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  • 1 Post By DougB541#CB
  1.    #1  
    I'm pretty sure this will be my future phone in the fall. Everything is just so...fresh. To me looking at what Microsoft is doing is so much more exciting than Palm, Apple or Google in terms of day to day usage.

    The Next Windows Phone: It's Pretty Great
    Matt Buchanan — Pleasant. That doesn't sound like much of an accomplishment, or a benchmark or like, impressive. But the truth is, most technology isn't pleasant. The new Windows Phone is. Very much so.
    It feels alive. Everything bounces. Everything swoops. Everything flips. Every single action is lushly animated. It just doesn't sweat the details—blood was spilled. The lock screen isn't a simple shade. It has a sense of weight and gravity; the further up you drag it before you let go, the faster it slams back down (if you don't completely unlock it). It's almost like the phone is happy to be alive. Which kind of makes you feel happy to use it. No other phone is like that.

    Windows Phone 7, when it launched back in October, was like a very promising baby. It was cute and reasonably genius-y for its age, but it also frequently **** the bed and was missing some teeth. By which I mean, in this painfully extended metaphor, it was missing major things like multitasking and copy & paste, piled on top of a load of other tiny deficiencies. It's grown up quick. Now, it feels like a complete person.

    So yeah, there's multitasking. (It's oddly the single gaudiest piece of interface on the phone. Whoever thought a gigantic, bold primary color background was a good idea is either blind or playing a trick on us.) And copy and paste. Those things matter, definitely. But it's all the little things, the tiny, uh, big decisions that Microsoft made all over that add up to make Windows Phone feel, well, whole. Like the way Microsoft ditched the mixed usage of the search button, so now it only launches Bing—before, sometimes it launched Bing, other times it launched contextual searches. You never knew. Now you do. Windows Phone also feels much, much faster, and that's even without a lot of apps re-written to take advantage of fast resume (*cough* Twitter *cough*). It's iPhone 4 fast now, most of the time.

    If anything, I sometimes wonder if Microsoft paid too much attention to the details—the way a conversation thread springs downward when you open one in mail is gorgeous, among a million other effects that shows how much they care—and not quite enough on making sure some of the big ideas worked perfectly. The way Windows Phone tries to re-conceive the act of searching completely contextually is radical and brilliant. And beautiful, frankly. But a lot of the local search information right now is fairly crappy. Local Scout, Bing's handy, not-as-****ty-as-Yelp local listings feature is fantastic, in theory. In practice, a lot of the listings are outdated (the Brooklyn Star's been open in a new spot for months now, and it's still showing the old listing, which is now in fact Best Pizza). Suggested attractions are terribly far away (in the context of New York City). And a lot of the review sections are completely barren. Or take text-to-speech: Admittedly, my vocal range approximates a redneck gorilla after half a bottle of whiskey and four packs of cigarettes, but not a single one of the text messages I dictated, no matter how precise my diction, came out correctly. (Optical and audio search were far more successful, though.)

    Even without Twitter integration built-in yet—I've been using a very early build of Mango, so a lot of stuff isn't finished, like Twitter and a lot of the app "hooks" Microsoft has been playing up—it's striking how much more connected to people Windows Phone now feels than any other phone, even Android. That's partly because of the baked-in Facebook chat that's neatly integrated with your text messages (though I'd kill for Jabber/Google Talk) and partly because the new Groups feature lets you seriously focus on the newsfeeds and messages of the people you really care about. That, and neither of these things are siloed as apps; they're just there, part of the phone. There's something pretty satisfying about pulling up a contact and seeing your entire email/chat/text history, or their most recent pictures or Facebook updates. It just makes sense.

    There's a lot more I could talk about: how music + videos is way more usable with its redesigned UI, or how IE9 is a pretty damn good mobile web browser, or how finding stuff in the Marketplace isn't broken anymore. Or conversely: how music streaming should work and feel more like Rdio, how there still needs to be universal search, how I'm still missing some key apps (I've got a list of devs for Microsoft to bribe, starting with Marco Arment and the Instagram guys), or how much more crossover I think there should be between Xbox on Windows Phone and Xbox in your living room. But the bottom line is that Windows Phone is now better and finally feeling complete, even with current quirks and bugs in this beta, like Facebook chat bombarding you with notifications that have to be cleared individually or Contacts' strange requirement that numbers fit precisely into Windows Phones' pre-designated categories for numbers. (It straight up ignores any number with a custom label.) In other words, I can't wait to see Mango when it's finally finished. It reminds me of the way the iPhone finally felt close to done with iOS 3.0.

    In the meantime, I'll say this: Pending some killer Nokia hardware or totally radical Android redesign, I think the choice this fall for all but the nerdiest of nerds is going to be very simple. iPhone or Windows Phone. Nothing else is that pleasant.

    Windows Phone ‘Mango’ preview | This is my next...

    Wrap Up
    Digging through Mango’s settings revealed that the version number is 7.5 — and after spending several days putting it through its paces, I’d argue that’s the right number. It’s more than a 7.1, less than an 8.0. Without question, Mango thoroughly addresses a few pain points that Windows Phone 7 users are experiencing today — none bigger than multitasking — but we’re going to need to wait until developers kick into high gear before we’re going to be able to see just how well Microsoft’s architecture works in practice. And really, Microsoft seems just as keen as ever on moving the conversation away from functionality line items and toward end-to-end user experiences — features like Bing Vision, for instance, that are completely effortless and seamless to use. That’s a familiar message that it’s been delivering since last year with Windows Phone 7′s initial launch. Granted, Mango delivers it with more credibility, but convincing manufacturers, carriers, and users that Windows Phone is a legitimate contender will be as difficult as ever, particularly with Ice Cream Sandwich and iOS 5 hitting the market around the same time. Regardless of Mango’s ultimate success at the register, though, I like more about Windows Phone in Mango than ever — and I’m definitely looking forward to playing with some final software and hardware.
    sm07 likes this.
  2. #2  
    I have a Windows Phone and must say I do really love it. Mich more intuitive than my previous iPhone. Mango looks to conyinue that.

    Parallels can be drawn between WP and WebOS in that Windows Synergy-like third-party integration flows through the OS.

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