Tag Archives: Microsoft

UX: Apple iOS and Microsoft Windows Phone

Ultimately, it’s up to you to ascertain which OS you prefer. Neither iOS nor Windows Phone
is for everyone and having choice is good:

Apple – iOS 7
The Smartphone Reinvented Around You | Windows Phone (United States)

Background

Back when I got an iPod Touch as a replacement for the already exceptional Jens of Sweden MP-120, I was absorbed. Since then, my fiancé has had an Apple iPhone 3GS before switching to the Samsung Galaxy S3 and then ultimately to the Nokia Lumia 920. My older, as well as both my younger and youngest brother, have an Apple iPhone. I have been approachable to perpetual persuasion by a friend too, ever since I got the Sony Ericsson C901 GreenHeart. I have had my beguilement diminish from each Apple announcement, while becoming increasingly intrigued with Windows Phone since WP7 was announced, namely the Nokia Lumia 800. Even so, the first Windows Phone I got was the Nokia Lumia 920 with WP8. The innovation of it was akin to when Apple announced the iPhone. I have to commend Apple though, for their expeditious availability after every announcement!

UX

I profoundly favor the Windows Phone operating system and that is why I switched to an Apple iPhone 4 with iOS 7.0.4 for at least a 28 day span, during which I occasionally read iMore as opposed to Windows Phone Central. Beginning, I wrote using Microsoft Office Mobile for iOS. Although, it was certainly not anything like the sophisticated Windows Phone equivalent. I quickly encountered lag, a bug or two and even a crash, loosing recent editing, and thus proceeded with Microsoft Office 365 and Windows 8.1. I would have liked to write half of everything using Apple Pages for comparison, but it isn’t free, neither is Apple Numbers nor Apple Keynote. With each and every Windows Phone, you have Microsoft Office Mobile for free: Word, Excel and PowerPoint (as well as OneNote of course).

Two screenshots of Microsoft Office Mobile for iOS: Word and Excel.

Microsoft Office Mobile for iOS: Word and Excel.

Two screenshots of Microsoft Office Mobile for Windows Phone: Word and Excel.

Microsoft Office Mobile for Windows Phone: Word and Excel.

I am somewhat biased, inevitably, which isn’t necessarily negative, as I will nonetheless be equitable when comparing iOS 7.0.4 on the iPhone 4 against Windows Phone 8 with Update 3 on a Nokia Lumia 920 and the recent “Black” firmware. This isn’t a review though; thence the categorization: UX. I exclusively compare a segment of the operating systems from an end user perspective and out-of-box experience (OOBE), reserving the technical comparison and iOS jailbreaking for the time being. In addition, I won’t be comparing the devices either, as the iPhone 4 precedes the Nokia Lumia 920 by a year.

Bias and impartiality

In actuality, I don’t have brand loyalty per se, I continually reevaluate every product and service. The corporation itself is of relevance but I also value each and every product or service on their own, e.g. I have gone back and forth between the choice of Intel versus AMD for the processor, NVidia versus AMD (former ATI Technologies Inc.) for a graphics processing unit, as well as the choice of PC motherboard and peripheral manufacturer, et al. I opt for price/performance and/or performance/watt ratio and gladly pay a premium for heightened quality. I considered HTC before Nokia for a smart phone too, or rather, the 8X as opposed to the 920. I have used several Macs from the Macintosh Classic in elementery school, through the iMac G3 in high school to the Power Mac G5 at the university, amongst other Macs.

I don’t use everything Microsoft, although I often favor their product or service and acknowledge Microsoft as the overall excelling corporation as to Apple and Google, and I will elaborate on that separately. I have extensively used Google and Apple services too, e.g. Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Google+, Google Chat, Google Chrome, Apple QuickTime, Apple Safari and Apple iTunes, and I still use a few of them on a regular basis. I was an early adopter of Google Buzz and Google Wave as well. I have come to profoundly favor Microsoft services as of late now that they have vastly revised them and this is expectantly part of a series of UX comparisons of operating systems and services.

