I see six smartphone platforms currently:
1. Apple iOS
2. Windows Phone 7
3. HP WebOS
4. Google Android
5. Blackberry OS
6. Nokia something-something.
Out of them, 1,4 and 5 have a huge market share and 1, 2 and 3 are really really well designed.
Today I read an article about 2, so lets talk about that.
Windows Phone 7 is the first thing I have seen out of Microsoft that is realy really fresh and original. It is inspired by the design of Zune which was meant to be an iPod competitor.
Let’s first get a feel of what it looks like: Windows Phone Website
Just see the screenshots here, to get an idea: Windows Phone 7 on Wikipedia
Here is an interesting video that talks about the design decisions that went into this Metro UI: The Context @ CTIA: Windows Phone 7 Overview on YouTube
See? It’s pretty different, right? A very very minimal design. No gradients, shadows or borders. Basic colours and no UI or chrome or buttons. Just content. The focus is on the content. And this is a very very good design perspective. I’m impressed. I am happy to see that the competition is actually pretty good for iOS. It’s just that Windows Phone 7 is not perfectly implemented. It’s a good idea but not properly taken through to completion.
Like, lets see their ad: New Windows Phone 7 Official Commercial TV Ad on YouTube
Do you see? They don’t really get it. This is not an ad that makes me want to buy this stuff. The idea or design is never enough in itself. The software is buggy and confusing. Apple is good at that, they are consistent and they simply don’t provide the features that aren’t well implemented yet.
Here is an in depth review I read: ignore the code: Windows Phone 7
It’s a good critique of UI design written by usability expert Lukas Mathis. You should actually try reading completely. User Interface design is going to become more and more important as technology matures and a good user experience becomes more important.
(This is why Apple has finally found success these days. Because they are good at design. “Technology alone is not enough” they say: Steve Jobs: Technology alone is not enough on YouTube and Apple — iPad 2 — TV Ad — We Believe on YouTube)
And now the next version called ‘Mango’ has more interesting stuff coming that is pretty interesting: Joe Belfiore shows off Windows Phone Mango on YouTube
I am really impressed with the work Microsoft’s phone division has done. Specifically the design philosophy and ideas. They are not just copying Apple but doing their own thing. It’s so much fun to see and follow such amazing competition.
Originally published at paramaggarwal.com.