This Windows (Phone) Is Sorta Broken—By Its Apps

I tried out a Microsoft Lumia 830, which came out last year, with a FitBit Flex activity tracker.

It’s a mixed bag. I like the Flex, though not as much as the Jawbone UP24 I had last year. The Jawbone was easier to get on and off, and it was simpler to integrate it with our activity tracking software (like Runkeeper and Map My Fitness). It had a really good app. The Jawbone also lasted 2 weeks on a charge; the Fitbit barely makes it 3 days.

The larger disappointment is the Windows Phone. I actually like the Windows Phone OS. I think I could learn to use it as readily as I do my iPhone. The big screen (5 inches) was bright enough, and I’m not bothered by the plastic-ness—heck, I wrapped the plastic in a rubber case to make it easier to handle.

No, the problems were:

  • The camera is very pedestrian, which is a problem when the iPhones and Galaxys all sport darn-near-amazing ones.
  • The apps are not even second rate. This weekend I attended a concert then traveled for a family function, so I put on the apps I would normally use to keep me functioning and in the know: Waze, Fitbit, Twitter, Facebook, ESPN, Instagram, Spotify, Ruzzle, Evernote, Audible. Three of them—Waze, Instagram, ESPN—had serious bugs. Waze required me to leave the app and return after setting a destination to remove a constant “calculating route” message that covered the functioning directions. ESPN and Instagram could not access scores and photos, respectively. Ruzzle worked, sorta, but was missing the popular 1-minute tournament mode and often didn’t display prompts to play a next round or start a new game.

I pulled my SIM chip this morning and put it back in my iPhone. I just can’t handicap myself that badly by using a platform where 3 of the primary apps I needed were essentially unusable. I was willing to entertain an app environment that’s limited but usable; I wasn’t counting on limited and often non-functional.

Maybe the new Lumias are better. Hope springs eternal. I like how Microsoft is bringing phones and PCs together in different ways than Apple. But the environment needs to mature in a hurry. Or maybe, it’s on to the Surface Phone.

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