UI

I am not a UI designer, naturally, this is my subjective view. Although, I do have a background in printing media, design, typography and layout.

It’s immediately apparent why you droop over the iPhone with the arm(s) close to the body, arching, submerged and fidgeting with the iPhone while profoundly preoccupied. It’s hard not to do that as the small screen is too crowded and everything minuscule due to the substantial pixel density of it; the sharpness is commendable though. The Nokia Lumia 520 has a screen resolution of 480 by 800 across 4 in. and the Apple iPhone 4 has 640 by 960 across 3.5 in. The Nokia Lumia 920 has 768 by 1280 across 4.5 in. while the Apple iPhone 5S has 640 by 1136 across 4 in.

Excessive clutter, odd animation and questionable layout; User Interface element after UI element of extensive variety vie for screen space with iOS. By comparison, the Microsoft Design Language has Windows Phone not nearly as crowded through typography and concealing everything but the necessities in the ellipsis on the application bar which further is often minimized. In addition, when you tap the ellipsis, you reveal the text of the application bar symbols and/or the menu animates in from beneath over the current page as opposed to iOS where you have to learn the cryptic symbols by trial and error or the text is always there and opening a menu by swiping or tapping a UI element will animate the menu inconsistently from various directions and with various appearance, while having you leave the current page into another or bump the current page to the edge, loosing context and continuity. A Windows Phone app often has pan, through Pivot and Panorama, of which to flick or swipe horizontally, which is coherent and implies a continuity to the app as opposed to iOS and separating the app section over section, each, often rearranging layout and adding and/or subtracting UI elements.

A UI element such as an icon with iOS, is rather a symbol with Windows Phone, which are more recognizable and uniform. Windows Phone has various sized Live Tiles or Live Apps, continually animating and updating, rather than the small, static and esoteric icons of iOS, e.g. the psychedelic Photos Icon as opposed to the WP Live Tile that animates elegantly between your recent photos or photos you have assigned as favorites. Or the iOS icon with translucent bubbles of various color representing Game Center as opposed to the WP Live Tile that animates charmingly between a symbol of an Xbox controller, the Xbox logo and your quirky 3D avatar, et cetera. I’ll elaborate on this further beneath the Icons and Live Tiles heading. There is straightforward text in a readable and recognizable font of adequate size throughout with WP, and while iOS 7 does mimic WP somewhat, it is nonetheless secondary in this regard. To my knowledge, elderly or those uninitiated to the concept of a smart phone favor Windows Phone. As do I, considering the efficacy and efficiency of it. Swipe rather than fidget; Movement rather than restriction. The minimalism and focus does accomplish additional productivity and gratification. Windows Phone is broad and spacious.

A screenshot of the iOS 7.0.4 Home Screen.

Photos (Bilder) and Game Center icons.

A screenshot of the Xbox Live Games Hub Live Tile.

The Xbox Live Games Hub Live Tile (iOS Game Center equivalent) at four different stages of animation.

Consistency

Revisit shortly.

On-screen keyboard

Revisit shortly.

Icons and Live Tiles

Revisit shortly.

Lock screen and Home/Start screen

Revisit shortly.

Apps

Revisit shortly.

Notification Center

Revisit shortly.

Performance

The iPhone 4 has a 0.8 GHz ARM Cortex-A8 CPU and a PowerVR SGX 535 GPU (Apple A4 SoC) while the Lumia 920 has a 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Krait CPU (Snapdragon S4 MSM8960 SoC) and an Adreno 225 GPU. The Lumia 520 has a Qualcomm Krait CPU too, although a 1.0 GHz MSM8227 SoC with the Adreno 305 GPU, thus, the iPhone 4 is out-of-date, hence, the intent is not to scrutinize the Apple iPhone 4 as a device, rather, it’s an appraisal of the iOS operating system alongside the Windows Phone operating system as a reference. Refer to Anandtech for additional technical specifications and benchmarks. I have to remark that WP8 Update 3 on an entry-level Lumia 520 is unequaled in continuousness and responsiveness to iOS 7.0.4 on the iPhone 4, while both have 512 MB RAM and use the ARMv7 architecture. The iPhone 4 is single-core while the Lumia 520 is dual-core. Nonetheless, Windows Phone 8 Update 3 on the low-end Lumia 520 does run as effortlessly as iOS 7.0.4 on the high-end iPhone 5S. This is particularly apparent while in a scroll of an image or video feed which is simultaneously loading, e.g. Instagram, 500px and Vine. The fluidity and refinement of Windows Phone is unequaled even though Apple does maintain a remarkable SoC.

iOS 8 and Windows Phone 8.1.1 (8.1 GDR 1)

Revisit shortly.

