Why are Windows Mobile Apps falling behind IPhone ones?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by Rotten-Apple, Oct 22, 2008.

  1. Rotten-Apple macrumors newbie

    Apr 4, 2008
    Hello guys! We need your vision for this thread:
    My nickname there is Speereo.

    2 Moderators: Please do not treat this post like promotional. We just have common question ;)

    Please do not post stuff like "MS sux" or "iThings rule"
    We need your vision IMO, but you have to have the vision to take part in the discussion. OK? :)

    You can post here and I will quote most interesting thoughts. OR you can post there, but please be polite :)

    To the subject
    Let me quote The Mailman:

    Editorial: Are we being left behind by the developers?

    Windows Mobile in its various forms has been around now for over 6 years and in its latest format of WM6 and WM6.1 is an OS capable of good and capable graphics.

    So, why are the majority of the applications still supplying outdated , text and list based programs whereas those for the iPhone are super smooth graphical finger and touch friendly. I accept for the Smartphone the text/list option may be the way to go but for the Professional (i.e. touch screen) versions there is no excuse.

    It just seems to me that they have jumped on the euphoric iPhone bandwagon and in doing so had to swallow Apple's rules and regulations regarding how and what they can sell as well as where they can sell it that they would never had accepted if Microsoft had required it.

    So what do I mean. Well the best way of describing my point is with actual applications:

    PocketInformant by WebIS is probably one of the most powerful Personal Management Systems available. And to see how cool and graphical it can be browse over to Welcome to WebIS.net - Pocket Informant iPhone. Admitedly , it’s not available yet but just look at the proposed screens with their easy touch tick boxes and the "jump to date" scroll. It will certainly put the latest PPC version to shame.

    Ilium software are no better with their up and coming Listpro shown here ListPro :: Ilium Software. Just showing what you can do with a totally list based application. They have also already released the iPhone version of eWallet which just looks so much cleaner and easier to use.

    So is anyone actually doing it right? No, although some are actually getting it, but then just taking that step too far (which I will explain later).

    So who are the people who are at least trying:

    SPB Software with their SPB Time / Online / Mobile Shell (and to a certain extent Pocket Plus). These are all superb applications that have an emphasis on graphics and touch friendly use. SPB have always been good on graphics though in the past these tended to be icons rather than true graphics.

    Before You Know It - a language tutor from Transparent Language is a perfect example of what an application can do and should do. Lots of good graphics and transitions.

    And finally Vito Technology the supreme model on which all other developers should look to show what is possible. Their iWindowsMobile suite has looked at iPhone and said "Yes I think we'll have some of that too!". Full finger & touch friendly navigation and usage alongside good looking graphics (which look similar to their sole iPhone product). next generation windows mobile software

    So why do I say no-one is providing us with the sort of applications coming out for the iPhone. Well in general they, with a few exceptions, are not even trying and when they do they just take it that one step too far.

    They all go "Full Screen". I don't want full screen - I want my task bar at the bottom and my start bar and button at the top. WM is a multi-tasking OS; I can run one app, switch to another and then return as I want. It's not an iPhone, which can do ONE task really fast and well, but which I have to close to do another. Provide us with a "full screen" option for when we want it, but make it our choice not the default, which then requires 1/2 a dozen taps to get out of.

    Anyway that’s my pennies worth. Been annoying me for a while now and it’s good to get it out. Does any one else agree with me or am I just on my own here?

    I actually use the following software;

    * WebIS PocketInformant / Flexmail
    * Ilium ListPro / Newsbreak
    * SPB PocketPlus
    * BYKI
    * Vito FunContact / SMS-Chat

    All of which I think are great programs that I could not live without. Links to the various sites have been provided so you can look at examples rather than embedded for copyright reasons.

    These comments are my own personal views.
  2. fishmoose macrumors 68000

    Jul 1, 2008
    This isn't really the place to discuss windows mobile is it?
    But to answer your question windows mobile apps are falling behind because you can't bug test the app before the phone gives you an BSOD
  3. huck500 macrumors 6502


    May 10, 2004
    Southern California
    I really don't know anything about windows mobile... does it have a built-in software distribution app? I know the app store has its issues, but it seems to me that a developer would rather develop for a device on which their app is just a button-press (on the device itself) away from purchase.
  4. skubish macrumors 68030


    Feb 2, 2005
    Ann Arbor, Michigan
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 2_1 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/525.18.1 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/3.1.1 Mobile/5F136 Safari/525.20)

    windoze sux always has always will.

    People aren't developing for winmobile because:

    1. No built in distribution system like the appstore.

    2. No hosting of POS is required on Appstore.

    3. Not having to test on multiple devices to ensure it's going to run.
  5. Joined:
    Aug 21, 2008
    Having come from a WinMo phone, I'd cite the lack of an appstore as being the biggest reason. For non tech savvy folks, tracking down the WinMo software they want is a pain since there's no central place to do it. Many people I know don't even try to look for software to add to their WinMo phones. Heck, even Cydia works incredibly well on jailbroken iPhones. Central distribution is definitely the way to go.

