Google TV and Windows Phone 7 – It’s the little things


Today I went for a quick look at the HTC Mozart with Windows Phone 7 at the local Telstra store, because while I’ve seen the specs and the layout, I wanted to get my hands on a device. I had the feeling that if I was to dump my beloved iPhone 3GS for anything other than an iPhone 4 it might be this one.

HTC really do make very nice hardware. Leaving aside the plethora of buttons on the front and the fact that when you press them the device vibrates for some unknown reason, It’s a smashing piece of kit. While I was checking it out, I had an interested onlooker. As we talked, he pulled out his NexusOne. I couldn’t but be surprised by the huge similarities between the two. The buttons are much nicer now, and the screen seems sharper and more responsive. But other than that it’s the same form factor and appears to havehardly changed in almost a year.

My friend couldn’t stop telling me about how dreadful the battery was on the NexusOne and we both hoped the Mozart was going to better. I have my concerns. Windows Phone 7 is a pretty involved UI. Lots of graphics and animations, which is bound to test the battery to the limits.

However, it was the little things which struck me about the operating system.

Pros

  • Snappiness. Aside for the iPhone 4 I haven’t used anything as responsive as this
  • The relative ease of configuring the layout to suit your most used items
  • How easy it was to find people and to make calls and send texts – it really is a “phone” or communciations device rather than a Mini Mobile Computer as I see the iPhone.
  • (there may be more, I only used it for 15 minutes)

Contras

  • The constant scrolling on the home screen – it could physically go on forever!
  • When you move those tiles around to a new location, they don’t just drop there and be done, you have to then press them again to say “Yep, this is a good spot”.
    Seems like a pointless thing to have to do when you consider the ease of moving them around in the first place
  • Office integration seems to me what happens when Desktop apps are migrated to Mobile without really thinking about the use case
    I’m sure people will see having these apps on board as a boon, but when you open Powerpoint while viewing in Portrait mode, it displays a “get started” presentation in landscape mode. Personally,  I expect to be either asked what to do, or just get a new powerpoint session and I hate apps which display contra to how you are viewing the device. Games on the iPhone are other examples of this.
  • In the find my mobile feature and a few other areas not only does the feedback dialogues look far too different from the “front end” UI, it has badly worded messages. I found myself cancelling out of windows rather than waiting for it to do it’s stuff.
  • Internet Explorer on the one hand does a good job of using the Screen real estate but I find it odd that Microsoft felt the need to pop up the address bar while loading the URL.
    Surely there is another way in this fancy new UI of displaying the fact a page is loading? Personally I hate URL’s and I think we are moving to a world where they become a background item rather than something which a user has to type in or even see.

And while overall Windows Phone on the HTC Mozart is nice experience, it’s the little things which get in the way. Because I can have EVERYTHING on one screen on my iPhone with iOS4, I can’t see myself moving to this device for this Operating System even if I needed a new Phone now.

Speaking of the little things, I also read Why Google TV will fail, in one sentence on technovia today. Now while there are no Google TV experiences in this market yet and all we’ve had to date is the super remote from Sony, sorry, the Google TV remote from Sony, I’m a firm believer that Television is moving to being about the individual programs rather than the channel mentality which still appears to be all pervasive. In short the sort of experience which Google TV seems to be promoting.

But Technovia, in their article, extracted the one key thing from a  first impression article about Google TV on searchengineland:

“A menu appeared asking me to enlarge a box on the screen to match my actual screen size.”

and made the observation:

User experience FTW

As I said about the Windows Phone above:

It’s the little things

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3 thoughts on “Google TV and Windows Phone 7 – It’s the little things

  1. You make some fair comments, and Windows Phone 7 is a bit of a departure from the way things have been done so far in Mobile UI land. I quite like the tile layout, if an app or shortcut is important I can move it to the home screen, if not, It’s sitting in the apps menu to the right of the home screen (much like the start menu in Windows desktop)

    Office integration, I’m still not sold on either, syncing documents is a pain on the desktop (though you can email them to yourself). Though one of the strong points is as I understand it, the phone will automatically sync documents to your windows skydrive when they are on your phone, which is an always on backup of your data etc, could be handy, but without cut and paste (which is coming soon, supposedly) you really aren’t able to do much more than view docs on the device.

    With Windows Phone 7, Microsoft is ‘in the game’ again, but I think their key target market isn’t existing users of android or iOS, but the 66% (based on telstra’s stats) of the population who are still buying feature phones.

    Anandtech do a great review of WP7 here: http://www.anandtech.com/show/3982/windows-phone-7-review

    • Hi Dave

      Good observations. Interesting that in a week in which Ray Ozzie leaves his role at Microsoft, the item which should do most to support his Azure Technology goes live. I need to look a bit closer at the Office integration, but I’d be surprised if it were simply a Skydrive integration, surely office live or whatever it is is called will be the backend to how Office is used on the Windows Phone 7 devices. Especially as they are struggling with only about 7 GB of available storage space.

      • I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw Microsoft throw some serious cloud integration into Office on WP7. Last week Microsot/Telstra announced Office 365 cloud service which will bring web versions of Office anywhere you have a browser (including the iPad/iPhone).

        If Microsoft know what they are doing and don’t screw it up with department politics and infighting bolting on a native app that links into the Office 365 cloud service would be a real winner.

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