard in WP8, but so what? The included one doesn’t need replacing.

Praise also needs to be given for the Gaming Hub, which is a go-to destination for all smartphone games on Windows Phone that prevents app list clutter from having games slotted in-between productivity apps. A number of games are integrated with Xbox Live, meaning I can add to my gamerscore on the fly and SmartGlass integration with my Xbox 360 works the best on Windows Phone.

Finally, the default, out-of-the-box Windows Phone 8 configuration is one of the best going around. Often when I get an Android device I’m setting it up for first use, I need to comb through the device and app settings to make sure everything works the way I like, but with Windows Phone there’s little that needs tweaking; and let’s not forget device syncing to the cloud which makes setting up a new Windows Phone even easier.

The Problems

With Windows Phone 8 there is no glaring flaw, or huge omission that makes the entire operating system a pain to use, but more a combination of smaller factors and annoyances that aren’t present on other established platforms. What makes these issues more annoying is that with a bit of extra time, polish and development, all of them could be addressed in a future update with relative ease.

The principle used for Windows Phone, like iOS, is that for the most part it “just works” with little configuration needed. For end-users and those with lesser experience using smartphones, this approach is fantastic as a complex array of settings and options can be overwhelming, and often some feature highlights can be missed unless you are told they are there. With Windows Phone the best stuff is enabled by default, and a variety of other extra features are very easy to enable.

And let’s not forget Google integration: a complete and utter mess that needs attention from both parties. It’s like a breath of fresh air going back to Android and having a proper Gmail app, full Calendar integration, and a decent mapping app.

I am moving permanently to Windows Phone as my phone platform of choice, Windows Phone 8 is close to doing everything I want, while Android is just that little bit closer I will keep using my Nexus 7 for everything else that WP8 is lacking.

Christopher Davis
Christopher loves all technology and is a self-proclaimed geek at heart. He loves trying the newest things that comes to the market. You can follow him on Google+

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