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Cortana, Action Center, Swype, new themes: Microsoft pours on improvements, but is it enough?

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) this week announced the next generation of its smartphone platform, Windows Phone.  Windows Phone is currently the world's third largest smartphone platform by sales volume, behind Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android and Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) iOS.

I. Windows Phone Gets Inspired

While Microsoft has a lot of ground to gain before it can come close to matching the app catalogs of Apple and Google's platforms, Windows Phone 8.1 does creep Windows Phone much closer to complete feature equivalence to its rivals, while adding some features its rivals lack.

In other words, this is the bottom line, take it to the presses message about Windows Phone 8.1:  Microsoft has finally transcended the stylish, but "me too" feel of Windows Phone 7 and 8, and delivered a release that does many things its competitors can't, or do far worse.




II. Virtual Buttons

"Hard buttons" have long driven smartphones, with either pushbutton (rubbery) or haptic button (e.g. capacitive button) designs. Apple's iPhone arguably started the great hard button culling, claiming phones only needed 1 hard button.  Android stepped things up even further, doing away with buttons entirely -- instead using on-screen soft-buttons.
Nokia Lumia 630

Both virtual buttons and hard buttons accompany some space.  

But virtual buttons have a couple of key advantages.  First they can shave as much as $20 USD off a bill of materials and reduce the number of failures via incorporating less parts in your design.  Also, they can be hidden at will to add a bit of extra screen real estate.

There are some disadvantages as well -- namely virtual buttons often aren't as responsive as actual physical buttons.

III. Cortana -- the Best Voice Assistant?

Another major addition is Cortana, a voice assistant tightly integrated into the entire Windows Phone 8.1 operating system.  While some may view this as a "me too" response to Apple's Siri (and to a lesser extent, Google Now), remember that Nuance Communications Inc. (NUAN) was the primary developer of Siri, not Apple.

All of these solutions are the result of graph theory and roughly three decades worth of effort by university researchers.  We're fast approaching the 30th anniversary of the Cognitive Science Laboratory of Princeton University's WordNet project.  The 1985 project -- and a couple of similar efforts of the time -- pioneered much of the low-level technology that developed into the Cortana, Siris, and Google Nows of today.

So none of these solutions are really "new".  They're all old hat.  Apple commercialized the technology first.  The natural next question is who can commercialize a product noticeably superior to that first generation graph theory-based assistant -- Siri.

Wordnet treebolic
WordNet predated Siri by two and a half decades. [Image Source: Univ. of Sheffield uSpace]

Apple surely would like to best its own effort.  But if anything, Apple is in the weakest position right now.  Nuance rebuffed Apple investor Carl Icahn's takeover overture last year.  Nuance VP Matt Revis in Jan. 2013 declared that Nuance "want[s] to be completely platform agnostic."

Nuance's Project Wintermute was teased at last year and this year got official as Nuance Coud Services.  In a press release Nuance described:

Brand A might be interested in three unique personalities for its voice assistant, while Brand B may want to lead with a security story bolstered by voice biometrics. Nuance Cloud Services can offer the breadth of capability – voice recognition, voice biometrics, intelligent conversational systems – and the depth of customization to match any brand’s preference.

Most have said that Microsoft's Cortana was developed solely in house.  Google says the same thing about Google Now.  I wouldn't be so sure.  It would not come as a surprise to me if Microsoft is blending its own fledgling Satori knowledge engine -- an evolution and first productization of Microsoft Research's Trinity graph database -- with Nuance's Cloud Services.


But like Google, Microsoft is in a stronger position as it developed at least a substantial portion of its natural language recognition solution itself.  By contrast, Nuance has implied on numerous occasions that Apple played a far more hands off role in Siri's development.

Now, with Nuance straying, Apple -- and Siri -- may be in trouble.  And Cortana is more than happy to cause trouble.

Microsoft's goal with Cortana was clearly to take the best bits of Siri and Google Now, and then add on even more functionality.  Cortana can schedule reminders, set appointments, dial by voice, dictate messages, and perform local and internet searches.

