This July, I got myself a shiny new Lumia 640 XL. Having been an Android user till then, I was constantly annoyed that any website I visited asked me to install their mobile app on android. Plus, my amazing Nexus 4’s battery gave way – I guess its because I used fake and in-compatible chargers – and I was on the look out for a new mobile. I wanted to try something other than Android and IOS was frankly much too expensive – though still exquisite. But after 5 months’ struggle with Windows, I am ready to pen down my war story.
Let’s be honest here. Google is just starving Windows phone out of existence and Microsoft hasn’t been helping itself. I have read that Microsoft had developed a Youtube client for Windows phone that Google blocked because it did not comply with their policies. Google had alleged that the client does not display adds and allows downloads. I do not know if these allegations are true as I have not used the app myself, but if they were, it is pretty dumb on MS’s part eh?
But the issue in question is the lack of a decent navigation app on the phone. You can use Google maps on mobile, but the pinch zoom was horrible and did not work at all on my Lumia 640 and it does not have turn by turn voice navigation. Windows maps are just half as good as Google maps. Though they have significant amounts of data, they have yet to cover the smaller details that make Google maps just so intuitive and powerful. For example, Windows maps has turn by turn navigation, but; you cannot ask it to keep only on the main roads, it does not detect ‘slight lefts and rights’ correctly and rather than announcing that ‘your destination is on right’, it asks you to turn right at which time, you are looking for a road that does not exist while some moron is honking you straight to hell. Yes, Windows Maps has offline navigation, but, Meh!
Windows phone has a decent collection of those if you are in India. There’s Uber, Ola, Freecharge, Paytm, Food Panda, Dominos etc. They are okay. Amazon and Flipkart are there too, but all of these guys treat WP as a second class citizen. Some of them lack features – for example, Amazon does not host treasure hunts on Windows phone, but on the whole, you can get along real fine.There is a good collection of popular games as well. No complaints here.
The problem comes when you go looking for something out of the ordinary. I for one, wanted an app that would set off an alarm upon receiving SMS containing certain words. This was not available off the shelf. So I decided to write one. But I faced problems on that front as well which brings me to the next topic.
Pay to develop apps
When I wanted to write my SMS alarm app, I checked out their hello world tutorial. I had to use Visual Studio to develop my app – fair enough. But then, it is not available on Mac. I have an office supplied Mac and I could not install parallels or any other virtualization software to install Windows and did not want to pay for it in the first place anyway. I could get my Mac exchanged for a Windows PC at my office, but Meh!
My Lumia costs a cool 15,000 Rupees off the shelf. I managed to get a discount, but its still a lot of money. In that segment, it is competing with the MI4, One plus One, One plus X, Moto G etc. These are frankly much better phones. They have better touch screen, better resolutions and run on a better platform. They have plastics. MS simply cannot compete with this lot with their phone unless they provide superb end to end experiences like iStore and Play store to some extent.
I installed the developer preview of Windows Phone 10. This brings a modern look to the OS at a time when Google and Apple are going context sensitive with Google Now and Siri. Cortana is nowhere near good enough. The office suite on Windows Phone 10 is more than competent with Outlook as its email client, Cloud Drive integration etc. Universal apps and Continuum sound cool, but I am skeptical because, I’m not sure how many app developers even consider a native desktop client. The motivation for UAs and Continuum thus seems to be productivity improvement for people using the office suite a lot. What is their market share and how many of them are willing to own a Windows Phone is a huge question mark.
I ended up exchanging my Lumia for a OPO at one of WeBuys’ outlets for a price I thought was better than anything I could get for my brick of a phone. There are people who are still willing to buy one it seems. But, Microsoft simply has to get its pricing right. The most expensive windows phone is a cool 50,000 Rupees. It is about as expensive as a Nexus 6P and these two phones are nowhere near comparable. If MS cannot do that, Win Phone is going nowhere.