James Rosewell writes:
The last time I used a Microsoft based mobile phone was 2008 in the form of the HTC Hermes. Since then Apple and Android have dominated my mobile life. It was therefore with more than a little trepidation that I switched over to Windows Phone 7.5 in the form of the Lumia 800 in July this year. Since then I’m continually being asked what I think of the phone and the operating system. Here are my experiences and thoughts.
iOS and Android like the customer to have an iTunes or Google account to ease setup and enable integration features. Windows Phone is no different asking for a Windows Live ID. I was surprised how much information I had already linked to my existing Live ID which was sucked into the phone seamlessly.
My main email accounts are separate to Windows Live. Once entered, synchronising started and importantly my Exchange calendar appeared alongside the latest emails without any further effort.
LinkedIn and Twitter all followed easily. 5 minutes later an animated grid of faces appeared in the top right hand corner of the home screen. If someone updates their photo or some other personal details they choose to share with me, it’ll automatically update on the phone and - in the case of photos - that animated grid. I assume the same would happen for Facebook but I’m not an active user so didn’t try this.
The home screen consists of tiles, many animated, to access the core areas of functionality. Swiping right displays the full list of smaller icons as a long list. Whilst the home screen is easy to use and customise, the layout doesn’t deal very well with a large number of icons. The home screen would become too cluttered and hard to use if too many tiles were placed there. The full list too long to scroll through comfortably. I can’t help feeling the metaphor of folders containing other icons and tiles will help the power users with many applications and icons. Alternatively swiping left to display more "home pages" similar to iOS and Android.
Many application screens are wider than the physical screen and contain two or more panes of information. Each pane of information is slightly narrower than the physical screen offering a teasing view of the next tab. Many screens such as the pictures or music main screen will have a wider image as the background, providing a subtle clue there is more to the right or left to explore. Therefore, without even thinking, the full set of available options become easy to locate and explore.
The always-present back, home and search icons are positioned outside the main screen just like many Android devices. Applications display a black menu bar at the bottom of the screen with specific icons. Three little dots are used to indicate additional less common choices are available. When selected, a long form menu of options fills the screen.