Cortana

Cortana aims to "get to know you" on an even deeper (or creepier?) level than Siri. She learns your interests, your "inner circle" of trusted friends, what hours you want to keep quiet, and other pertinent details.  These details allow Cortana to do things, like control who can access you during your "quiet hours" or help you plan trips (even suggesting locations for sightseeing, for example based on your interests).

Cortana trip planner

Microsoft helps to de-creepify this process, however, by keeping on the details Cortana has gleaned in the Cortana Notebook section of the Cortana app.  If Cortana gets something wrong -- or there's something you're not comfortable with Cortana knowing, you can always go in there and delete away.

Cortana's Notebook

You can even authorize Cortana to scan your email to spot details like flight times.  The information is stored locally, but Microsoft promises it is secure (Sureee...). Cortana can also do unit conversions, count calories for you, and tell you the weather.  It even cracks Siri-like jokes.
 
One of the neatest features shown -- something Siri can't currently do -- is to log a reminder that plays next time you communicate with a specific contact (even one referred to by a familiar title like "mom", "dad", or "my sister").  You can even tell Cortana how you plan on communicating with that contact (what channels to watch on).
 
Cortana is currently a U.S. only feature, as it's still in beta.  Eventually it will be rolled out to other regions like Europe and Asia.
 
One way where Microsoft has an advantage over Google and Apple is that it is utilizing cloud-based natural language recognition technology in multiple products, versus Google and Apple whose use is monopolized by mobile.  The first major application of Satori and the SDKs that underlie Cortana was in last fall's Xbox One
 
Many of Cortana's cool third-party features (via Microsoft's developer SDKs) will sound familiar to Xbox users; you can ask what's up with your friends on Facebook, Inc. (FB) or tell Hulu to add a TV show/episode to your queue, just like you can on your Xbox One.
 
Another way Cortana trumps Siri: it can fully interact with the user via text, perfect for noisy locations.
 
III. Action Center and Word Flow
 
Google's Android is the king of notifications.  Included since the first mass market release of Android in 2008, the Notification Bar has been slowly expanded and diversified into a rich hub for fast access of common settings and alerts -- including carrier messages, messages from Google, and important messages from third party apps.
 
Apple was late to the notifications game.  It first tried to cobble popup push notifications onto iOS 4.0, with relatively poor results.  Then in 2011 it finally "fixed" notifications, with iOS 5.0's new Notification Center.
 
Microsoft is ridiculously late to this game, but at last it has a notifications center of its own -- Action Center.  As with Google's Notification hub, it is accessible via a simple downswipe.  The familiar items – Wi-Fi connections, app messages, system messages, carrier messages, screen brightness, etc., are here.

Action Center

But here comes the twist -- Microsoft actually offers something Google and Apple don't -- the ability to swap out its preferred System items in the notification tray for others.  In that regard Microsoft appears to have taken advantage of its years waiting and watching Apple and Google's Notifications Centers.
Nokia Action Center

Here's a video of the center in action ... er, no pun intended:



Having to go clicking through multiple menu screens to do something simple like discover a Bluetooth device or access WiFi was a major headache, marring the overall polish of the OS.  In that regarding including a notification center was an absolute necessity, but Microsoft delivered and then some.

IV. Word Flow

Word Flow is basically Swype (which Nuance owns and licenses to Google) on steroids.

Lumia 630

Maybe this is something Nuance has been cooking up (after all Nuance has the market on fast predictive typing pretty much cornered between Swype and T9) and Microsoft licensed it quietly.  Or maybe Microsoft developed this itself.  Much like Cortana, while the origin is a bit mysterious, the end result sounds promising.  
 
In fact The Guinness World Book of Records has certified WordFlow as the world's fastest keyboard -- faster than Swype.
 
V. New Looks
 
Windows Phone's Live Tiles (basically widgets) are admittedly a love it or hate it look.  With Windows Phone 8.1 Microsoft doesn't diverge from that look, but it does offer some interesting new additions to try to make it more appealing.
 
