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Gizmodo declares, "Ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves a race" in smartphones.  (Source: Gizmodo.com)
Apps are rough and no multi-tasking blows, but not a bad start from the new OS

With the U.S. launch of Windows Phone 7 devices just around the corner (November 8), early reviews of the new mobile OS from Microsoft (and the hardware it runs on) are starting to emerge. So far, it appears that the product has a real chance to carve out a nice little niche in the budding smartphone market, though there are a few early hiccups.

Engadget didn't see a reason to completely re-write their mid-summer review of a developer device running Windows Phone 7. At the time, they said it felt incomplete -- which it was -- but there haven't been any major overhauls since then. Instead, they went back and annotated their original review with some nice additions. The following are a few take-aways:

- The software's touch-responsiveness and speed are to be celebrated, though the way applications appear in long, alphabetized lists can become tedious -- no improvement over iOS and Android's grids.
- The lack of copy-and-paste is unforgivable, though a software fix is coming "early 2011".
- No support for third-party multitasking of apps is "practically inexcusable".
- The WP7 touchscreen keyboard is very good. Almost as good as Apple's, and definitely better than stock Android.
- Facebook is deeply integrated into the OS, and is unavoidable, which could irk some. Lack of Twitter integration is puzzling.
- Web browsing is "a really pleasant experience," despite the fact that many websites that detect iPhone and Android devices to show tailored versions don't have the same functionality for WP7, and instead load unsightly WAP versions.
- One troubling area was third-party apps. "In almost every application we used besides some of the Xbox Live titles, there were major problems with either loading, rendering, navigation, or stability," Engadget writes. "Even from respected app-makers like Seesmic, the results seemed second rate in comparison to same applications on other platforms."
- Their closing comments complimented the effort, but said that the OS is at least a year behind market leaders.

Anandtech also conducted its own (very) in-depth review of Windows Phone 7. Some highlights:

- "The underlying architecture is well engineered, high performing and extremely efficient."
- Anandtech had a difference of opinion about the listed apps, praising the format's simplicity and ease of finding items over a grid.
- The UI is very clean, attractive, and smooth, thanks to a minimalist approach.
- Facebook integration is the best out of any other device.
- XBox Live integration and Windows Phone cloud access are nice touches.
- Internet Explorer mobile is much slower at loading webpages than on other OS's because of lower Javascript performance.
- The lack of quality apps and conventional task switching "are the two biggest issues facing Windows Phone 7 today."
- Windows Phone is more like an iPhone than an Android.

If the Anandtech review is too exhaustive, and you want a simple, straight-to-the-point overview, the folks over at Gizmodo have provided one. Gizmodo does a particularly good job of breaking down the OS's interface to three core concepts: Hubs, which are panoramic apps that span multiple screens; Live Tiles, which are home screen icons that update with new info (though not quite as in-depth as Android widgets); and the App Bar, "a semi-persistent menu/taskbar that hides deeper actions—like starting a new email or switching tabs in Internet Explorer."

Gizmodo also applauds WP7 for striking the "best balance of any smartphone between web-oriented and local storage, using the cloud for info like contacts and apps, tying itself to a PC (or Mac, with a basic client) only for big updates, music and video syncing."

Overall, they like the polished feel of the OS, with its beautiful, minimalist appeal. What they don't like is the fact that the home screen can only hold eight tiles, requiring a lot of side-swiping. Other drawbacks include the lack of a singular e-mail app (each account takes its own tile), lack of multi-tasking, and the cumbersome nature of searching for apps. Again, apps and multi-tasking.

The verdict? "Windows Phone 7 is really great. A solid foundation, it's elegant and joyful." It may not be an instant iPhone or Android killer, but it certainly is an option to consider. Once the bugs are worked out and the developer ecosystem is filled out, we'll have a clearer picture.





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It begs the question...
By quiksilvr on 10/21/2010 3:27:42 PM , Rating: 4
Why not?

