The Unfinished iPhone: iPhone vs. Windows Mobile
Apple has done it again. They created incredible hype over the iPhone and have managed to redefine the landscape of the cell phone market. However, as one who has been around mobile devices for some time, I wondered if the excitement was really justifiable. So, I figured I would take a chance and go buy one of the "Jesus" phones, as it has been called. The following is a review of the iPhone that incorporates a comparison of its closest competitor, a Windows Mobile phone. We hope that this compare/contrast will help dim down the halo that seems to surround this supposed god-like phone from Apple, because as we found — the iPhone is an overrated, over hyped and basically useless device compared to our Windows Mobile phone.
There is no doubt that Apple has created a foolproof interface that will cause new users to ooh, ahh and maybe even drool a little. From the moment our iPhone was activated, we were in awe of how it responded to our every touch. It is obvious that the interface was built to be intuitive and self explanatory in a sexy sort of way. We honestly can’t say enough about this facet of the phone. In addition to the way the phone responds to your finger tips, the designers also added an accelerometer that can detect how the device is positioned. As a result, you can turn the iPhone around in your hand and the screen will automagically change to orient itself into a readable position.
Figure 1: iPhone Main Home Screen
Since there is really only one physical button (other than volume/silent switch/power), all interaction is done via the display — including typing. Prior to the release of the iPhone, there was much speculation over how well this would work and if it would leave your glass window a complete mess. Well, we can tell you that the keyboard is excellent and rarely mistypes. While using a board without tactile feedback is a bit awkward at first, it only takes a few minutes to acclimate yourself to the subtle ways the screen detects the your finger tips.
Figure 2: iPhone Keyboard
However, there is one major issue that arose during our testing — if you have finger nails of any significant length, you will not be able to easily get around. Granted, this problem can be easily fixed with a quick clip or by knuckling your way around. However, scenarios like this are why most mobile interactive screens have a stylus.
So, how does a Windows Mobile device compare? Well, our WM phone not only has an onscreen keyboard, but also a physical one that slides into the phone when not in use — not to mention letter recognition software, a transcriber, and the old school block recognition software — plus custom interfaces you can download and install. Ironically, my WM device will never steer me wrong if I use the slide out keyboard; tactile keyboards are still the best method for user interaction.
In addition, since Apple has come out with their slick and clever ways to provide user interaction, the Windows Mobile community has started to produce similar add-ons that emulate many of the interface components of the iPhone. For example, just visit http://lifehacker.com/software/hack-attack/turn-your-windows-mobile-phone-into-an-iphone-269055.php for a detailed procedure on how to give your Windows Mobile device a little of that iPhone interface flare including the slide locker, the application launch pad, and the iContacts scroller. Ironically, the Windows Mobile version of the launch pad is better designed than the iPhone's because you can add in as many Widgets as you want and assign them your own custom icons — unlike the locked-down iPhone where you have no control of the icon, much less what it does.
Figure 3: Windows Mobile iPhone-like launch pad
Figure 4: iApp on Windows Mobile
Figure 5: iLock on Windows Mobile
Figure 6: iLock on iPhone
However, if you want to break free from the defined "Home Page" mentality, Windows Mobile gives you the option to do whatever you want to your "Today Screen." This could include creating custom wallpapers (I much prefer a picture of my son to a blank background) to filling it with active icons that will launch any one of your third party programs. Oh, might I mention that this screen can be setup to include up to the date, weather conditions, and stock market data! On the iPhone, you have to open an application to view this data…
Figure 7: My Windows Mobile Today Screen