Conclusion

Revisit shortly.

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An easy-to-read review of the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop

Trial and error

I love the Logitech Wireless Solar Keyboard K750 and the Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse. Having established that, I was looking for something ergonomic. At first, I tried the Microsoft Sculpt Comfort Keyboard and Microsoft Sculpt Comfort Mouse. While they were OK, they weren’t very ergonomic at all. Typing and using a mouse a lot, my wrists feel fatigued after very long sessions. The keyboard keys didn’t feel as good as the K750 either, and the separate mouse didn’t come with a transmitter. Using the ICIDU USB Mini Adapter, which is Bluetooth 2.1 and USB 1.1, Windows 8 couldn’t find the mouse. With the Trust Bluetooth 4.0 USB adapter, the mouse was found, but frequently lost the connection for some reason. I also recently used a new Logitech B110 mouse while waiting for something interesting to be released. It stopped working after just a few months. I guess you get what you pay for.

This is where the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop comes in.

The Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop sitting on my desk.

ASUS PB278Q, Asus Xonar Essence One and Audio Pro Addon T8 as a reference.

A closeup of the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop.

Micro (Macro) soft and Bokeh courtesy of the Nokia Lumia 920.

The Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop character layout.

A closer look at the keyboard character layout.

A closeup of the mouse.

Windows and back button on the mouse.

The Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop viewed from the side.

View from the side with the Sennheiser HD650 far off.

The keyboard

The Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop keyboard is unconventional looking to say the least. It has a separate part to optionally place the keyboard onto, to get an elevation to the wrist pad if you prefer. A fantastic little detail is that it snaps into place with magnets. When I placed my hands as they should, the wrists relaxed to the point that I just sat there like that for a while. It was that comfortable and natural. At first, the typing speed and spelling accuracy fell far below acceptable, but once I got used to it, it was lovely. The curvature and tilt together with the feel of the wrist pad is wonderful. It also has that premium feel to the keys like the K750 which the Sculpt Comfort Keyboard lacks. I do miss the battery free ease of the K750 but the mechanical switch of the Windows 8 function keys make up for it. As I mostly use the custom function keys I can leave the switch there and flip it whenever I need the traditional function keys instead of holding a function key depressed back and forth.

A pet peeve with the keyboard is the upper most row of keys. They are both smaller and don’t have the same premium feel to them. I often miss the escape key because of this. Somehow, I occasionally hit the Insert key instead of the Enter key and additionally miss the arrow keys. The Enter key and arrow keys are a bit small, but its probably because of the confined key spacing akin to a laptop keyboard.

The mouse

Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop mouse is very comfortable although I was skeptical at first. The thumb rests comfortably in the indentation, where you also have the Windows button to go to the start screen on top, and on the side you have a back button, barely visible. The battery compartment underneath is easily opened as the lid is held by magnets, but still firm, and it’s the same on the keyboard as well. On the mouse, there is a power switch underneath. On most surfaces the mouse has a nice glide to it. The scroll wheel is fairly standard, but good, and is also a middle mouse button. The right and left mouse buttons are also fairly standard, but nice.

Numeric keypad

The separate numeric keypad is great, and leaves all that extra space on the desk. If and when I need it, I just reach for the drawer and get it out.

Conclusion

What I also like is that all three, the keyboard, mouse and numeric keypad, use the same included transmitter. Quick and easy connection with no lag. The mouse is instantly active when switching the mouse on after being turned off. I couldn’t recommend the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop more whole heartedly. Love it.