Thoughts on WP7 and HP Web OS
My phone is important to me, its an invaluable work tool when out of the office for tracking email, meetings and requests, it does all my personal stuff as well like Facebook, Email and day to day calls and texts; Its important for me therefore to have a phone that can be an invaluable tool to balance my hectic work life balance.
I made a switch back in September and left my reliable iphone 3g which had organised the chaos of my life for such a long time and started using two devices for the latter half of the year… these were my thoughts..
Palm Pre (WebOS 1.4)
I got issued with a Work Palm Pre UMTS with 8gb of storage, i hadn’t really heard of WebOS until a few months back around HP’s acquisition of Palm; So i went into using the phone without knowing much about the device itself.
For starters WebOS is the proprietary operating system for Palm Pre devices, meaning that the devices will only ever run WebOS and WebOS will not run on other devices. People have been telling me for a while that this is the next greatest thing that WebOS will bring the cloud to the consumer…
From my point of view i understand cloud and SaaS, PaaS etc very well and i understand the architecture even better.
It does however allude me how WebOS would be better than say Windows Phone 7, Windows Mobile, Apple iOS or RIM’s propriety OS on their blackberries.
There are some genuinely good things i do like about the Pre, the two biggest would be the Idea of a Card Deck for App Multitasking and gestures…
It seems to just nail both of these perfectly, it was a bit confusing at first as to how it all worked but once i got the hang of it then it was just a natural reaction when i wanted to close or switch apps.
Unified Contacts, i think this is a pretty sweet idea the concept behind it is that you can go into your contact list and if you have integrated your gmail you will see if some of your friends are online; It give’s a nice unified interface in which to communicate with your contacts, rather than a modular approach by iOS.
The bad parts i think about the OS and device itself are the build quality and a lack of immersion;
Build Quality – At times i found myself unable to open the keyboard with one hand, resorting to two which just about opens the device, the surface leaves for a difficult grip if your anyway perspiring or have greasy palms, this was by far the most off putting thing for me; The Keyboard was difficult to type with sometimes due to the key spacing, overall the device felt cheap and not as rigid as other phones i have had, i would consider my HTC TYTN II to be more rigid than the Pre.
Immersion – I found alot of the time i wanted to do something on the device but couldn’t quiet figure out how to do it, copying and pasting was completely un natural for me i just couldn’t work out the key combinations; It ended up i just painfully selected text i wanted then used the top left menu to copy. Alot of the other time i struggled to find where to configure options like say an APN for my Mobile operator so i can get data on the phone.
Lack of Quality Software – On the desktop i found i was pretty much on my own and ended up using Windows Media Player to sort out my music.
Annoying Palm Signup Process – The signup process is retarded, i found myself scrabbling on forums for a long time so i could find my Mobile providers APN details so i could signup to the palm service so i could use my device, i think palm has something to learn here; Android and Windows Phone users aren’t forced to signup to Windows Live or Create a google account, you can use the device without one.
Battery Life – I averaged about 8 hours with no talk time and about 4 with talk time, i found myself constantly having it on charge in the car or in the office.
For a Mobile OS that isnt really a big player, you can expect a lack of quality applications; The big players like Facebook, Foursquare and LinkedIn are there, but decent apps to do your finances or RSS readers just dont exist.
Overall, i was disappointed, i expected more out of the device than what i got. My phone is important to me for so many things, but i just found myself constantly worrying about if ill have enough battery to ring someone or how many emails can i do before its flat. The feel really disappointed me, it seems like everyone these days can build a great device; Coming from an HTC and Apple background it just felt like i had gotten the Lada of mobile hardware.
If i had the option to buy this phone, i wouldn’t and its truly put me off WebOS and Palm Products.
HTC HD7 (Windows Phone 7 Build 7004)
After the palm, i waited eagerly for the launch of the HTC HD7 here in Ireland with Windows Phone 7, it was released here in Ireland sometime between the end of October and start of November.
Windows Phone 7 replaced Windows Mobile 6.5 as the latest Windows based operating system on smart phones, its not proprietary (i.e not stuck to one device) and multiple manufactures are releasing Windows Phone 7 based devices.
I knew alot about Windows Phone 7 before i got my HTC HD7, but i had high expectations due to the fact im someone who likes Microsoft Products and Windows Devices in General.
The most surprising thing about WP7 is its responsiveness; Windows based devices have always been mocked for years about their responsiveness (or lack there of) but im glad to see that in Windows Phone 7, its alarmingly responsive.
I felt alot more immersed with Windows Phone than i did with WebOS, Microsoft have used visual que’s and aids to the maximum, its also reassuring that if i need to change some settings that the option is always at the bottom of the screen.
Unified contacts (People) – i liked this alot, i was fearful about how it was going to work, i sync’d my facebook, Windows live and exchange contacts to the phone and automatically the OS recognised people correctly and assigned them to the correct contact information, this means that anytime my friends change their profile photo on Windows Live or facebook, its automatically tracked to my phone.
Me Hub – this is a great idea i was always sick of updating my status on multiple applications to basically just say the same thing, but by going into the me hub i can update my status on all the social networking sites im on in one tap!
Sync’d Photo Albums – this was a surprised i found that after i connected my Windows Live account and my Facebook account, the phone automatically downloaded my facebook and Windows Live albums to the phone; This is very hand if you want to show someone a photo you’ve taken that’s not on your phone, it means you don’t have to sign into the facebook app an wait ages for it to stream over the Cellular network!
Email and text messaging are simple but effective, i enjoy writing emails more on this device for some reason!
Zune - would of liked the Zune app to do more, i find it cumbersome and i never know if the application if selected to install has installed, or if its still downloading etc… I was really disappointed to see that the app doesn’t backup anything on the phone outside of videos, music and pictures.. Even at that, if you reset your phone you’ll have to manually sync all these again, this is where apple and itunes defiantly has an advantage.
Carrier unlock – My phone is carrier unlocked legitimately, but unfortunately i still have to use all the O2 branding on my device, this is because the devices are configured at a bios level to be identified to certain carriers, its disappointing but im sure the folks over at xda-developers.com will fix this for me in time!
Lack of Quality Apps – The store itself is fine but the amount of apps is not great, im disappointed that there’s no proper linkedin or skype app yet, the quality of apps outside of the main vendors is poor and is generally targeted to a US Based consumer group. Its something that will take some to resolve itself.
Overall i was extremely happy with buying a HTC HD7 with Windows Phone 7, it fulfils everything i need to do day in day out, its a great phone for work and socialising with friends, i would highly recommend it to anyone who was in the market for a new phone. Its encouraging to see how much the Mobile OS has grown up, i can only see bigger and better things happening with it!