- Ease of use No comments
- Speed No comments
- Configurability No comments
- Ecosystem (apps, drivers, etc.) No comments
- Openness No comments
It's still Windows Phone. Superflat and swooshy and quick and overly designed and well, very nice. Just more well-rounded. Like, you can finally have one inbox for multiple accounts and email threads are organized like real threads, the way you'd expect from a modern email client. And you can multitask—to the extent that apps have been rewritten to take advantage of it. (But making the back button the "multitasking" button—you press and hold—was dumb, since 20 percent of the time, it wouldn't switch to the app switching screen, it'd shoot me backward.)
What's different from iOS and Android, and more so in 7.5 (ugh that name), is that Windows Phone is sort of anti-app. Yes, it seems kind of silly that a phone in 2011 wouldn't have Facebook and Twitter fully and thoroughly integrated, since social networking is about as integral to the modern phone experience as it gets, but it's a step beyond that. Why use Yelp? There's Local Scout. Or Fandango or Shazam or another visual search app? There's Bing, which more or less replaces all of those (though Bing will point you to an app, if it thinks it's helpful.) Facebook messaging? Built-in too. Microsoft has more or less succeeded in replacing apps for the core things you do with a phone, like looking at Facebook or Twitter streams or friends' pictures, bringing them all together in the ooey, gooey center of Windows Phone. The odd side effect is that when you have to use an app to do something social-like to view a Twitter conversation, or check in to Foursquare—it feels like the phone's let you down, particularly since the speed of third-party apps on Windows Phone still lags so far behind the native bits.
The big thing that strikes you while you're using it, though? It doesn't feel like anything's really missing, like before.
The Windows Phone interface still feels fresh and new and different and fast, and I'm kind of amazed I'm not tired of it after a year. It still feels like a preview something that's coming next, not that's already here. Perhaps because it's missing the feeling of simple inevitability, like iOS.
Live Tiles, which are starting to live up to their promise. I know at a glance if someone's mentioned me on Twitter with the new Me tile, but it's not in my face, demanding immediate attention like it would on iOS. Which, the true Twitter integration is pretty excellent if occasionally half-baked-seeming, particularly since you can actually filter streams and contacts by social network now in the People hub.
The People Hub with Groups, and messaging. While I wish messaging had more options for getting a hold of people—it's just got Facebook, Live Messenger and SMS—it manages to pull off integrated messaging in way that feels more complete and natural than iOS5, whose iMessaging feels like glorified text messages, particularly in the context of the People Hub. I go into the Gizmodo Group, where everybody's tile is grouped together, each person's tile flipping over to show me how many emails/messages I have from them. I can drill down and see my entire communication history with Woody, over email or SMS or Facebook. Or I can just see the stream of Facebook/Twitter/pictures from the entire group. It works the best of any phone's social stuff because it's altogether, not simply siloed.
Oh, and the voice-to-text feature is awesome and reasonably accurate, around 80 percent or so. I could tell the phone, "Text Kyle Wagner," dictate to it "Shut up, Wagner," tell it "send," and seconds later Wagner would know he should shut up.
The thing I like most about Windows Phone, really, is that it's the only phone besides the iPhone that feels like it's got its shit together, from the interface to the core apps to the overall experience.
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