"Hmm. Copy and paste? Eh, we'll do that later." Is it REALLY that hard to implement? I mean...its just...copy and paste.

Same with multi-task. I am sure it will be implemented within the next few months, but seriously...why isn't it there?

Was it because of the Kin? Was it?! DAMN YOU, KIN!




RE: It begs the question...
By SkullOne on 10/21/2010 3:43:47 PM , Rating: 5
Good question but at the same time why are people not giving MS a pass on this like they did Apple? It took Apple 4 YEARS to get multi-tasking while MS will be a few months. Copy and Paste took Apple 3 YEARS while MS will be a few months.

I just don't get it. iPhone was hailed as the best shit since sliced bread every new rehashed release and OS update when basic functionality was missing. MS released WP7 without two pieces of functionality, promise to have it added in a few months and they get lambasted for it.


RE: It begs the question...
By SAmely on 10/21/2010 3:54:50 PM , Rating: 5
It probably has to do with the fact that in the market WP7 is entering, these two pieces of functionality are commonplace. Plus, Windows Mobile had copy and paste.

However, I do like the fact that it won't be long until it's added.


RE: It begs the question...
By ChronoReverse on 10/21/2010 4:20:01 PM , Rating: 5
Probably because Apple had a headstart back then in terms of modern style smartphones.

Nowadays, all the other competitors have cut and paste while WP7 doesn't. The add insult to the injury is that Windows Mobile had a perfectly functional copy and paste.


RE: It begs the question...
By Da W on 10/21/2010 4:42:14 PM , Rating: 2
If all detractor can find is lack of copy and paste... it must be a pretty damn good OS in other aspects. Do you notice how fast are people ranting against any Apple or Microsoft article here on daily tech??? How many of you are on google's payroll?

We will see a Mac vs Windows vs Linux style fight again. Yes the G fanboys can always brag about more functionnality, and i'm sure google will always stay ahead in that department. But android is nothing more than a blatant ripoff of iOS. At least microsoft made something NEW, and simple to use.

Anyway, Windows won because of 2 things: apps and games. For apps, there is office in particular. So apps and games will make or break WP7. Not some silly thing like deleyead copy and paste.


RE: It begs the question...
By Leper Messiah on 10/21/10, Rating: -1
RE: It begs the question...
By vesord on 10/22/2010 7:52:13 AM , Rating: 4
http://blogs.pcworld.com/staffblog/archives/TI%20A...

Original Android. Looks cool isn't it ? And do you think iPhone is just born from nothing in 2007. May be Apple was infected with Eric Schmidt trojan horse.


RE: It begs the question...
By robert5c on 10/21/2010 5:20:29 PM , Rating: 2
ah but this OS isn't a upgrade or generation to Windows Mobile, its a clean slate, with a foundation if you would call from the zune...

zune didn't have multitasking or copy and paste...ahhhh that makes more sense then comparing it to WinMo :D


RE: It begs the question...
By xNIBx on 10/22/2010 3:39:58 AM , Rating: 5
Copy/paste and multitasking was standard for other mobile os back then when the first iphone came out.


RE: It begs the question...
By mcnabney on 10/21/10, Rating: -1
RE: It begs the question...
By Spivonious on 10/21/2010 4:28:22 PM , Rating: 5
Did you read the Anandtech review? It addressed your points.

- everything runs very fast, with only the XBL app being a bit sluggish
- they ran into no problems browsing sites
- this is the same as Apple and look how many people buy iPhone
- they support everything Apple does and some extra. That's enough for 95% of users.
- visual voicemail is probably a carrier dependent thing, and therefore can't be part of the standard WP7 OS.
- yes, you can. Anandtech has an image of browsing while talking
- this is actually an advantage, since the experience will be the same between devices. It will also encourage hardware designers to think outside the box.
- iPhone was the same way. And I think 1000+ apps at launch is pretty good.
- This is only because the carriers don't know how the public will react. They don't want to invest a lot in R&D for a product no one wants. Better designs will come. And the phone models are 6 months old. Not exactly "antiquated".


