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Ultimately it came down to this. It’s 70% a great phone 30% unforgivably bad. And that 30% relates directly to my productivity and ability to listen to music. I won’t compromise on either.

Nerdology - Two weeks with the Lumia 1020

Creighton, a Producer at College Humor, has used iOS since 2007 and was itching for a change of scenery. His post is much more detailed, but he nails a sentiment I’ve felt from using the Lumia 920 I bought for testing. There’s a lot of really good stuff in Windows Phone, but the stuff that’s bad isn’t just “bad,” it’s deal-breaker terrible.

Of course, Microsoft is a massive company and there’s always room for improvement. But it’s taking its sweet time trying to improve these problems.

Switching is in the air

TechHive is running some good mobile switcher articles. On Saturday, Lex Friedman wrote about the first week of a month-long experiment with Windows Phone. Today, Andy Ihnatko—longtime accused Apple fanboy—began a three-part “epic” describing his journey from iOS to Android.

Both are smart, reasonable people and big Apple fans who are looking at other platforms for various reasons. Lex found a lot to like in Windows Phone in just the first week, while Ihnatko has become fed up with Apple’s seemingly slowing pace of innovation in specific areas and personally switched entirely.

To be honest, I’ve felt the itch too. I bought a used Lumia 920 (the same phone Lex is using for a month) a few weeks ago, sans the wireless service, which I plan to write about soon. I’ll even admit Android is actually, and finally, starting to look better.

John Gruber nailed a sentiment the other day that I’ve been trying to articulate:

Indeed, the Chromebook Pixel seems like another bit of evidence that Google is getting better at what Apple does best faster than Apple is getting better at what Google does best.

Apple has had some good ideas lately, but then seems to stop short of fleshing them out, or it introduced them but didn’t follow through. Take a look at iOS 6, which brought:

  • a new Maps app
  • Siri improvements
  • Facebook integration
  • Passbook
  • Photo Stream

In other words:

  • a replacement for Google Maps that was poorly cobbled together from mapping acquisitions and third-party services which, at best, works ok
  • mild improvements to a technology Apple bought from a third party
  • the world’s most popular social network with over a billion users, embraced by competitors long ago
  • a genuinely good idea with poor marketing and what seems to be like-pulling-teeth industry support
  • a genuinely good idea for a very specific use case that quickly felt hobbled, not enhanced, by Apple’s obsession with simplicity

Meanwhile, Android and Windows Phone are getting more polished by the week, gaining great new or better existing features like Google Now, those awesome app-friendly share menus (no python/scripting/nerdery required), notifications that work, Android Beam, wireless charging, and on and on.

I’m starting to feel as curious as Lex and Andy. For me, the reasons for staying on iOS are slowly looking less like great software and innovation, and more like lock-in, catching up, and shackled stagnation.

I picked up a used Lumia 920 Windows Phone 8, erm, phone to review. I’ve liked the don’t-call-it Metro experience all the way back when it first debuted on the Zune and I reviewed the Zune Marketplace for Ars Technica. I’m happy to see it live on, it really is a great mobile experience.

But I have to call out this crufty holdover from Windows (and who can forget the “please insert your Windows installation disc" bit). Are there seriously engineers and managers at Microsoft who tested this first-run setup process and said "yeah, ship that"?

"Welcome to your new Windows Phone! Here are a couple setup buttons to tap." [so far so good]

"Now, hang on a sec, we’re installing apps….." [Uh]

"…… still installing, thanks for your patience……" [I don’t even]

"Ok! your apps are done installing. Go rock on with Windows!" [This should’ve been done before I pressed the power button]

Do they really think the vast majority of users give half a crap about seeing that? Here, Microsoft, have some free R&D on what people care about: pressing a button to turn something on, and then it goes.