In the world of mobile phone technologies changing from one device to another usually brings excitement. Getting a new device with more memory, faster CPU/GPU, better cameras, newer and faster radios is so thrilling. Other times it can bring the same immense excitement mixed in with the feeling of wanting to throw up. If you fall into the latter camp, it’s probably because you are switching OS platforms and a devote technophile. That is where I am currently at … the week before a new device launch and I am planning to switch OS camps. This time around is the HTC Arrive for Sprint which is the first Windows Phone 7 device for CDMA networks; you might know the GSM variant, the HTC 7 Pro, with slide-out keyboard and all.
This isn’t my first (or last) switch from phone OS’s. I’ve gone from PalmOS to Windows Mobile (2003 all the way to 6.5) to Blackberry, to webOS, to Android and, to iOS. All of these in no particular order and on several occasions more than once. This time feels different to me than previous changes. When I wanted to switch from Palm to Windows Mobile, it was because of the lack of multitasking and Wi-Fi support. From Windows Mobile to webOS, it was the lack of pretty and notifications. From webOS to Android, it was… well it was a lot (credit goes to Palm/HP for making round two three more interesting). So, why am I making the switch now and why the sudden urge to expunge my Jolt Cola and beef jerky?
I could easily say that I am happy with my HTC Evo running Android and let’s face it, a stock HTC Evo is a great device. Even then, I always take it one step further and dabble in custom ROMs with flashing and tweaking settings (the nerd in me can’t resist); this allows me to have the latest and greatest that Google has to offer for current generation devices like the Nexus S. I’m still not making a convincing argument for switching, am I? Then I’ll get to the point… Android has never been pretty. Never. Nope. It’s downright meh as a matter of fact. Metro UI is a beautiful design that I want to get to know. There is something pretty and oh-so-dreamy about the transitional movement that appeals to my brain. But, I’ve been burned on a move like this before (i.e. webOS is gorgeous but lacked functionality with early adoption; some could even argue it still is without major patching). Android also lacks decent music support for me. Sure it has Slacker and Pandora! They can get janky with the multitasking while listening to those applications (webOS has that market cornered, if you’ve ever heard the PalmCast over at sister site www.precentral.net, you’ll know I’m a fan of GPS & Slacker integration over Bluetooth in the car). The Zune Pass integration might give webOS a run for the money but it’ll have a lot to prove.
Now, here I am, going from one OS with multitasking, a decent notification system, insanely good Google services, and a wealth of developer support (commercial and developmental) to an OS with “zero” multitasking (let’s face it, there is no quick app switching, though it's coming with 'Mango' in the Fall), a notification system that needs some work, Google services that are passable with tweaking, and a fairly new core of developers (but with heavy hitters on the commercial side). And so, this is where my stomach churn occurs. I can watch YouTube video and YouTube video, read article after article, and talk to friend after friend on the Pro’s and Con’s of Windows Phone 7… and I still won’t know I’ve made the right switch until I’ve actually gone through with it.