Saturday, August 09, 2014

Why I Returned to my Galaxy S3

Back in January, I was due for a phone upgrade. I was a Windows Mobile user way back, and had my fill of the platform. Although there were a lot of developers creating great applications for the platform, Windows Mobile itself was unstable and unreliable. The Samsung Epix was my last straw, to the point where I sold a few things and begged money from my dad to get an iPhone 3G, which I paid full price for as I was out of cycle for an upgrade.

I had a total of 3 iPhones. Then I got a Galaxy S3 last year.

Late last year, a coworker got a Nokia phone with Windows Phone 8 on it. He was happy with it. I thought it would be a good time to return to the Windows platform, which integrates well with Windows 8.1 on PCs and tablets.

And it truly does. Microsoft FINALLY put out a good phone OS. I got the developer preview of Windows Phone 8.1, which I'm still running on that phone.

However, it's less than ideal. While the platform itself is well built and stable, the script is now flipped. Instead of Windows Mobile which absolutely sucked but had good developer support, I find Windows Phone to be great but has poor developer support.

Unfortunately, in this day and age, it's the apps that make the platform. Your phone itself can have the best, most stable operating system around, but without apps, it's limited.

I call Windows "The Forgotten Platform". Developers have largely forgotten it. Some, such as Web IS, refuse to develop for it entirely. Their Pocket Informant was my favorite app on Windows Mobile. Not going to happen for Windows Phone. Similar for MyLifeOrganized and Nozbe.

I use Waze heavily. Waze has not had an update in over 6 months. Amazon released a Kindle app for Windows Phone, but it sucks. You can't highlight or make notes in books, and while it can retrieve your place from the server, it won't save your place back to the server. The same problem exists in Kindle for Windows 8, which likewise hasn't been updated since October of 2013. Meanwhile, Kindle for iOS and Android have had multiple updates and is a joy to use on both platforms.

I'm also a heavy podcast user, but there is not a single useable podcast app for Windows Phone 8. I did find a free one that offered variable playback speed, but it can't import. The native podcast app suffers from the same problem, and is limited to its own catalog, which doesn't have more than half of the podcasts I listen to. Even when I enter the URL manually, it can't find it because it only looks in its own catalog. Since I got the Windows Phone back in January, I've had to keep my Galaxy S3 around just to listen to podcasts.

Additionally, the phone I chose, a Nokia 920, has a horrible battery life. I'm forced to run in Battery Saver mode all the time unless I want my phone to be dead in under 3 hours. This limits operation.

So yesterday, I swapped my SIM card back into my Galaxy S3. Now I only have to carry one phone with me.

One strong positive to the Windows Phone is it integrates well with Microsoft Sync in my car. It will read my texts to me while I'm driving. However, the voice recognition flat out sucks, so I can't dictate responses like I could on the Galaxy.

I'll probably get one of the new iPhones when they come out later this year. I'm running the Yosemite beta on my MacBook Pro, and iOS 8 is supposed to integrate well on it.
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