Windows 10 Mobile is a great OS. It is fast, efficient, elegant and clean looking. Live tiles give you glanceable information saving you from opening apps and its part of the an ecosystem of 200 million devices but Windows 10 Mobile/Windows Phone 8 market share is now globally around 1%, Microsoft now develop apps for other platforms and currently not making any Lumia phones.
So as a Windows fan and technology enthusiasts it sad to see the mobile platform I prefer using and have been using full time for the last few years become a very minor player in the market. For me the time has come to look at another mobile platform and while I like Apple’s hardware the closed nature of the OS means I have switched back to Android with the purchase of a Nexus 6P. I should say that there is nothing actually wrong with Windows 10 Mobile and I could quiet happily continue using my 950 XL as my main phone but as we discussed on the podcast a couple of weeks ago is staying on Windows 10 Mobile a case of the heart ruling the head.
While the 6P is new I have kept up with Android by occasionally using my old Nexus 5 but unless you are using a mobile OS full time you can’t really find the pros and cons of the platform. So for the last week I have been full time with the Nexus 6P.
When you use Android you need a Google account and I know this could put some Windows users off the platform (my podcast co-host Jason being one of them) for me this is not an issues.
While I do miss live tiles from Windows 10 Mobile Android widgets mean you have more than just dumb shortcuts and in some widgets like the Outlook Mail widget are very useful and save you opening the app to check your mail. In the last couple of years Android has progressed a long way and material design has become an elegant experience.
What really makes the difference and the reason why most people switch from Windows Phone is the app ecosystem. There are way more apps available for iOS and Android than there are for Windows Phone and where apps are available on Windows Phone / Windows 10 Mobile they tend to be less developed with less features (with a couple of exceptions).
The missing apps tend not to be high profile apps but rather smaller specific task apps that are important for you. It could be a sports live timing app (F1 live timing or Le Mans timing) or something like IFTT apps or the Sonos controller app. For each person it will be different but there will always be something you are missing.
The other problem is many cases where the app is available on Windows Phone or Windows 10 Mobile it lacks many of the features of the other platforms or are just web wrappers. For example the BBC iPlayer Radio app on Windows is a very basic wrapper of the BBC website with no offline playback and very basic functionality, my banking app is same. Other app like Amazon’s Kindle app are inferior on Microsoft’s platform and some like PayPal are being withdrawn. There are some exceptions like the great Tweetium app (which I am really missing) and the Microsoft’s Groove app is very poor on Android. Talking of Microsoft apps Microsoft make the transition from Windows very easy by having quality apps on Android. Outlook is a great app and has features that Windows doesn’t have e.g. Focused Mailbox. Microsoft Health and Microsoft Band support are almost the same as Windows, the app looks identical and Cortana has recently been added to the Android version so I have no problem using my Band with Android. OneNote works great as does OneDrive, the Microsoft authenticator app is better than the Windows version (a new version for Redstone is coming). In fact I have more apps from Microsoft on my Nexus than anyone else except for Google.
So with the quality Microsoft apps for Android moving platforms is pretty easy. One app that is a problem is Groove music, on Windows the app has developed into a quality music player with an extensive catalogue of music. When it comes to the Android version many of the features available on Windows are missing. The app is slow to load, seems to be constantly syncing and lacks the clean UI of the Windows version. There is just no comparison between the Android version of Groove and an app like Google Play Music. So much so that I am will probably cancel my subscription to Groove and use Google Play Music. I do keep my Groove and Google Play Music in sync (see my tip) so my own content is synced between the two systems but I found that Google Play Music app is SO much better it is worth switching.
Another difference I noticed is Google Maps compared to Microsoft’s maps app. Microsoft’s app has improved since its initial release last year but Google’s app has more detailed traffic information, cycling navigation and I found driving navigation to be smoother and more easy to follow on Android. One thing I do prefer on Microsoft’s app for offline navigation, with Google Maps you have to specify an area to download for offline and you can’t just pick the whole of the UK, so you end up selecting zones to download. On Windows 10 you can select a country or region to download and which is much simpler but in almost all the other ways Google Maps is more advanced that Windows Maps.
The other different is Android has Google Now & “OK Google” with Windows you have Cortana. The main difference is that Cortana seems to have a personality whereas Google Now is very much more functional, I found “OK Google” speech recognition is better than Cortana and Microsoft’s assistant seems to pass off more requests to Bing than Google does. Google Now’s cards also seem to be more relevant than Cortana.
My Lumia 950 XL has Windows Hello where it uses face recognition to sign you into Windows which works most of the time but I find it quicker to sign in with a PIN and not as useful as I thought it would be. The Nexus 6P has a finger print reader on the back so you can pick up the phone with your finger on the back and unlocks the phone which is much faster and works every time. Android also supports unlocking with trusted Bluetooth device (or NFS, locations etc) so my Microsoft Band keeps the phone unlocked while it is with me.
I am still finding issues with the 6P, it doesn’t always connect up to my audio system in the car and I end up having to turn off BT and back on for it to connect an issues I never had with Windows 10 Mobile (but I know others had). Also the battery life of the Nexus 6P isn’t as good as the 950 XL, I get about 14-20 hours on the 6P depending of usage but I get over 24 hours with the 950 XL.
So which device will I end up using full time? It will probably be the Nexus 6P with my 2nd SIM going into the 950 XL. While I love the Windows 10 Mobile and there are new universal apps being launched but it is very unlikely that in the next few years Windows 10 Mobile will catch up to iOS and Android if ever. When you see an advert on TV and they show apps are available they always show an iOS App Store and Google Play Store logos or you go in to a shop and they advertise a mobile app it is always for iOS and Android even when they do have a Windows app.
The hope is that Windows 10 Mobile is just part of Windows 10 and Microsoft can continue to develop the OS without having to worry about market share at the moment, so maybe in the long term Microsoft can come back but for me the head is going to rule the heart and I am switching to Android full time.
I haven’t talked about Android Wear yet which is something else I am going to be looking at.
One thought on “Switching to Android from Windows 10 Mobile”
I recently made a similar conversion (to the Nexus 5x instead of the 6P), and my results are almost identical to yours. Those incremental apps available on Android and not available on Windows are the difference between have a phone that does its job and a phone that is a pleasure to own and use. For me it was baseball, banking, and Google Voice that drove me to make the switch. I agree whole-heartedly that Google Play Music is vastly superior to Groove as a music service. Groove is functional – it does what it does – it plays music. Google Play Music is fun to use. The radio stations and curated music are better and being able to mark a song with thumbs up and have a thumbs up auto-playlist is the best feature. And with Pushbullet, I can get all my Android notifications pushed to my PC. Google Now is better than Cortana, too, as you described. I even took the Cortana app off my phone because it was consuming more battery power than any other aspect of the phone – the display and Android itself included. Very strange. I wanted Windows Mobile to be a great solution, but it’s just not.