First it allows any Windows Phone 8 device to have 3 columns of pinnable tiles, versus the normal two.  In devices with lower resolution screens like the Lumia 630, that might not be the most desirable thing, but customers are free to try it out and see if it works for them.

Windows Phone triple row

Also Microsoft is adding the ability to set a picture as the background to your tiles, instead of just picking a color.  Tiles will sometimes revert to the flat look, but many icon details (in white) and notification animations will overlay, showing off your picture.

We're assuming this feature will work best with darker images (see above) given the white overlays.

Microsoft has also added new themes that freshen and allow customization of the home screen.  Here's one for example.

Windows Phone Lock Screen Themes

To switch up your theme you visit the new "Lock Screen Themes" app.  Previously third party apps offered custom quasi-lockscreens or images to customize your lockscreen with.  But they lacked the tight integration with Microsoft's notification icon imagery that Microsoft's new firsthand solution offers.

Again, darker images work better with the light overlays.  Hopefully Microsoft will add a feature in future versions that allows users the ability to customize the overlay with a different color or even a gradient, to allow more options with lighter images.

Here's an example of what I mean (my modification of Microsoft's example):

Windows Phone themes

... hopefully that will be added in future Windows Phone versions (Windows Phone 8.2 or 9, perhaps?)

V. Honed Core Apps

Nearly every core app in Windows Phone has been amped up or improved in some way.

The dialer gains tight integration with Skype.  

Windows Phone Skype call

Users can now upgrade standard phonecalls to Skype video calls at will.  This is basically Microsoft's answer to Facetime, but do consider that outside the mobile space Microsoft's acquired hand (Skype) has been at the video messaging business for longer than Apple has.

The Calendar app has been heavily overhauled.  Intuitively swipe left and right now allow panning/navigating between weeks and months.  Weather forecasts are included as small icons in each day's tile.  The overall look mirrors the refreshed Outlook 365.

Windows Phone 8.1

An orangle triangle on the top left corner indicates the current day.

One headache in Windows Phone 7 and 8 was an inability to accurately track device storage space usage on the go and to track (and limit) cellular data usage.  A trio of new apps -- Storage Sense, WiFi Sense, and Data Sense remedy that.  Wi Fi sense automatically enters and clicks through authentication pages.  We'll have to see how well that works in the wild, but expect it to eliminate that chore at common/widespread public Wi Fi offerings, such as Starbucks Corp. (SBUX).  

Windows Phone Sense

They're accompanied by Battery Saver, an app that allows things like screen brightness adjustment.  How aggressive the app is able to get in conserving battery remains to be seen.  But Microsoft's rivals -- such as HTC Corp. (TPE:2498) have shown the merits of this approach, and Microsoft should see benefits as well.

Battery Saver

The Music app has received deeper Xbox Music support.  You now have access to videos and can find podcasts via a Bing search.  And you get separate ringer/call volume and music volume sliders.

Windows Phone Xbox Music

The Store app also received upgrades to search and layout.

There's also retouched People and Photo Album Hubs, the latter of which is accompanied by a new Camera app.  The biggest changes in photos are the ability to plug in third party galleries like Facebook's photos, Flickr, or Google's Picasa.  When you take a series of pictures, they're now added to an auto-generated gallery.  The new Photo Album hub is smart enough to arrange separate outings as separate galleries; you can go back at any time and rename these albums and add pertinent details.

Windows Phone 8.1, People and Photos

The People app finally gets access to more third-party content, including larger photos posted by friends on services such as Facebook.

Last, but not least is Internet Explorer 11.  IE 11, you may recall debuted with Windows 8.1 last fall.  Now IE 11 has been upgraded to support flexible screen sizes and with improved touch support -- which is good news for both Windows Phone (newly supported) and tablets (previously supported, but now better supported).

