24 Hours with Windows Phone 8

I purchased a Windows Phone 8 device yesterday, specifically the Nokia Lumia 820 from AT&T. My first Microsoft purchase is several years. I previously had a no-feature pay-as-you-go phone, and before that the iPhone 4S.

Here are some first impressions after a full day of use.

Everything on the phone is good, but not great (with a couple exceptions).

The user interface is what differentiated the phone. You either love it or hate it. I have long been a fan of the MetroUI, but never used it regularly. I think it has come a long way since first being introduced. There are a lot of refinements to WP8 compared to WP7. Smooth scrolling and animation, consistent interface. WP8 is software ready for the consumer.

Live tiles are interesting, with a lot of potential. I am looking forward to developers taking advantage of them. Live tiles allow apps to show data on your home screen, on what would be the app button. It removes the necessity of opening the app to get quick information. This is amazing coming from iOS, where no information if given until you go into the apps. Some apps it seemed I would open 15 times a day just to check little updates on my iPhone.

Podcast support was a pleasant surprise. You go into your music program, subscribe to the podcasts you want, and the phone will automatically download the most recent episodes. I think this is great. I listen to a lot of podcasts. In the past I had to download them to my computer and sync to my iPod through iTunes. Anything that gets me away from iTunes and plugging my phone into a computer is a good thing.

There has to be a downside, the built in calendar is terrible. The interface is unintuitive and takes a lot of getting used to. I didn’t recognize my own calendar when I first pulled it up. The calendar feels like an after thought compared to the rest of the phone. It shows with Microsoft’s cloud offerings. Mail, Contacts, and SkyDrive all have the MetroUI, but the calendar is left with good ol’ Hotmail interface. It’s an area Microsoft really needs to pick up the slack. For any reasonably productive person, a calendar is an often used tool.

Side note, because my old calendar was on iCloud, it will not sync with my Windows Phone. A fault of Apple not allowing access to iCloud. It was an annoyance though.

Overall, Microsoft has put out a mobile OS that is exactly what is should be right now. Unique and stable. A platform that can hold up with iOS and Android as the third option. They have covered their basics. They just need some special apps and the community to move them forward.

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