RE: It begs the question...
By omnicronx on 10/21/2010 4:36:27 PM , Rating: 3
BS..

-Apps don't run slowly.
-The browser is actually quite good reviews. (used it myself, I was quite surprised)
-it surely does support video containers(don't know where you pulled this out one of. If anything video codec support is BETTER than other platforms, it supports divx out of the box).
-Can do data and talk at the same time.. don't know what you are talking about.
-Fixed hardware design? THATS A GOOD THING for consumers!
-A new platform without a bunch of apps to start with, really?
-Old hardware? Buddy really, we are in Q4 and there has yet to be a phone clocked over 1GHZ (which is the MS requirement). They will be just as advanced as Android hardware when released.

All in all, you are just talking out of your ***

The biggest problems with Windows Phone 7 is not anything you've named, or multitasking and copy paste.. Its the fact that many API's within the OS are currently not available to 3rd party developers (i.e everyone else).

But of course, that will change pretty quickly too..


RE: It begs the question...
By Da W on 10/21/2010 4:51:03 PM , Rating: 1
You're a stupid google fanboy.

-Are there any android device with a pop-up speaker like the HTC surround? Name one!
-Android music player don't amount to shit. Even apple's don't match up against zune. Music is one of the primary thing i will do with my phone, fuckingly important.
-Droid X, Samsung galaxy S are antiquated hardware? WHAT?
-What other phone has office? Name one where you can show your powerpoint from your phone via a mini-hdmi jack on a big screen TV in a conference room?

The only big weakness i find on WP7 that i would think of getting a nexus one instead is for the wi-fi hotspot. Cool feature.


RE: It begs the question...
By theapparition on 10/21/2010 4:51:35 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
It took Apple 4 YEARS to get multi-tasking while MS will be a few months.

Keep that yearly timer running for 3rd party multitasking on iOS. It still isn't true multitasking.


RE: It begs the question...
By MrX8503 on 10/22/2010 8:45:15 AM , Rating: 2
Its because WP7 is entering a market with other competitors already implementing copy/paste and multitasking.

Add to the fact that WP7 is also many years late to the game.


RE: It begs the question...
By SkullOne on 10/22/2010 9:21:14 AM , Rating: 2
That's a worthless argument. BB and WinMo had Copy and Paste long before the iPhone was introduced.


RE: It begs the question...
By milkyway4me on 10/21/2010 4:13:55 PM , Rating: 2
Probably because most people don't care about copy/paste on a smartphone. I've had my Storm2 for over a year and I still don't use copy/paste, ever. Multitasking is another matter entirely though... that's something I use heavily on my BB.


RE: It begs the question...
By ChronoReverse on 10/21/2010 4:20:49 PM , Rating: 2
People have different needs. C&P AND multitasking are crucial for my workflow for instance.


RE: It begs the question...
By ScotterQX6700 on 10/22/2010 8:27:11 PM , Rating: 2
I use copy & paste daily.


RE: It begs the question...
By Spivonious on 10/21/2010 4:22:08 PM , Rating: 4
I'm confused on the multitasking thing. WP7 does exactly what iOS 4 does. Switch to a different app, switch back (using the back button) and your app is just how you left it.


RE: It begs the question...
By omnicronx on 10/21/2010 4:24:59 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Is it REALLY that hard to implement?
Simply put, yes, yes it is. Just ask Apple.. Microsoft has the exact same problem with everything being sandboxed.

Its not as simple as, stick this in memory, retrieve this from memory.

Same thing with multitask, I'd rather not have it at all then some half baked solution. Windows Phone will get multitasking abilities, just not from launch. Heck, I don't even find myself using it much on iOS. Because of the way it is designed, (you goto hold and press the center button or go back to the app from the main screen) I could care less for 99% of the apps I use anyways, freezing the screen state is often enough, I don't need it sitting in the background eating up more battery. Only thing I really use it for is 3rd party media applications.