    I also think the lack of a smoothly operating touch screen handset on WinMo has hindered things. Maybe that'll change with the latest HTC Diamond hardware, but to date, the others have been buggy and slow, making it difficult to match the beauty and draw of a well implemented App Store app.
  6. RoboCop001 macrumors 65816

    Oct 4, 2005
    Toronto, Canada
    For frack's sake people, can't we just have a good conversation about this?

    If you dislike Windows, then just point out the good points of the iPhone OS and why you think it's better.

    But don't start going "Windows sux omg" and "why r u posting here wtf".

    I think this is the relevant place to bring this up.

    Not only can you discuss the strong points of the iPhone OS, but you can also discuss what things from Windows Mobile are good, and perhaps are missing from the iPhone.

    I mean, the first few lines of the original post were about graphics. At least talk about that, man.

    iPhone graphics are prettier because... why? Perhaps the developers on iPhone are in a more graphically stronger crowd? Maybe they just care more to make it nicer? Or maybe it's because Windows developers don't see the need for it to look really nice.

    My guess? Perhaps the iPhone draws a more graphically stronger crowd.
  7. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    As a long time Win-Mo user, and now a satisfied Iphone user, my impression is that Windows Mobile's biggest issue right now is that the core user interface was terrible to begin with, and it hasn't been updated in any significant way, ever.

    Let me back that statement up with some examples. The biggest strength of the iPhone is it's user interface. Apple nailed the ui on the iPhone, and developers are strongly encouraged to follow their model when building apps for the iPhone. This, of course, is made significantly simpler in that there is a good, consistent ui schema already in place, which makes it much easier for developers to build applications that follow those rules. The end result is that the user gets a consistent user interface across most (probably not all) applications.

    Windows Mobile suffers from an outdated ui that wasn't very good to begin with, and now every developer out there is left to attempt to paste their own take on what a modern win-mo ui should be. This leads to inconsistency. You might get a decent touch system wrapping the underlying Win-mo system with some devices from HTC, who has tasked their own developers to come up with a touch capable win-mo device, but that quickly disappears as users install all the other applications that they are used to having, which don't follow HTC's rules. More commonly, a win-mo user is stuck with the basic win-mo ui, and then pastes their own selection of touch capable apps on top of it - but because some are from HTC, some are from SPB, etc. etc, there is no consistency from app to app.

    FWIW, I am concerned that this same issue will eventually plague Android, with it's completely open architecture. This would mirror what we have on the desktop today, with Apple, heavily directed from the top providing a consistent, cutting edge ui, and Windows and Linux offering much more flexibility and/or 'open-ness' but at the cost of usability. One is not necessarily better than the other, but this long time Windows and Linux user is exceptionally happy with his iPhone, which, while in some ways may be less capable than Windows Mobile, ultimately makes using many applications so easy, that they actually get used, as opposed to Windows Mobile, where many applications were available, but ultimately so clunky that they were rarely put to use.
  8. kdarling macrumors P6


    Jun 9, 2007
    First university coding class = 47 years ago
    Yes, the Apple method makes it quite easy for the casual user. And lucrative for Apple. I bet Apple would love to lock in their desktops that way as well.

    While not as easy, there are lots of places to find WM software, same as if you were looking for desktop software. Just Google for "windows mobile free software" or "themes" or whatever.

    Handango is one of the biggest distributors for WM, Palm, Symbian, RIM, etc. They've been around for almost a decade.

    Some devices came with the Handango store app built-in. It was the original "App Store" for handhelds.

    The biggest difference is that Apple makes things easier for itself by enacting its own total control over iPhone app sales. Microsoft lets the market do its thing instead, perhaps because of being attacked for being a "monopoly" so much. Ironically, that role is swapped now.
  9. littlewaywelt macrumors regular

    Dec 4, 2007
    They aren't.

    There are WM apps that do things iPhone can't and many are much more powerful. Consider free apps that allow you to stream sirius or xm radio, or contact, PIM managers like Pocket Informant. Consider weather apps which are free and do much more than the best iPhone weather apps. I use both and I can tell you that WM apps in general are more powerful. Additionally there's a larger pool of enthusiasts who create brilliant programs they share for free. The more powerful apps tend to be much more expensive, but you get what you pay for. WM apps are better. What they lack in slick user interface with finger sweeps, they more than make up for in utility. Additionally, when it comes to efficiency and easy of use a dpad interface, as antiquated as it might be sometimes is far superior, like when it comes to text editing or tabbing and navigating menus.