IE 11 cross platform

Unsurprisingly Microsoft focused much of its IE 11 work to making HTML5 and WebGL run smoothly on the smartphone (or tablet).  Probably the biggest addition, though is the ability to sync or transfer tabs between your PC(s), tablet(s), and smartphone(s), allowing for seamless device switching.

VI. Business/Security/Developers

On the business and security front Microsoft is finally moving towards a serious solution.  Support for virtual proxy networks, a staple of the business world, is added, as is optional full-device encryption.

Storage Sense
You can now encrypt your phone's storage.

There's support for more kinds of email, including iCloud and S/MIME (secure, encrypted email).  In IE 11 there's a "legacy mode" of sorts that supports web apps and websites designed to run in aging browsers such as IE 6, IE 7, and IE 8.  The compatibility features are enabled when running Enterprise Mode, which also streamlines user management/website-blocking.

IE 11

And to wrap things up Microsoft has added a built in device management client which it says will play nicely with popular enterprise device management software.  The client features simplified device enrollment for enterprises, as well.

On the developer side of the equation Microsoft has announced "Universal Apps".  This feature is incorporated into Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 (just released).  The new development tools allow you to design new apps that work on both Windows Phone and Windows (PC)... or quickly port an existing app from one platform to another.  

Many features in Windows Phone 8.1 (e.g. notifications) have been brought into line with core parts of the Windows 8.1 PC GUI and its underlying XAML code and APIs/SDKs.  In that regard you can code one simple action that automatically is handled optimally on mulitple platforms without the headache of custom code.

This is a major step on Microsoft's path towards unified apps, a key goal of the company.  Microsoft is aiming to offer an increasing degree of unit between mobile, the traditional PC, and the Xbox.  If it can pull it off, it not only has the potential to increase developers reach and revenue, but its own as well.

Here's a video from one of Microsoft's BUILD talks, highlighting some of the changes for developers:



Developers get early access to Windows Phone 8.1 later this month.  The update will roll out to the public sometime in May, likely.

VII. Outlook

The big question is whether these updates make Microsoft-powered smartphones a superior option to the iPhone on the high end and to Android on the the high end, mid-range, and low-end.

One complicating factor is partner support.  Nokia Devices will soon be Microsoft owned and it is (of course) strongly supporting the Windows Phone platform.  Things appear to be moving along, though, in recruiting outside OEMs.  At BUILD this week Microsoft announced that Prestigio -- a Limassol, Cyprus based firm -- and Micromax in India.

Presitigio specialized in dual-SIM budget smartphones.  To date it's primarily used Android, but it may eye using Windows Phone as a way to differentiate some of its product.  Its phones are referred to as "MultiPhones".

Micromax Mobiles is India's second largest smartphone maker, shipping roughly 13 percent of the nation's handsets:
Micromax market share
Considering that it's also the tenth biggest phonemaker in the world, even modest adoption would be a big win to Microsoft.

Remember, there is cause for skepticism. Microsoft had announced nine partners at the 2014 Mobile World Congress and at least one of them -- China's Huawei Technologies Comp., Ltd. (SHE:002502) -- already appears to be backing out in belligerent fashion, insulting Microsoft by calling it a "low priority."  It's possible Huawei will change its tune now that Windows Phone -- like Android -- is free.  But maybe not.

Returning to Nokia the Lumia 930 is a nice device, and the Lumia 630/635 appear well featured and attractive at such a low budget price point.  But for most, neither device seems capable of convincing users to switch from Android (or iPhone) based on the merits of spec of price alone.  Microsoft needs some sort of boost on the hardware front.

Lumia 930

Overall, my feeling is that most will acknowledge that Microsoft's Windows Phone 8.1 has several killer features, the biggest of which is proably Cortana.  But the problem is that competitors seem to have as many killer features or more.

The biggest single factor still working against Microsoft is lack of third-party apps. Microsoft has tried a two-pronged approach to scaling this massive barrier, wooing developers while pushing out essential in-house apps.  The Sense Apps for example, go a long way to filling the void of what was "missing" in past releases.  But for those accustomed to Android or iOS sort of volume of fresh apps, the catalog may feel a little sparse.  There's not 200 new RPG games -- theres' a couple dozen -- for example.