If you want a good example of multitasking, look at WebOS, by far the best (I actually do keep multiple things open all the time). Androids solution is half baked at best, and accessing programs in the background is always a pain.


RE: It begs the question...
By jimhsu on 10/21/2010 5:37:21 PM , Rating: 2
From a technical perspective no. From a usability standpoint, yes copy and paste is REALLY difficult.

Mobile devices these days are essentially one button mice with a large touch surface. Now to implement copy and paste, do you:

1. Use a keyboard shortcut - too convoluted. And how would you select content?

2. Hold down a finger on the screen. Should you show it in the context menu (or is there too much stuff there already). Should you show it next to the item - what if the pop up box covers the content you're trying to copy, or goes off the screen, or is too small to be readable? What about the duration of touch - too long, too short? How do you handle HTML elements - copying from the middle of one DIV to another, more than one TABLE cell, interactive content, pop up content, modal content, etc etc.

3. Use an external button that brings up a selector - too many buttons on the device already! What if the user accidentally presses it? How can you tell if the user wants to cut, copy, or paste?

You see it's an enormous usability issue, not a technical issue.


RE: It begs the question...
By wanorris on 10/21/2010 11:14:05 PM , Rating: 2
From a technical standpoint, the other issue is security. If you copy private data from app 1 to app 2, it could be a security breach for that data to be hanging around in your clipboard for some random app to find. Considering all the Android apps that have been found to not play nicely with your data, this isn't a purely theoretical problem.

Having said that, the only reason I give Microsoft a pass on a feature I consider fundamental is that they're supposed to have C&P by the time they release a CDMA phone anyway.


RE: It begs the question...
By Wiggy Mcshades on 10/21/2010 6:01:31 PM , Rating: 2
Applications that are "running in the background" don't actually take up any cpu cycles (so in effect no power). The threads for the application that you minimized are halted and any data related to them is stored in memory. When you go to open the application again it figures out how to start a new identical thread from the stored data so it seems as if the program was just paused in the background. The application is effectively closed besides the small (compared to a full running program) amount of memory used to store the threads' data. For media applications running in the background lets just say playing music it just lets the one thread for audio playback to keep running and stops the threads that were for the ui ect ect the same way as before. That's how all the multitasking on mobile devices works, the way the user gets to interact with that mechanic is really what makes webOS's version better than android.


RE: It begs the question...
By omnicronx on 10/21/2010 7:42:09 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure how iOS handles multitasking in iOS4, but that is not 'how all mobile devices work'.(nor do I think you are correct with iOS either)

WebOS is the perfect example, you can open any two cards and you can clearly watch both being active at the same time.

From what I remember on my iPad, it also works in the background (via the 4.2 dev preview). As long as the app is not idle, its going to be consuming resources, including cpu cycles.

In fact Apple even recommends shutting down extra Applications for this very reason.

Multitasking on mobile devices is a true form of multitasking, whether or not you get even close to the same priority level as say, running an app in the background on a desktop remains to be seen. I know back from my Windows Mobile coding days that this is how it worked. (apps in background would have far less priority than foreground apps)


RE: It begs the question...
By omnicronx on 10/21/2010 8:04:25 PM , Rating: 2
Not that your incorrect about UI elements and such, but if I have an app that every 5 minutes refreshes the page (perhaps a news app or something), its still going to do so in the background unless the developer has specifically coded the app not too.. i.e its been coded to only perform certain tasks during particular sates


RE: It begs the question...
By omnicronx on 10/21/2010 8:29:15 PM , Rating: 3
Looks like you are partly correct about iOS though. Fastswitch by default and limited access to background api's if the developer chooses to implement it.. (uploading picks, gps info, etc)..

That being said if you were to background an app that makes use of these features, it will remain active, and as such will impact battery life.

In Android, you are not so limited (you have access to services for any background tasks you wish to perform)


RE: It begs the question...
By GoodBytes on 10/21/10, Rating: 0
RE: It begs the question...
By MDGeek on 10/21/10, Rating: -1
"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates











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