Windows Phone Needs A Better App Experience

Reviewing the Nokia Lumia 900 reminded me of just how bad the app experience is on Windows Phone 7. I already knew that I wouldn’t be able to find equivalents for every iPhone app, but I hoped that Microsoft tried to emulate the iOS App Store experience for updating apps.

Sadly, updating Windows Phone apps isn’t a good experience.

Windows Phone 7 apps

This issue first occurred after Rowi 2.0 was announced in the Marketplace. I kept searching the Marketplace for Rowi to see what version number was available. For the first day the only version available was version 1.5, which I already had installed.

The next day I checked the Marketplace again, and found that version 2.0 was finally available. Sadly, the only button that appeared for me on the bottom of the screen was “share” because the app was already installed.

Windows Phone expected me to wait for the Marketplace live tile to tell me when the update was available to me. Because I’m impatient and was hoping Rowi would finally be the great Twitter app I knew it could be (it still isn’t), I had to uninstall the app and reinstall it just to get the update. That means I had to input all of my account info and set my preferences in the app again.

Why would anyone want to do that? When Windows Phone first came out, Microsoft advertised it as an OS that would let you “get in, out, and on with life,” which could be why users aren’t notified of updates as they happen.

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But there are power users who want to use Windows Phone. Those users, like myself, should have an option to check for updates on all apps whenever they want. They shouldn’t have to wait for the OS to tell them when they can update their apps.

Such an option wouldn’t be ideal, but it’d be better than having to uninstall and reinstall apps after searching for them in the Marketplace. The better model would be to just check as soon users open the Marketplace, like iOS does it. The ideal situation would be the Android method of auto-updates, as long as they happen as soon as, or very shortly after the updates are available.

If users don’t mind waiting for updates to populate on the Marketplace live tile, that’s fine. But, when app updates are available, tapping the app in the list of updates should tell users what updates are available.

In the current model, tapping the name of an app gives users a summary of what the app does. So lets say there’s an update available for the Yammer app (there was last week, which is why I use it as an example). I already know what Yammer does, so giving me a summary is useless.

What I really want to know about the Yammer app is:

  • Is the scrolling better?
  • Is the app any faster?
  • Does the message count on the live tile finally work correctly?
  • Is Yammer less broken than it was before?

The Marketplace tells me nothing, because Microsoft didn’t build in the option for a change-log. Users want to know what the updates changed in their apps, not what their apps already do.

Microsoft still needs to work on courting new developers to create better apps for Windows Phone. But it also needs to work on making the experience of getting and updating those apps better for the end-user.

Maybe “Apollo” will bring in those improvements, along with the high spec limitations that are needed to make Windows Phone competitive with phones like the HTC One X and the next iPhone.

Comments

  1. ChanceW says

    Seriously man? This article is so biased and untrue it makes me sick. You call yourself a power user except you obviously have very little experience with Windows Phone. First of all, if you find out about an app update before the phone gets the chance to let you know, all you need to do find it on the marketplace back to the previous screen and return to the app on the marketplace. This forces the phone to check for a newer version and will always give you the option to update if you can. Any “power user” would certainly know this. 
    Also, why does it matter that the phone takes a few hours to push new updates out? Unless you are constantly checking every apps webpage (which would be pointless), you will have no idea that a new update is even available and that your phone hasn’t notified you. 
    It is obvious that you have something against Windows Phone but please just keep your hate under your opinion and stop trying to convince others to share your hatred by claiming your opinion to be the truth. 

  2. Mistawha says

    Chance, and whoever below who agreed must be blind. You just said exactly why he hates the update process, you just switched it to your liking to make it seem easier. But in all honesty both remedys shouldn’t have to happen. Windows market updates suck, and even they know this. Shoot they even mention it on there forums. He isn’t being biased, he’s being honest. I own a dam windows phone and wish I never got myself into this dam contract. The phone is horrendous, and it has nothing to do with the danger update bug. BTW, there is a bug if you acres to look it up.

    • Adas Weber says

      I agre with ChanceW too. The article is actually incorrect. If you want to update your apps, it’s really simple -

      1. Go to Marketplace on your WP7 phone.
      2. Click the option which shows “X updates available”, where X is the number of apps for which there are updates. Then you can either choose to Install All, or install each update individually.

      That’s all you have to do! Nothing else.

  3. Adas Weber says

    I really don’t understand the issue…

    If you want to update all your apps, it’s REALLY SIMPLE…

    1. Go to Marketplace on your WP7 phone.
    2. Click the option which shows “X updates available”, where X is the number of apps for which there are updates. Then you can either choose to Install All, or install each update individually.

    I mean, it really cannot be any simpler than that!

  4. Azbullish says

    You go to apps marketplace and it tells you how many updates you have. You do individual ones or all. That’s it. Seconds. Have an adult check your homework before publishing please.

  5. Billy says

    I just bought Lumia 800 for 2 weeks, and i already start regret that i chosen a window phone instead of Android. The apps market only offer very little apps and most of the famous apps is not available on window apps market for example is Viber, Line, TalkBox, InstantGraph and a lot more! Hope window will offer these apps to the market ASAP!

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