This will eventually change (or so Microsoft hopes), but in the meantime the company needs something extra to convince customers to bite.  In other words, while Windows Phone 8.1 is a huge step forward, it's also not enough currently outside of budget devices.  But with the release of new devices that could quickly shift.

Monarch
Nokia Devices is rumored to be prepping a device called "Monarch", which not only packs the best camera on a smartphone, but also could be the first flagship phone with a 2K display.
[Image Source: Steve Burt on Flickr via CC]

Recall that Nokia's rumored "Goldfinger" and "Monarch" devices have yet to be announced (these devices were leaked by @evleaks, who has corrrectly verified nearly every other Nokia device to date early).

Phone Arena spotted benchmarks hinting that the Monarch is the Lumia 1820 (it might also be named the Lumia 1030) and will feature:
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 805
  • 3 GB RAM
  • 5.2-inch screen display with 2K resolution
And other rumor mills are suggesting there's a massive camera sensor derived from the Lumia 1020's 41 megapixel shooter is onboard.  If these rumors hold true, Nokia would enjoy at least a brief lead in terms of spec over its rivals' flagship devices.  If it can use some measure of common sense and add a microSD card to its super-shooter it will likely have the best phone on the market, hardware wise.

That's a lot of if's -- but assuming they're all true, there may be a compelling reason to switch to Windows Phone (or for us early adopters, to stick with it).

Sources: Windows Phone Blog, MSDN [1], [2]



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RE: Windows Phones
By KoolAidMan1 on 4/4/2014 9:26:47 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
Remember the fiasco when some developer posted something on Google+ about "The technical reasons why is Android still laggy".. How many iterations did it take to get to "Project Butter"? Now quad-core? And it's STILL laggy? Third-parties like Samsung, multi-billion dollar companies, they can't make a skin/ROM that doesn't introduce extra lag?


Its an architectural issue. Low app revenue and slower hardware aside, basic issues with Android prevent certain kinds of apps from being technically possible: http://www.androidannoyances.com/post/tag/low-late...

It isn't just UI. High quality music and video editing apps aren't really doable on it either. Even John Carmack talked about why he couldn't get a regular 60fps with games on Android on high end hardware while he easily could do so on iOS.

From other developers:
quote:
The CoreAudio team at Apple knows what they are doing and soon Google will be 3 or more years behind. It is entirely possible that the Android team just doesn’t understand this issue at all — this is sad — it doesn’t just effect the music production market, it has an adverse effect on the obviously larger gaming market as well.

...

as a pro music production company in hollywood, i just came back from the NAMM show and there were a hundreds of I-os apps shown and few for android. and every software designer says that the sdk and latency issue with android is holding them back from porting their apps.


WP doesn't have these issues either, mainly because their OS isn't held together by paper clips and scotch tape. All it needs is bigger marketshare for more high end apps. Hopefully it gets it because its actually a good platform.


RE: Windows Phones
By Reclaimer77 on 4/5/14, Rating: 0
RE: Windows Phones
By ritualm on 4/5/2014 4:11:20 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Music and video editing on a smartphone?

How about:

Music playback on my SGS4 is NOT smooth. I get distinct "skips" as if the song is not ripped properly. Except I never get these "skips" on Windows, Mac or iOS. There is only one conclusion to draw from that experience - Android just isn't good enough for music playback, period.

You can harp how wonderful Google's stuff is, how it's a gift handed to you by God himself. The ugly truth is it just isn't all that good.

If music playback on Android is this big of a mess, I shudder to imagine the high hell that is music production. Never mind, you're blind to anything that isn't coming straight outta Mountain View.

By the way - I'd rather hit "Not Worth Reading" against every single one of your posts, even if what you say have any sense in it, simply because you're a butthurt Google fanboy. You cannot form level-headed rebuttals to arguments you don't like, without including a pointed personal attack somewhere in the reply.

