Tag Archives: WP81

To Universal App or Not

30 Jun

Windows Phone 8.1 brings a host of improvements. Most notable and consumer facing among them are the Action Center, Cortana, improved start screen, all the Senses etc. But the feature that might end up being the most useful to the users without them even knowing is the introduction of Universal Apps, the compile once and run on all devices apps. Since its introduction, there have been a lot faster app additions to both Windows and Windows Phone store. Previously you’d have to wait for developer to do both separately, if ever; but now cool apps from Windows store appear on Windows Phone store simultaneously, and vice-versa.

So what’s not to like?

The problem with Universal Apps are a bit low level. Literally. While they make great sense for indie developers and even bigger publishers to take advantage of it to maximize their usage of resource allocation, Universal apps are all managed code apps, and will always be slower than their native cousins. Improvements to platform itself will keep bringing down the performance hit associated with managed code, but a gap will remain. So while these apps are very good, and even desirable in cases like TV apps and the likes, if an app requires maximum performance possible, developer probably should stick to native apps.

Especially if the developer is Microsoft itself.

It’s downright depressing to see a loading screen on a first party app. I don’t want to see a loading screen on my music app. Ever. Not a resuming screen either for that matter. I don’t want to see those screen on my podcast app, on my videos app. These are core functionality app, and people try them, a lot. If a platform loyalist like me is outraged by it, think how someone trying it in a store would feel! An iPhone or top end Android devices will be there to rescue from the terror that is loading screen. That cannot be too great for the already tiny Windows Phone market share.

So dear Microsoft, you have the resources. Please use it to kill those loading screens. Universal apps are great, and should help Windows Phone a lot in coming days. But don’t use it on places where it will bring more harm instead. There are places for it, first party pre-installed apps is not among them.

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Devil Is In The Details

22 Apr

There have already been plenty of reviews of Windows Phone 8.1. This is obviously not a review. Just a list of details, major or minor, only doable by someone who regularly uses the OS.

Good:

  • Keyboard now suggests/offers emoticons!
  • Updated boot animation is good.
  • Updated icon for outlook account and exchange.
  • Parallax implementation is good.
  • Does call grouping in call history.
  • Map nicely integrates POI from Foursquare. More important stuff appears first when zooming in.
  • More tiles across the device spectrum.
  • Manual checking of app  updates.

Bad:

  • Xbox music sucks. SLOW.
  • Slower performance.
  • Podcast app has no browsing.
  • Outlook account is still called Hotmail.
  • Office apps not updates one bit.
  • Still no contact picture in call history.
  • Setting still a mess. No icons.
  • Transit direction is not using the transports’ (either of bus and train) names to denote them (NYC), only the direction.
  • No need to give that pop-up when I check for app updates.

Neutral and Time Needed:

  • Cortana sports integration is woefully incomplete.
  • Worsened battery performance.
  • Worsened memory management. IE is unloading tabs too frequently.

I want to see:

  • Cortana to have batch operations. (Turn off all alarms, Move all alarm forward by 3 hours, )
  • More options for Action Center quick actions.

These all may seem pretty small time stuff to a lot of people, but a lot of these small stuff can get in the way of a great experience. So here’s hoping someone is paying attention somewhere.