So after browsing through all this news about the Microsoft event this morning, something interesting hit me and prompted me to do some other research. There seemed to be a shit ton of features being released that other companies had just recently nailed down into a usable fashion, and some that still kind of suck. Other features, like OS level social networking integration, have yet to be tried in a fashion that matches Windows Phone capabilities. Then you have things like the ability to do either unified or separate email inboxes on the homescreen. I wanted to look at Android because the Iphone is slower than one legged turtle with a brain aneurysm at getting shit integrated in their OS. Their “app for that” model is failing pretty hard at creating a unified experience that creates a sense of oneness within the OS, and more a disparity of functionality spread across a series of various quality apps. This means a sort of up and down experience with app functionality and navigational methodology that can be frustrating with the multitude of applications flooding said markets. I’d rather have OS support before an app any day. On to my actual point instead of stuff everyone already knows.
Android was introduced in September of 2008, a similar release timing with Windows Phone as far as quartile placement to gather holiday sales. This is about ubiquitous in the smartphone game. Make hype in summer, drop product in holidays, bump features in spring with minor updates, new product and OS cycle in September the following year. But one major difference between the three OS heavyweights is the features that are being introduced at these intervals. Wikipedia has a great list of Android versions and their major feature sets here. In case you’re too lazy to read all of that crap, I’ll break it down for you here.
The first major update to the Android OS came at the exact interval the Windows Phone update did, late April, the 30th to be exact and this was merely a release. At this point developer were blessed with this update, but phone manufacturers were still integrating this OS update into their hardware solutions. So basically I got my update sooner than Android did on my HTC Surround, the absolute last Windows Phone to receive the NoDo update. What did it add to the operating system? Let me go block quote on you for a second;
- Virtual keyboard: Support for 3rd party keyboards with text prediction & user dictionary for custom words
- Widgets: Are miniature application views that can be embedded in other applications (such as the Home screen) and receive periodic updates
- Camera: Video recording
- Gallery: Video playback (MPEG-4 & 3GP formats)
- Bluetooth: Stereo support added (A2DP and AVRCP profiles), Auto-pairing
- Browser: Copy and paste features added
- Contacts: Shows user picture for Favorites
- Dialer: Specific date/time stamp for events in call log and one-touch access to a contact card from call log event
- System: Animated screen transitions
- Upload videos to YouTube
- Upload photos on Picasa
Don’t think I need to tell you that most of these features were already present in the Windows Phone OS. One feature in this update that sticks out kind of big to me is the whole copy paste business. So it took Google just as long to make it happen as Microsoft. Lame. And widgets? Really? This had to be an update to the OS? Widgets are neat and all but dealing with a host of widgets versus good OS integration is a no contest. Want more proof that the Microsoft Windows Phone team has been coding like a mountain dew fueled blackhat conference? How about 1.6 or Doughnut?
Search: Developers can now include their content in search results
Text to speech: Features a multi-lingual speech synthesis engine to allow any Android application to “speak” a string of text
Android Market: Allows easier searching, app screenshots, etc.
Camera, camcorder, and Gallery: Updated integrated with faster camera access
Gallery: Now enables users to select multiple photos for deletion
System: Updated technology support for CDMA/EVDO, 802.1x, VPNs, and a text-to-speech engine
Display: Support for WVGA screen resolutions
Speed improvements in searching and camera applications
Expanded Gesture framework and new GestureBuilder development tool
Google free turn-by-turn navigation
How does all that look to you? Faster camera access? Like if you had a hardware button to pull up the camera from anywhere in the OS? CDMA support? Got you covered. Better market search hu? Yeah, we got that in the previous update cycle. I’m not even going to go into the 2.0/2.1 crap that “should have been included in a modern smartphone.” If you want more proof just hit up the android version history article I linked to.
So back to my original point; Microsoft’s software dev team is leapfrogging everyone else’s previous OS update schedule which means all those analysts claiming Microsoft supremacy in 2015 may give them enough time to actually do that. Will they be market leaders by then? Maybe not, but they’ll definitely be one of the leading software innovators in the smartphone game by that time.