Drive off a cliff with your Google Maps-enabled Android device please.


RE: Windows Phones
By Reclaimer77 on 4/5/2014 10:26:28 AM , Rating: 1
Do you honestly believe your experience is average? My old ass Razr can play music without skipping, why doesn't your GS4?

quote:
You can harp how wonderful Google's stuff is, how it's a gift handed to you by God himself.


Oh please, I'm no Tony Swash. I don't do that and you know it.

quote:
By the way - I'd rather hit "Not Worth Reading" against every single one of your posts,


Yeah I've noticed. Do you see me caring?


RE: Windows Phones
By ritualm on 4/5/2014 2:06:14 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Oh please, I'm no Tony Swash. I don't do that and you know it.

Says the guy who gets super irritated whenever someone puts Google in a negative light.

Now you're trying to move goalposts and claim how you're right and everyone else's talking ojt of their ass.

You support Google with the same degree of fervor as Argon18 with Linux and Wazza1234 with Apple. You cannot take any dissenting arguments without, like twice-banned testerguy, treating it as a personal attack. Then you finish your rebuttals with "your opinion doesn't count"... as if you're somehow more knowledgeable than the rest of us.

You don't know when to cut your losses and shut up. Pathetic human refuse.

I'm going to switch my phone over to WP8.1 this year, just so I can destroy every derisive attack you'll ever throw at me and others. You stained your own bed. Now sleep in it.


RE: Windows Phones
By Reclaimer77 on 4/5/2014 8:38:36 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I'm going to switch my phone over to WP8.1 this year, just so I can destroy every derisive attack you'll ever throw at me and others.


LMAO Now who's pathetic?

You're going to buy a WIndows Phone because of some guy over the Internet...

What a loser!


RE: Windows Phones
By themaster08 on 4/6/2014 4:40:12 AM , Rating: 3
Regardless of his reasons, if he does buy a Windows Phone, he sure as hell won't regret it.

I just hope that the announcements made by Microsoft, and the changes in Windows Phone 8.1 are the beginning of a painful decline for Android. The only thing holding Windows Phone back now is the number of apps.

Perhaps Google can then stick to what it does best, and provide its services across all platforms. There's no denying that Google's services are exceptional. They're the only thing propping Android up. Without those services, the underlying OS is a complete turd.


RE: Windows Phones
By Just Tom on 4/6/2014 11:41:25 AM , Rating: 2
You have to admit buying a brand of phone simply to piss some guy on the internet off is pretty silly. And I am saying that as a very happy Windows Phone owner.


RE: Windows Phones
By Reclaimer77 on 4/7/2014 9:53:59 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
You have to admit buying a brand of phone simply to piss some guy on the internet off


And it wouldn't even do that. As long as people aren't patronizing Apple, I'm fine.

Now if he went and bought an iPhone, that might get the blood pressure going up a tick :P


RE: Windows Phones
By Reclaimer77 on 4/7/2014 3:21:11 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I just hope that the announcements made by Microsoft, and the changes in Windows Phone 8.1 are the beginning of a painful decline for Android. The only thing holding Windows Phone back now is the number of apps.


The only thing declining is Windows Phone. Which had a horrible holiday season, sales wise, and actually lost marketshare at the end of 2013. The platform is stagnating, withering on the vine, and you're talking about it killing Android? Ha! You should just be happy they're, finally, beating Blackberry.

This is a great update, true. But like all updates to Windows Phone, it's too little too late. YEARS too late.


RE: Windows Phones
By themaster08 on 4/7/2014 4:41:44 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The only thing declining is Windows Phone. Which had a horrible holiday season, sales wise, and actually lost marketshare at the end of 2013.
First of all, the US != the rest of the world, where Windows Phone is making some significant gains, especially in Europe, South Africa, and South America.

