A Smarter Phone

27 02 2010

At the risk of turning everyone off from the very sentence, I will go ahead and say it anyway: I love my iPhone. It changed my life, and continues to do so every day I use it.

But I also have had this nagging feeling that there is something more…a lot more…that could be done to smart phones to…well, make them smarter. While Apple may have raised the bar a few feet higher than Blackberry, Palm, et al, they left plenty of room for improvement.

And sometimes being late to the party can be a good thing, because Microsoft’s forthcoming WP7 operating system for smart phones is about to redefine the genre. It’s going to add some smarts that Apple and everyone else left out. Like search.

It is hard to believe that phone developers have overlooked what is without doubt the most important application on the internet. Hardly a day goes by in which I don’t Google at least a dozen terms or phrases. In order to do, I must be able to search. Every phone in which WP7 is installed will have a little search key (a magnifying glass) that will automatically put users on Microsoft’s Bing search engine (hmmm…go figure). Now try doing a search on an iPhone. You have to first of all find your Google app. Given that searching is so critical to our online experience, it makes sense to give it a prominent location.

Like on the main screen.

But that’s not all. Microsoft has bundled a bevy of cool functionalities onto that main screen, like access to Xbox live (for online video gaming), a Pictures hub that integrates images from the phone, your computer and social networking sites, and a People section that includes Facebook and Twitter access.

My iPhone should be so easy to navigate.

Ironically, all of this goodness is coming from a company that has a hard time producing a decent computer operating system one out of every three tries. Vista is a joke, and the jingle emanating from every PC upon start-up is one of the most despised sounds in the world (because it is most commonly associated with computer crashes in the first place). And it is coming from a company that saw fit to move everything around in the Office 2007 Suite so that long-time users couldn’t find anything.

And now you know why I’m a Mac.

So will I be in line next Christmas to buy a new phone running on WP7? Nope. Because I know that, while Apple could have done better with its first few iPhones, it won’t have any problem one-upping Microsoft on this. I am, however, thankful to Microsoft for kicking the can farther down the road…way down the road. At least I won’t have to search much longer for a phone that can truly do everything.

Dr “Search Me” Gerlich

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