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Windows Phone apps slow? Not really!

I have heard a good deal of complains about the speed of Windows Phone applications. Not surprisingly, top of the list is the treasured Facebook app. I am going to really challenge your perception of slow with this one, so take a walk with me.

To understand where Windows Phone is coming from, you must first understand the ideology behind its Panoramic UI. Microsoft made some huge design decisions; they opted to go with a horizontal slate as opposed to the endless vertical scroll seen elsewhere. This is not the easiest thing in the world to explain, but amazingly, it’s second nature to understand. The minute you play with the UI, the left to right gestures become apparent and somewhat familiar all at once.

The way the panoramic UI displays information has now become my preferred method of choice. But it comes with a downfall; and I use the word downfall loosely until further explained. Enter the Facebook app. Let’s compare the Facebook experience on both the iPhone and WP7.

The iPhone’s app displays a grid of icons which represent the subset of features offered by Facebook. So if you want to see your news feed, obviously you click the news feed icon. Simple enough and it works well.

iphone facebook

WP7’s app approaches this in an entirely different way. The panoramic UI is present and in full force here. The first screen you’re presented is pretty much the same thing seen on the iPhone app; the same list of features offered. Except, you have the ability to simply scroll over to the next screen, and from there, right into the next.

Surely by know you get it, the UI differences are clear; but what does that have to do with performance of the apps? How and why does WP7’s Facebook app take in excess of 10 seconds to load? Simple! WP7’s Facebook app and its panoramic UI display all your information at once. From the time the app is first launched, it begins to load all the information for each category. Your news feed, photos, events and notifications are all being populated at the same time. This is where the delay in presentation is generated. On the iPhone, nothing loads until you actually click an icon. Interesting isn’t it! Take a look at the video below. It’s a side by side comparison of both apps pretty much doing the same thing on the same Wifi network.

Facebook app comparison

Some may conclude this to be a downfall at first, but once you understand what is going on and how this works, you’ll find yourself to be much more forgiving. It’s not so much that the app is slow; the content is just delivered all at once, which requires a few more seconds to complete. This is a huge advantage of the UI from my perspective; I have no problem waiting a few extra seconds for a stream line delivery of content without further interaction with sub-menus. And once MS permits multi-tasking you can expect apps like Facebook to automatically update in the background so when you open it, the content is waiting there for you and voila, zero lag.