WinPhone 7 and the disappearing background apps…

by Mike
Posted March 15th, 2010 at 8:49 pm

So what do you think? Generally it’s good practice to ask the mind bending, cortex tickling question at the end. You know, saving the best for last. But I figured I’d switch it up. WinPhone 7 is a dramatic departure from Windows Mobile in every way. It’s appearance, functionality, features, and overall usability have all been given huge boosts. So much so that even I, a long time WinMo hater have seen the light at the end of Microsoft’s tunnel. It’s not all happy endings though. As the title above suggests, one monumental change from WinMo 6.x to WinPhone 7+ is how the OS handles multiple apps — or lack there of.

It is now stapled in history the age of the multi-tasking mobile Windows operating system for WinPhone 7 and beyond will employ a sort of background notification system much like Apple has made famous with the iPhone platform. As a standalone replacement for background processing, it’s not all that bad. The best examples of background notifications being beneficial are of course in communicative apps such as instant messengers in which information is constantly traded back and forth in real time. Other apps however don’t benefit at all. Apps such as, task managers, games, etc. How will Microsoft tweak WinPhone 7 to handle these circumstances.

Another large talking point that is kind of reliant on the whole background notification topic is that of notifications in general. In WinPhone 7, a sort of overlay/notification drop down will appear whenever the user receives an IM, text, email, and so on. Clicking on the notification will take the user to the respective app quickly, giving the OS an overall smoother feel and interactivity. But what if you miss several notifications? Is there some place for the user to go and quickly glance at the number of and type of notifications received since last using the device? Sadly, at this point there isn’t. It’s up to the user to go to each app and check for any new messages or updates. Again, another area that needs just a little more crafting.

For me, I’m a big text based talker and multi-tasker. How an OS and device work together to blend the two is a big thing for me. With the massive overhaul we’ve seen so far in WinMo 7, I can honestly say that now more than ever, Microsoft is this close to convincing me that a WinPhone purchase is warranted. The two points highlighted above however still leave me sitting on the fence, unable to justify quite yet jumping all the way in.

Is the more “mass appeal” paint job slathered all over the OS in terms of much improved simplicity (read: neutering of background processes) and lack of any real unified notification area ala Android’s drop down notification bar actually a step too far? Simply put, is Microsoft trying too hard to be like everyone else that it is falling into jack of all trades, master of none?

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2 ResponsesLeave a comment
  • Cass
    March 15, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    The other change is political. Microsoft is going to start an approval process for apps, like Apple does.

    It seems Android is the last open platform left.

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