Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 5th Sep 2012 23:41 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless If there's one thing I miss in the current smartphone industry, it's design. Honest to good, real design. We basically see one boring slab after another, void of any true identity, whether it's iPhone, Samsung, or any of the others. In this boring world of grey, black, and the occasional white, Nokia is the jester, coming up with its own unique designs and crazy colour selection. Today, the company unveiled the Lumia 920 and 820 to continue this trend.
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am I missing something?
by smkudelko on Sun 9th Sep 2012 21:36 UTC
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Let me start off by saying that I would like to see Windows Phone 8 and Nokia succeed. My father and sister have been loyal Nokia customers for years (although my sister did just get an iPhone 4S recently), and I like to see a healthy industry with options for consumers, room for plenty of developers, and a lot of platforms and devices for people like me to play around with.

I've used Motorola devices, the first 4 iPhones, the first Motorola Droid, a BlackBerry Curve, the god-awful original BlackBerry Storm, and the HP/Palm Veer 4G. My current phone is an HTC Evo Design 4G running Android 4.0. I like to switch my mobile device often so that I have working knowledge of all the current platforms since my clients depend on me being able to recommend the right products for their needs and also help them with any issues they have.

I had quite a few of the Windows CE powered "Pocket PC" handhelds back when PDAs were the thing. I absolutely hated them. I always felt like Microsoft tried way too hard to make those devices behave like desktop Windows and should have designed a UI from scratch that was made for mobile devices. When Windows Phone 7 came out I was pretty intrigued. For a long time I tried to find a pre-paid carrier that offered a Windows Phone device or an unlocked device that would work with a pre-paid carrier. I never did find one. I wanted to play around with Windows Phone 7.5 but didn't want to replace my primary mobile.

A few months ago I was at an AT&T store and played around with one of the Nokia devices and one from another manufacturer. I thought the UI looked good, but I didn't think it was very easy to use. (This is just my opinion --- I use a lot of different platforms and I'm not being biased or stupid.... it just wasn't intuitive to me). While I'm not at all excited about Windows 8 (and I am kind of hoping it fails and Microsoft gets some humility), I am looking forward to Windows 8.

However, I don't understand what people are so impressed with these new Nokia phones. Honestly, I don't see what makes them so different. I'm not calling them a copy-cat, and I'm not saying that Android or iOS devices are better looking or more unique..... a phone is a phone. But from what I can see, their devices have rounded edges and come in bright colors. Holy shit! What's so amazing about this?

Shouldn't the buzz be about something substantial? Is there major improvement to the hardware? Is Windows Phone 8 going to spank the other phones when it launches? (I don't really know... these are legitimate questions, not sarcasm.) I remember seeing a commercial for the first Lumia with WP7 that aired here in the US. This guy sat down next to this girl and the narrator was telling him to show her his phone so she would notice him. Apparently light blue phones with curved edges get the juices flowing! The narrator said "scroll through the live tiles, then turn the phone so she can see the curved edges." That was it. "This phone has live tiles and curved edges... revolution!." The guy didn't even do anything with his phone, he just scrolled up and down the home screen. At least Apple and Samsung commercials show people actually doing something on their devices, not just scrolling back and forth over tiles.

Why is everyone making such a big deal over bright colors and round edges? That seems so superficial and lame.

I also don't understand what makes live tiles so awesome. In fact, I don't see what makes Live Tiles necessary on a mobile phone at all. When I want information from an app, I just open the app. It doesn’t take long, and I get much more information than I would from a small tile. But I don’t do this on a phone, and I really don’t know anyone else who does either. If I need to see what’s on my agenda for the day, I just tap and open the calendar app. If I want to check my inbox, I either open the e-mail app or slide open the notification area on iOS or Android.

When I’m on my mobile device, I’m in a different frame of mind. I am focusing on one thing at a time. There just isn’t any significant gain in productivity in going back to the Home or Start screen and staring at a small “live tile” instead of going to the Home screen and tapping to launch the app I’m interested in.

If Microsoft would have allowed Metro apps to run in the Desktop mode in Windows 8 (or even if they allowed you to dock a few live tiles to the side of the screen in Desktop mode, replacing the functionality of “Windows Gadgets” from Windows Vista and 7), I could see Live Tiles being somewhat useful. If I’m working on something and I want to quickly see if I have any messages in my inbox, or what the current temperature is outside, I could just glance over at the side of the screen and get back to work.

Instead of having to download and install specialized gadgets (which no one apparently cared to do since there were almost no useful gadgets for Vista or 7), by allowing a Metro app’s Tile to be docked to a sidebar, you could turn any Windows 8 app into a gadget. You could dock specific apps to the sidebar instead of pinning them to the Start menu and the Desktop mode and Metro mode would be better integrated. Add a tiny button to the Sidebar that throws you back to the Metro Start screen and it would be a better experience for a lot of users and allow every user to benefit from Metro, even the ones who are going to spend their entire time in Desktop mode working with non-Metro apps.

I'm really not trying to start an argument or say that Windows Phone sucks. I'd very much like to see it succeed, and even more I'd like to have some reasons as to what makes it great other than "it doesn't look anything like Android or iOS, and the home screen is made up of big squares, and if you use it on a Nokia phone you can pick up girls by showing her the super fucking amazing rounded edges on your bright red mobile."

To be honest, I think Microsoft should give up on competing with Android and iOS and instead use their partnership with Nokia to create what the Kin should have been. Go after the feature phone market with a smartphone OS. Microsoft can afford to subsidize the devices (so the carriers don't have to) and make up for it with Zune Pass, Xbox Live subscriptions, and royalties from app developers. Nokia can build their dumb phones off of a Windows CE core (which is a RTOS underneath and pretty reliable when it's stripped down) and make it easy to scale up their product line from your first dumb phone, to your feature phone, to your smart phone.

Regardless of what Nokia or Microsoft does, I would like to see both of them succeed (in the mobile space, at least). I just think that supporters of Windows Phone bash iPhone users for being sheep who blindly buy the next product, and then they rave about the color red and round edges. I hope there is more to be impressed by from WP8 and the new Lumias.

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