    With regard to Pocket Informant you're completely incorrect. WebIS acknowledge on their website that the first versions of iphone PI won't have the same utility and power as WM, because they've had multiple generations to increase its utility and capabilities on the WM platform
  10. bigmouth macrumors 6502

    Jul 24, 2008
    This is my experience and perception, too -- well said.
    There are already unofficial apps that do that for unlocked iphones. It's only a matter of time before official versions show up in the app store.
  11. shk718 macrumors 65816

    Jun 26, 2007
    I've had several windows mobile phones and at the time I though they were great - and they were. But one of the most annoying things was the fact that you had to use a pointing device. It was very awkward to use the phone one handed. They were following a desktop approach instead of a phone approach. They had these annoying dropdown lists - tiny buttons in the most awkward places. And all of the developers followed this model. I would buy applications from Handango - but i don't think they have a large enough marketing budget to really get the word out - microsoft should have helped them (or bought them). Have you ever seen a handango ad on Tv? When microsoft introduced their non-stylus version of the phone that made things worse because none of the software i bought for the touch version worked. Everything needed to be re-written - re-tested and re-bought. I for one got really really annoyed by this. I'd have an application work on one phone but not work on another. now each manufacturer is trying to add their own twists to the os - which will further make the software incompatible.

    Apple developed the most amazing non-stylus interface ever developed. They gave developers a form to copy - gave them the tools thru the SDK to copy it easily and are even forcing them to copy it. All of the applications now have the same look and feel. They work on the 1st and 2nd gen of the phone - they transfer easily and we all know where to find them. When there is an update we find out easily. Apple has been very conscious about the look and feel of their os and applications running on it for years and their doing the same thing with the iphone. Apple developers share the same mindset as apple - so when they develop an app they self regulate themselves to make sure it has the same look and feel that apple prefers.

    It was amazing to me to see the screen shots webis put up. I always thought their product was way too complicated and bogged down with buttons and lists. This is a mobile phone for gods sakes – not a desktop. I thought for sure they would screw up their iphone application. Wow – they didn’t – they conformed to apples standards and their product looks 1000x better.

    So the reason the iphone applications are such a success:

    1. The os
    2. The SDK
    3. The app store
    4. The developers
  12. Pared macrumors 65816

    Oct 19, 2007
    Ex WinMo user here myself who is completely ecstatic with his iPhone.

    I absolutely LOVED Pocket Informant. Probably the ONLY app that, IMO, made my Dell and HP PDA's with WinMo worthwhile.

    There just isn't too much of a need to edit some docs and such on the go in my field (IT). MobileOffice is so constricted... not to mention it would alter files in my PowerPoint presentations without me knowing.

    Personal organization is huge and PI IS still simply unmatched. The thought behind everything was phenomenal.... same goes for TCPMP.

    Most WinMo programs are shallow, bloated and not worth the effort needed to use them. I love iPhone's apps for their simplicity. Most apps don't try and be the "end-all" app; They do what they intend to and that's all. I love that.
  13. vrflyer macrumors 6502


    Jul 15, 2008
    Suburb of Columbus
    I believe iPhone (Apple) learned how the first users were interacting with the first PPC windows based mobile devices and then applied the same science with a slightly better human interface approach. :cool:
  14. firewood macrumors 604

    Jul 29, 2003
    Silicon Valley
    Microsoft provided so many choices for the hardware vendors and software distribution methods that everybody used that great freedom to fracture the market, and required developers to target dozens of different OS versions and device configurations. Microsoft also provided a very easy path for developers to port their 10 year old window apps, so everybody could write an app, whether they had any contemporary design skills or not.

    Apple provided no choice in hardware and software distribution. This horrible lack of freedom restricted developers into only one big huge giant growing app market, which all users could easily find, and only a couple nearly identical hardware platforms to target. They also made it nearly impossible for developers to easily port their old crufty Windows apps to the iPhone. Nearly everything had to be freshly developed in a market where ugly apps looked really bad in comparison to everything else. That's why Apple has made the iPhone such a failure for app developers and users. NOT.

  15. kas23 macrumors 603


    Oct 28, 2007
    Does this "NOT" negate everything you just said? Were you being sarcastic then?
  16. Rotten-Apple thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 4, 2008
    Thank you all guys!
    special thanx go to Helper Monkey, kdarling, RoboCop001, zhenya, little waywelt, shk718!
  17. Michael CM1 macrumors 603

    Feb 4, 2008
    I'd agree. I wouldn't know the first place to go to find any software for Windows Mobile. I would guess Microsoft's Web site, but they won't have third-party stuff. The App Store may be a little cluttered, but EVERYTHING is there. It's the same deal with why I use iTunes and Amazon to buy digital music. If a song is anywhere, it's most likely in one of those two places.
  18. goosnarrggh macrumors 68000

    May 16, 2006
    Firewood's first paragraph started out sounding like a fairly rational, dispassionate description of some of the facts of the matter - giving reasonable explanations for at least a portion of WinMo's fragmented application distribution space and sometimes dubious application quality.

