Window Phone 8: Why it Deserves 1st Place*

*Why it deserves first place for me.

Something I think we often loose sight of in the land of tech forums such as this one, is that what makes something great isn't necessarily specs, or even a list of features you can tout over the heads of others, but the overall experience that combination of software and hardware gives you. This has long been the philosophy of iOS, and is one I'm inclined to agree with. Now, what particular software and hardware is "best" is different for everyone. That is why this market is so broad. In the world of smartphones we have screens of every size, gimmicks of every kind, and software of every flavor.

About two week ago, I made a post entitled, "Windows Phone 8: Why it Deserves 3rd Place", and here I am today ready to admit to my mistakes and right my wrongs. You see, market share is really something only companies and investors should worry about, but it has been an essential way of measuring E-dicks in the land of "my phone is better than yours". In the end, who really cares if your phone has the highest market share? Who cares if it is best selling, or near unheard of? What do you really care about? I'd say that you care about the fact that you researched that phone for possibly a month or more, thought hard on your decision and bought it. Why? Because it has the OS with the most market share? No, because it is the phone that fits YOU best, and that is honestly the only person that matters in that equation.

Now to explain why Windows Phone 8 is best for me, let me show you the every day things that I most often delegate to my phone.

  • Communication and Social networking
  • Music
  • Video
  • Photography
  • Web browsing
  • Day planner

Communication

Let us first think about the name of the devices I'm talking about. These are called "smartphones", phones are communication devices and communication is one of the key factors of any phone. However, to call a smartphone a "phone" kind of belittles it, let's be honest, they're pocket computers, but communication is still in their DNA and soul. Communication isn't simply phone calls anymore. We communicate through text, through email, through video messaging and conference calling, through social networking and voice messages. The world is no longer simply "connected" it is tied together through a multitude of ways for one to get a point across to someone who might be half way across the globe from you. Something that has become essential to the way I live is social networking, and Facebook in particular is a tool that I use probably far too often. One of the extremely useful features of WP8 is its social networking integration. I can send someone a text or Facebook message from the same place without having to leave the app, and both threads are connected together. I can go into the People app which is one of the most impressively robust contacts apps that I have seen, and I can select any person and I immediately have a list of any and every way I could possibly communicate with them via such a device, I can see their latest tweets, their latest post, I can see their albums and latest photos, I can see our latest conversations and even set a course to meet them. These features have become the way that I am used to using a smartphone, and I see these things as near invaluable.

Music

Ever since the first iPhone, one of the most revolutionary devices of the modern computing age, music is something we've always had in our pockets through our phones. Go take a walk through a mall or some busy streets, I'm sure it won't take long for you to spot someone who has their earbuds in and the world blocked out. Music is something dear to most of us, and something that speaks to our souls, but I'm not here to discuss music theory or philosophy. I have used music streaming services of all kinds, from Pandora to Songza, Rdio and everything in between, but my favorite music service has become Nokia Mix Radio. I love the UI, I love the fact that it actually seems to play music from the artists that I select, it has a vast library of music, can play music offline, which is great considering that I only have a GB of data per month. It shows me upcoming tours, albums, the latest tweets form bands such as Tokyo Police Club and Daft Punk, and the "Play me" feature always seems to know what to play. I also really love the subscription model of Xbox Music. Beyond music syncing on all of my devices, it is nice that all I have to do is pay my ten bucks and for the rest of the month I don't have to worry about what songs or how many of them I download. If I hear a song I like, I hit the search key, use the song identification feature that is integrated into bing and hit the download button when it pops onto the screen. It doesn't get much simpler.

Video

The internet has changed the way we watch things, TV is no longer the king of video, YouTube is the new Funniest Home Videos and MTV/ VH1. Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime are the new cable, and my guess is that you all use at least two of the services I listed in this paragraph. Video is somewhat of an even playing field for mobile OSs, I'd be satisfied on any platform for these needs, so long as they have Crunchyroll, Hulu, and YouTube, and some way to access my digital collection of Japanese animations (hush, don't judge me), I'll be happy as a clam. WP has these things for me, and the experience is great, Metrotube is beautiful, Crunchyroll works great, and I still have to pay for Hulu Plus (unfortunately). Although one thing I really appreciate about Xbox Video is the fact that not only can I watch my movies and shows on my tablet, phone, laptop etc., but my TV as well through my Xbox. I can watch Akira on five screens at once if I want to.

Photography

Smartphones have long since proven the famous quote and ideal of "the best camera is the one you have on you". I've always loved photography and it is a hobby that runs in my family. Now, WP is great for photography mostly because of the beautiful OEM, Nokia. Nokia has set a new standard for smartphone camera hardware and software. The quality of photos that I take with my phone never ceases to amaze me. I love the Nokia Pro Cam app and all their other software. However one thing that can be attributed to Microsoft is the amazing lens feature, which keeps all your photography apps only a click of a button away.

Web Browsing

The internet, one of the most important resources we have at our disposal. We have the largest information hub in our hands at all times. If you want to learn about the history of canned foods, Wikipedia has you more than covered. If you want to see how something did in the box office, just go to the internet. As a student, I often wonder how those who came before me ever got their work done, most likely with less distraction I'd imagine. This is honestly the one area where I feel very underwhelmed. Since I don't feel like explaining again, I'll just copy and paste what I said in my last post.

I don't know if this counts as a phone feature, but favorite syncing in IE. I love IE on my Surface, but I'm rather disgruntle over using it on my phone. It doesn't sync with my tablet like other browsers, it opens up on a blank page while most browsers will at the very least open up to a list of favorites. IE doesn't play podcasts in the background either, and I find myself being held hostage whenever I want to listen to a podcast without downloading it, completely unable to use my phone while listening to the latest episode of the AWO. Don't even get me started on the fact that it allows only six tabs and doesn't open up links in new tabs when on Facebook, the Verge app, etc. It is extremely basic, but it is still the best browser available on the platform, and even if it wasn't, it will always be your default browser.

Day Planner

Before the birth of the modern day smart phone, many business pros and cubicle warriors had personal organizers, I'm sure you remember them, I used to think they were the coolest things when I was younger, I even tried to save up for one once when I was five, but bought a Gameboy instead. Needless to say, the smartphone has brought the personal organizer to the masses in the form of notifications, alarms, calendars and note taking apps. As someone in the Microsoft ecosystem, I find the OneNote app invaluable, and the fact that I can see my upcoming events from my calendar without having to enter the app itself is great, and all I have do to see the weather is look a little below it or stick my hand out a window.

These are the things that make up my use case, the things I need to do on my daily driver. The majority of the things, for me, are best done on a Windows Phone. These are some of the things that make up the best experience for me, myself and I. It is why Windows Phone is first place for me, but it may be last place for you, and I can completely respect that.

If you get anything out of reading this, let it be that there really are different strokes for different folks, and that showing your phones specs to me or anyone else, doesn't really make us envy you or your phone. It is the experience, not the market share that makes us love our phones, just ask any Moto X owner. Anyway, I made my mistakes with my original post, and a mistake made is a lesson learned. Consider me a slightly more enlightened person than I was half a month ago.