The HTC One M8 for Windows, currently only on Verizon, is expected to get a wider release in the coming weeks and months, including on AT&T in the US. As a result, a few of you are at least contemplating jumping from your Lumia to this new flagship Windows Phone, which looks to be the only one for the next few months. The hardware is certainly compelling and – spoiler alert – so far I am categorically enjoying using it as my daily driver.
However, you may be wondering what you lose by switching over in terms of those Nokia apps. I'll break it down for you.
Before we jump to the exclusive stuff, I should point out that all of the HERE services are available for all Windows Phones, and not just Lumias. This change in status was announced back in April and the apps include:
- HERE Maps
- HERE Drive+
- HERE Transit
The HERE mapping system uses the same offline maps as the OS, so downloading them once for the default 'Maps' app (which is present on the HTC One) lets them carry over for HERE Maps, HERE Drive+ and HERE Transit.
HERE Drive+ is a big deal for many as it is a free, reliable, GPS navigation system. HERE Drive+ includes things like 'My Commute' to guide you quickly to work and announced street names through the voice-guidance system. (See our recent nav app smack down between Navigon and HERE Drive+ for a comparison).
If you do opt for the HTC One M8 for Windows, on either Verizon or another carrier when available, you still get those apps and services to use. Nice.
No Nokia Collection
Perhaps the bigger deal is by jumping to the HTC One M8 for Windows, you do lose everything in the Nokia Collection.
As it turns out, in August 2014, this is less of a big deal than it was a year ago. The reason? Who remembers when we used to write articles about a brand new app coming to Windows Phone, but they were only available on Lumias? Indeed, it seemed like almost every other week we were writing that story, but that timed-exclusivity has almost disappeared. Almost. As a result, the 'app-gap' within the Windows Phone system is less pronounced back when Nokia was aggressively vying for Windows Phone dominance.
However, that does not mean there are not some fantastic Nokia apps still only available for Lumia devices. Below is that list.
- Nokia Storyteller
- Nokia Play To
- Nokia Pocket Magnifier
- Nokia Car App
- Nokia Refocus
- Nokia Cinemagraph
- Nokia Creative Studio
- Nokia Video Trimmer
- Nokia Video Upload
- Nokia Glam Me
- Nokia Beamer
As you can see, the Nokia Collection is still significant, especially when compared to HTC or Samsung. Speaking of, what do you get with HTC that is only available on the One M8 for Windows Phone?
- HTC Photo Edit
- Video Highlights
- HTC BlinkFeed
- HTC Sense TV
- HTC Camera
HTC's list is not nearly as comprehensive, but they do overlap with some of Nokia's, including Photo Edit and Camera. Additionally, things like Sense TV, which is HTC's remote control app for your TV demoed earlier, is unique to the One M8. Video Highlights is also a great app that rounds up your photos based on time and location, sets them to music with visual effects and lets you share the 30-second creation to social networks (I'll do a demo in a separate article).
Does it matter?
If you straight up compare apps to apps, it is clear Lumias still maintain a healthy advantage over HTC, especially when it comes to the camera and photography. Some of those differences become more evident with a forthcoming firmware update for Lumias too, so there are still advantages today – and tomorrow – by going with a Lumia.
Still, just because you can use all of those Lumia apps does not mean you do. Personally speaking, I rarely use things like Cinemagraph, Refocus, Glam Me, or Photobeamer. I certainly appreciate how awesome those apps can be, but when I consider how I use my phone on a daily basis, those apps rarely factor into my usage. Other apps, like Refocus or Video Trimmer, have analogs on the HTC One. For instance, Refocus is built into HTC Camera, and when the app is set to auto, it spontaneously captures the full refocus image. In that regard, HTC Camera – at least for refocusing – is superior to the Nokia method, whereby you have to plan.
Interestingly, Microsoft's Video Tuner is still a Lumia-exclusive, so HTC One users cannot use that excellent app, which is a bit of a shame.
The conclusion to take away is this: If you are using a Lumia Windows Phone right now, reflect how often you use those apps in the above list. If you swear by them and consider those apps a routine part of your smartphone experience, then you may want to re-think switching. If, however, you rarely use them, jumping ship to HTC is not that big of a deal.
Personally speaking I cannot say in switching I am desperately missing any of those Lumia apps, even if I appreciate how well done they are. When it comes to photos, I am more of a post-edit kind of person, and let us be honest you are unlikely to be buying the HTC One because you want the best smartphone camera around. In fact, you likely think snapping pics as secondary to the overall phone experience, in which case those missing Nokia apps are not a big deal. The point being, people's opinions on this vary, and you should consider where you fall on the spectrum.
More to come
Finally, in this article I looked at the apps that are unique to the Lumia line versus HTC, but there are also the Lumia-exclusive features found in their Lumia Cyan firmware like Glance Screen. I'll take a look at that next time.
So give it some thought and let me know in comments where you stand. Are those Nokia apps invaluable to you or do you think you can live without them?
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Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.