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5 things I can do with my windows mobile phone that you can't do with your iPhone

samsung_blackjack2
After playing with my friend’s iPhone for awhile, and using the company phone for testing out our iPhone applications, I started to get really jealous of how cool it is, and how uncool my samsung windows mobile phone seems by comparison.
The more I used the iPhone, the more I got upset at my windows phone and started demanding “Why can’t I do this on my phone?”, and the more I found that there were apps out there that I didn’t even know existed, as one of big problems with the windows platform is that its not easy to find good apps.
So here’s my take on how to make your windows phone better, and what it can do for now that the iPhone can’t do.

Powerful add on applications that really improve my phone:
  1. Fring (IM/gmail/twitter all in one tool)
  2. Google mobile tools (maps, gmail, reader, docs)
  3. Evernote (sync pic/audio/video/text notes easily)
  4. dashwire DashWire (sync all of your phone data)
What my phone can do that an iPhone can’t:
  1. Tether **
  2. Run more than one app at a time (background processing)
  3. Support multiple browsers (IE, Opera, skyfire, Iris)
  4. Multimedia messaging **
  5. Use a storage card for music, pics, etc

** While there are plans for the iPhone to support tethering and multimedia messaging, AT&T has not yet announced when it will be available.  (whereas I am writing this on the train right now, tethered to my phone, with just a basic data plan).  So I understand that it will be coming soon to the iPhone, but is not available yet.

To be honest I feel strongly that the first 2 are solid points, whereas the rest kind of quickly decrease in value, but I tried my best to come up with 5 things that mater, and I previously had ‘Record Video’ at #3, but now the iPhone will support that, so I had to take it out.

Tethering

While I saw good reviews of the Samsung BlackJack when I was in the market for a new phone, tethering was the #1 reason I bought the phone instead of an iPhone. Being able to get on the internet with my laptop from anywhere, at anytime is a very big deal for me. I take the train to work, and often have to rush out the door at night in order to make the schedule, but its easy for me to keep working from the train, and finish up my emails, check-in/deploy code, connect to vpn, etc. and that flexibility is huge.

As a consultant it means I can provide assistance to my customers in a more flexible manner. I recently had a customer contact me with an emergency deployment issue while I was on the road, about 20mins into a 4hour drive. While still on the phone with the customer I was able to plug my usb cable in, fire up my laptop, securely connect to their network, view the logs, debug the issue, change the code/configuration, check in to github, deploy and close out the tickets over the course of 2hours, all without losing connectivity (and picking up Wendy’s on the way!).

At one point I had tried to find telnet/ssh tools for my phone that would allow me to do some work from the phone directly, but I find its just easier to tether and use all the tools of my laptop.

Running Multiple applications

Being able to run multiple apps at once is more important than I originally realized, as it helps me to be much more productive and connected.

Some recent use cases of mine are:

  1. Using Fring to IM a colleague about an important work email, while walking to the subway, drafting a reply to that email, opening a new tab in my browser to check the bus schedule (if its on time I’ll take that instead of the train)
  2. Pulling up google Maps while on the road (while someone else is driving of course) to see the route to a friend’s house, using Fring to IM that friend that we’ll be there soon, and looking up events going on that weekend in the area.
  3. Talking on the speakerphone to a customer while looking for some info in email and google docs

Mulitple Browsers (or browser engines)

This might not be a very strong point as the browsing experience on the iPhone is pretty damn good, but I am happy to have:

  1. Multiple browsers for different uses (IE for simple mobile browsing, Iris/skyfire for a more powerful experience)
  2. Flash video support in the browser (YouTube, Hulu), with Skyfire

* I realize there are different browser options for the iPhone, but my understanding is that they all share the same platform (ie. none of them support flash in the browser)

Conclusion

For me the real lesson here is that I am motivated by ‘tool envy’, (insert joke _here_). This is just like what I have experienced when pairing with someone using intelliJ when I was on eclipse, or they’re on a mac when I’m working on windows and its something that can drive you to look at your environment and ask “how can I make this better?” For windows mobile users I think it takes a bit of effort to find the things that make the phone better, and its a shame that Microsoft hasn’t made this process eaiser. Once the iPhone has tethering, and with lower prices coming, its much harder to justify buying anything other than an iPhone.
(oh, and let me know if there is anything else I missed)

Related Services: iPhone Application Development, Custom Software Development

  1. John McCaffrey Reply

    Looks like there is now a way to tether your iPhone without jailbreaking it.

    http://www.9to5mac.com/9to5mac-tether-iPhone-hack

    Windows Mobile, you’d better catch up quick.

  2. Monish Reply

    Sopods full screen brower is a excellent
    single window-no history no frills browser
    for the iPhone/iPod touch

  3. Mobile Developer Reply

    These are all good and valid points about windows mobile. I think people have gotten all wrapped up in a very good marketing plan and that is definitely the work of some very smart people at Apple. Branding and marketing is multi-dimensional and they are really good at it. If I were MS I would try and hire the best and brightest at Apple. The technologies in windows mobile are very good as you stated and I am very happy with my HTC Touch Pro at this time.

  4. Mobile Developer Reply

    I got to thinking about this a little bit and I realized something. I don’t think people really care about this brand versus another brand. No argument that Apple is the king of branding and appearance. It is clear to me that windows mobile is so successful because of the features and that is one of the most important criteria for selection (at least to me).

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