What I miss about Windows Phone 7


So, as those of you who may follow me on Twitter, you might have gathered that I now have the HTC One S, a month or two earlier than I said I’d move on from the Trophy. So, I’ve now been using the One S with Android 4.0.3 and Sense 4 for nearly a week, and am certainly missing several WP7 elements.
When I moved on from WinMo to WP7, I was missing a lot. No multitasking, no IRC app that worked properly, hardly any customizability. However, I adapted. I learnt to live with the closed ecosystem and the pitiful amount of non-expandable storage. In fact, I must take a minute here to thank Microsoft for preparing me for the One S’s limited amount of storage space, which, when using the same syncing ethos as I used with the Trophy, has made me think that there is ample storage space.
So, after that slight diversion, what do I miss about Windows Phone 7, or, what do I find annoying about Android?

1) Awful smiley keyboard. Look, I use smileys a lot, and I much prefer, for example, colon P, rather than colon dash P. On the Trophy, straight from the alphabetical keyboard screen, I could tap a smiley button and instantly add any of two pages of very diverse smiley choices that pandered to anybody’s tastes.

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The first page of smileys on WP7. The button to the left of Space is there on the alphabetical keyboard to instantly get to smileys.

To type colon P on the One S with the Sense keyboard, I can do one of two things. 1, tap and hold the period key, then shift then P. Or 2, hit 12#, 1/2, 😛, ABC. Either way is long winded and rather stressful. Stressful in that typing a smiley should be a thoughtless task, a break from the mental exertion of typing and trying to get autocorrect to stay away from words it isn’t welcome to touch.

2) It isn’t friendly. WP7 was a very apologetic operating system, all the errors seemed sincere and as if they were to blame rather than the user. But that isn’t my main point here. When I got a text message, the Trophy would buzz and the screen would stay off. Then, when I took it out of my jacket’s top pocket, the screen would warmly turn on within a certain time frame and I could see the text. With the One S, as far as I have tried, it doesn’t do that. I liked that feature, it meant I could just lift the phone briefly out of my pocket, see the text, and let it drop back down into my pocket, without pressing a single button. Coincidentally, once again, WP7 providing a way of doing things with as little exertion as possible.

3) Live tiles. Now, I don’t miss this as much as some people may if they made the transition, but it was nice having tiles on the home screen automatically update. I had and have an unlimited data plan, so I am not at all bothered by the system fetching new data. The HTC people hub doesn’t seem to automatically update, which just adds.waiting time for the user.

There are other such minor things as the lack of a hardware shutter button, the space bar being far too keen to insert a . between words (the double tap space timing on iOS is perfect, the Sense one waits no time at all before inserting a period, and I’m a pretty fast typer). Also, the Sense app drawer is unbelievably unintuitive. I know I can order it by install date etc., but on iOS you customize the entire layout, and on WP7 you can jump to the letter in the alphabet. All in all, the shortcomings are bearable, though the lack of a fast smiley keyboard is infuriating. Congratulations Microsoft, in hindsight, you created a very friendly and usable OS. The dictionary may have got in the way all the time, but all in all, it was how a smartphone should be. Smart.

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Apple changes their site design – again


Once again, Apple has ‘modernised’ their site. However this time, it looks worse:

I liked the sliding bar to choose products. I also like the rounded grey buttons.  Now they seem to have adopted a cut-down dark look. Will this go down well with the ‘Apple is a dark/evil cult’ people? They will probably love the propaganda opportunities. Yes, this new interface is bare and does look quite nice, but it’s change. Is this a hint that Apple is going to move over to a completely bare-bones product line instead of complicated fancy products? One can only speculate…