    Then the second paragraph emerged and, while accurate factually, it was dripping with unprovoked sarcasm that cheapened my impression of firewood's entire point.
  19. sparkyms macrumors 65816

    Feb 22, 2007
    Southampton UK
    One potential problem with the Win-Mo platform is that it's used on such a wide variety of devices, from stuff like an HP iPaq PDAs to mobile phones.

    Each of these devices can be very different in the way they function, and the main issue here is that difference.
    As someone said before in this thread, it doesn't really matter how good of a device as say HTC can make, the software that it runs on will be it's downfall. As far as I am aware the Win-Mo platform doesn't currently support multi-touch input? This could definitley be a hampering to both devices, and again software development of the platform.

    This creates real problems with apps. Although there isn't a great difference in power etc within win-mo devices all of the devices can be very different hence making it different to develop and test for them.

    If the software doesn't move forward neither will devices, but if devices aren't REALLY pushing the software, the software will never change. And with such a wide variety of devices using the platform, it might take a long while to achieve this.

    This is the great thing about the iPhone and iPod Touch platform, Apple doesn't really need to rely on anyone to move the software forward, they created hardware to support the software they wanted to use, and that in turn spurs developers into creating something that is going to fit within that.

    It's a lot easier to test for iPhone and iPod Touch OS, there's only a few devices, and if it works on one, it will certainly work on all (other than GPS dependant apps).
    And, I can't speak of the SDK for win-mo, I wouldn't have a clue as to how easy that is to work with, but from what I've seen with the iPhone, building an actual interface for an app is a complete doddle with interface builder to make a UI in-keeping with that of the iPhone.
  20. Pressure macrumors 68040


    May 30, 2006
    The simple answer would be that Microsoft have been sleeping at the wheel when developing Windows Mobile.

    It hasn't really come further than version 6.
  21. markgamber macrumors 6502

    Jul 2, 2005
    Redneck, PA
    I think this is little more than perspective. I've done apps for WinMo, iPhone and Blackberry and there's really very little overlap between them so I'd say there's little competition between them, also.

    If you use an iPhone, WinMo can look clunky and antiquated. I'd wager most iPhone users, especially those who dismiss WinMo out of hand (i.e. "Windoze sucks" and other missed attempts at intelligence), have never used a WinMo phone or, not being "power users", didn't appreciate it for what it is.

    On the other hand, WinMo users can see the iPhone as simplistic, very limited and weak. I'd wager most WinMo users, especially those who dismiss the iPhone out of hand (i.e. "Apple sux" and other missed attempts at intelligence), have never used an iPhone and don't appreciate it for what it is.

    Per apps in particular, it depends on what you're looking at. Apple and WinMo both suffer from a pile of apps that were obviously slapped together with little thought put into optimizing for the underlying system and how the apps would be used. That leads to some totally retarded UI layouts on both platforms. But there are also some excellent apps for both platforms that use their underlying systems to it's fullest potential. The iPhone has Safari, Beejive and MLB At Bat (I'm only citing those I actually have), for example. WinMo has Slingplayer, TomTom and Beejive (again, I'm only citing those I actually have) as examples.

    There will probably always be some ebb and flow when comparing what's available for various systems but, by and large, I wouldn't say WinMo is being left behind at all. If nothing else, I've installed two updates to Slingplayer on my Tilt this year, the most recent being two weeks ago. The app doesn't even exist for iPhone yet and I doubt anyone here is going to see it for several months to come, during which time Blackberry users will finally get their Sling client.
  22. kdarling macrumors P6


    Jun 9, 2007
    First university coding class = 47 years ago
    That's like asking, where would I go for Mac or PC desktop apps? You look around.

    I'd guess you never owned a WM device for any length of time, or else you'd know about Handango or all the free app sites. Not to mention the hacker community with the XDA guys. And all the homescreen add-ons that even casual intelligent users can program or design.

    MarkGamber: Good post. Well put.

    Again, I come from almost two decades of doing touchscreen apps on large and small devices. On most we used very touch-friendly sized UI elements, so it's not like Apple invented that idea. Not by a very long shot. And I really think WM was headed that way too.

    But I'm glad that Apple pushed the issue. I can't count the number of times I'd write the WM people at MS and ask for more glamor and less biz APIs :)
  23. milani macrumors 68000


    Aug 8, 2008
    Best post in this thread.
  24. PatrickRolfsen macrumors regular


    Jun 23, 2007
    San Francisco, CA
    i'm not sure they were ever really keeping up
  25. firewood macrumors 604

    Jul 29, 2003
    Silicon Valley
    I forgot to put the appropriate smiley or anti-smiley.

    :( :)


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