I don't know where you get your figures from, but Windows Phone market share grew 0.1% in the US over the last quarter. Whilst this gain is indeed negligible, it has not declined.

Furthermore, Windows Phone market share didn't move at all during the holiday period, so I'm pretty sure you've pulled that out of your ass:

http://techcrunch.com/2014/03/07/windows-phone-sur...

quote:
The platform is stagnating, withering on the vine, and you're talking about it killing Android?
The sign of a stagnant platform would be one in which there is no change. The changes we've seen during BUILD will have a significant impact on the platform. Although I will agree somewhat that the platform has moved very slowly during the past 18 months, however the platform is scheduled to have a faster update cycle.

I said nothing about it killing Android. I said decline. Windows Phone deserves to be a market leader, and competition from Google and Apple is finally starting to bring out the best in the platform. All of the signs are good. Now we'll see if this next year brings more significant gains.

quote:
But like all updates to Windows Phone, it's too little too late. YEARS too late.
Do you really think Microsoft are going to give up on what is the future of computing? It's far from being too late. We'll see how this next year pans out.


RE: Windows Phones
By Reclaimer77 on 4/7/2014 8:17:33 PM , Rating: 2
So Microsoft's home market doesn't matter? Okay..whatever.

And are you seriously going to stand your ground on 0.1% marketshare? Which is less than the margin of error!!

Okaaaay.

quote:
Windows Phone deserves to be a market leader


I agree. I would love nothing more than for Windows Phone to crush Apple from the market. Sadly, that doesn't appear to be a possibility.

quote:
I said nothing about it killing Android. I said decline.


Then why did you specifically target Android and not iOS?

I think it would be a sad day when the top two market leaders present the consumer with proprietary, closed source, walled off solutions. Android needs to remain a strong force to break the usual paradigm imo.

quote:
Do you really think Microsoft are going to give up on what is the future of computing?


Well they certainly haven't approached it with much zest! What have they been waiting for, exactly?


RE: Windows Phones
By themaster08 on 4/8/2014 2:09:33 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
So Microsoft's home market doesn't matter? Okay..whatever.
Again, please state where I wrote, or even implied that it didn't matter. The US market matters a lot, but it is very different to the rest of the world.

quote:
And are you seriously going to stand your ground on 0.1% marketshare? Which is less than the margin of error!!
No, what I'm standing ground on is facts, unlike you, who pulls figures out of his ass and expects others to believe him.

quote:
Then why did you specifically target Android and not iOS?
Because Android is the market leader, and by a huge margin. Android controls over 80% of the global market. It is also my opinion that Android is an inferior platform, and the only things that have been propping the platform up are its price, Google's services, and the amount of apps. The underlying OS is a mess.

quote:
I think it would be a sad day when the top two market leaders present the consumer with proprietary, closed source, walled off solutions.
Whilst AOSP is open source, Google's services are not. It's those proprietary services which make Android a dominant force.

Being open source allows for an all-round inferior experience. OEMs and cariers alike fill their phones with bloatware and laggy UI's, all of which is non-uninstallable. Yes, you can root your device and put a custom ROM on it, but seriously, it's a sad day when you have to that to your device to make it functional.

Furthermore, the open nature of the Play Store allows things like this to happen:

http://www.dailytech.com/Texas+17Year+Old+Scams+Th...

I'm sorry, but I fail to see how the OS being open source benefits the overall UX one bit. It benefits carriers, OEMs, and crapware/malware creators. Unless, of course, you are of the minority and spend more time modding and rooting your phone than you do actually enjoying it.


RE: Windows Phones
By KoolAidMan1 on 4/7/2014 3:19:25 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
You support Google with the same degree of fervor as Argon18 with Linux and Wazza1234 with Apple. You cannot take any dissenting arguments without, like twice-banned testerguy, treating it as a personal attack.


Him, Cheesewiz, motoman, and retro are just as bad in their refusal to accept any criticism at all with "their precious".


RE: Windows Phones
By Cheesew1z69 on 4/7/2014 3:11:44 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Him, Cheesewiz, motoman, and retro are just as bad in their refusal to accept any criticism at all with "their precious"
How ironic.


RE: Windows Phones
By LRonaldHubbs on 4/7/2014 11:42:32 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
There is only one conclusion to draw from that experience - Android just isn't good enough for music playback, period.

I would draw a different conclusion: YMMV.

I don't doubt that you and others have had trouble with audio playback on Android devices, but my experience is different. I have a Sony Xperia Pro, which at this point is quite dated. You can see the specs here:
http://www.gsmarena.com/sony_ericsson_xperia_pro-3...
I have no trouble at all with audio playback on this phone. The music I'm playing is ogg, mp3, or m4a, depending on where it originated. I frequently use the phone as an audio source in my car via stereo line in and it works just fine. I only wish my old version of Android had the media player shortcut on the lock screen so I wouldn't have to enter my password just to pause or change songs.

My girlfriend recently got a Sony Xperia M:
http://www.gsmarena.com/sony_xperia_m-5497.php
She too users her phone for music in the car and it also works perfectly.

Maybe Sony has done some extra work to enable this? My phone, as far as I can tell, has the stock Android music app, but my girlfriend's phone instead has a Walkman music app. I'm guessing that given their background in music players, Sony may have put a bit more effort into this than a company like Samsung would, especially since they're associating their Walkman brand with it.

In any case, I don't think your blanket statement about Android music playback is justified. I would say at minimum that it depends on the phone manufacturer and whatever tweaks they may or may not have made.


RE: Windows Phones
By flyingpants1 on 4/5/2014 11:43:25 AM , Rating: 2
It's not an "Android hate-fest". We both pointed out our specific grievances.

There's absolutely no reason to be an Android fanboy. There's nothing amazing about the OS itself. Android phones just had more features and better hardware than Apple phones.

It's a shame Microsoft took so long to catch up. They've had 4 years to mature the Windows Phone OS, an absolute eternity in the smartphone market, and it's just now getting good.


RE: Windows Phones
By atechfan on 4/6/2014 8:12:16 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Music and video editing on a smartphone?


There is the root of your problem. You seem completely unable to imagine that other people use devices for completely different purposes. Sure, watching porn and playing Candy Crush may be enough for you, but other people with lives want a phone that can do a lot more.

You have a sadly small imagination if you can't see how being able to edit audio and video on a phone would not be useful. Picture some guys out camping, and they brought their guitars, bongos, or whatever along with them. They start to jam and find they've come up with a great tune. One of their buddies pulls out his phone and starts to record them, then edits it into a nice video, complete with music track, which he then uploads to his music sharing platform of choice. All without leaving the campfire.


RE: Windows Phones
By KoolAidMan1 on 4/7/2014 3:51:21 AM , Rating: 5
These operating systems also run on tablets. I've cut video and audio on phone and tablets but everyone is different. Unlike you, I actually have a choice since iOS is a more capable platform with better software.

The important point you missed is that these latency issues are global. It doesn't just harm frame-critical applications like audio and video, that is just where it is very obvious. It affects games, user interface, literally everything.

Are you really this willing to defend a fundamentally defective operating system because it lets you install a custom theme and a giant clock?

As for John Carmack, he is one of the most unfiltered, least politically correct developers out there. If he has a problem with something then he will lay out the reasons with cold and brutal analysis. He's pissed off every major tech company at some point, Apple included and is most recently AMD.

As for his relevance, the most responsive shooters with the lowest latency are still based on his engines. His focus on high framerate and eliminating latency explains his problems with Android, and it explains his current focus on VR with Oculus Rift since that is a major problem to be overcome.

Saying he's a "homer" because he's said positive things about iOS says nothing about his technical expertise and everything about your extreme and irrational bias. Your anti-Apple/MS posts are hilarious, especially because Google does not provide a good product in comparison.

These are hard facts about technical limitations and disadvantages and you can't let your inner fanboy accept them.


"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller














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