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Switching from Android to Windows Phone Part 3: apps Marketplace, Xbox Live, and Google services

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Of course, if you’re coming over from Android, there’s a fair chance that you’ve been living a pretty Googley lifestyle. Your Gmail account won’t be an issue, as WP will pull your contacts, calendar, etc, so there is no reason to need a separate Google Calendar app. The mail app also works well enough for Gmail, although one annoyance is that it only syncs your inbox, so if you have filters set up that skip messages past your inbox, the WP mail app won’t get those. And, messages with extra labels (like bulk or notifications) will be removed from your inbox when deleted, but may still be left unread in those folders in your Gmail. Still, it’s not a big enough issue that you should have to consider changing your e-mail address, which many people dread doing. 

As far as other Google products, it’s a bit hit or miss as you go, because the only official Google app is Search. You can use the mobile websites for various products, but because IE is so terrible, that isn’t always a good option. There are a number of 3rd party options for apps, but the trouble there is that you have to put your trust in the developer to not steal your Google credentials, because all will ask you to put in your login without options for oauth. It may have just been a bad coincidence, but our Google account was compromised for the first time ever while doing this Windows Phone experiment. 

As we said, the only official Google app is Search, and it’s not a great app, but it’s also not terrible. The Bing Search app can be annoying at times because it returns so few results, and results may not be all that relevant to what you want, so the Google Search app is pretty handy to have regardless. 

Switching from Android to Windows Phone Part 3: apps Marketplace, Xbox Live, and Google services
The mobile YouTube site works pretty well, but the best option there is probably the app SuperTube, which is actually pretty great. You can search for, stream, or download HQ or HD videos. There is a very well designed featured panel for discovering new videos. And, best of all you can sign in to your YouTube account, and get access to your playlists, video history, uploaded videos, subscriptions, and has some pretty cool extras. You can record a video and upload it to YouTube, and there is a pretty sweet feature called “Map Tube”, which will find videos recorded near your location. Overall, it’s probably the best Google product app available for WP, and YouTube is the product you’d want to have. 

If you’re big into Google Docs/Drive though, Windows Phone may be trouble for you. There are a couple Google Docs apps available, but neither allows for editing docs, only viewing. However, as we mentioned last time, the Office suite for Windows Phone is one of the shining stars of the platform, and migrating your files from Google Docs/Drive to Microsoft’s SkyDrive is probably one of the easiest transfers you could make, especially now with the new Google Drive apps for Mac and Windows. 

Switching from Android to Windows Phone Part 3: apps Marketplace, Xbox Live, and Google services
For Google Reader addicts, there are a number of apps which will get you your feeds, but the best we’ve found is NextGen Reader. It has all of the standard options you’d want like two-way syncing, starring, options to view articles in IE or mobilize it to read in app, and you can save articles to Pocket (formerly Read It Later), Readability, or Instapaper, and share to Twitter or Facebook. There is even a Live Tile and auto-syncing to let you know when new items are available. It will cost you a couple dollars, but it is definitely worth it. 

One big trouble is with Google Talk. There are a number of instant messaging apps that will allow you to use Google Talk, like Palringo or IM+, but because of the limitations on background processes you may find it difficult to have the clients stay logged in when in the background, so you won’t have that constant connection. As we mentioned before, Facebook chat and Windows Live chat are integrated into the Messaging app, so it may be best to just switch services, because Google Talk can be a bit annoying. 

There is absolutely no way to access Google Music on Windows Phone. No apps and the website is far too advanced for IE’s HTML5 deficiencies. So, if you’re deep into Google Music, you’ll be in the terrible position of having to either download your entire collection (which can be done without limit, but may not be feasible), downloading on the albums you want (which has a 2 download limit via Google Music), re-purchase your music (a terrible option), or giving up your collection and just using Spotify (not a bad way to go.) 

There is no Google+ app, but the website works well enough. There is also no option for Google Books, but the Amazon Kindle app is pretty nice. The Google Books website is at least functional in IE, but by no means ideal. 

If Bing Maps doesn’t do it for you, there is actually a pretty solid Google Maps app, simply called gMaps. It includes all of the goodies that Bing doesn’t have like public transit directions, a weather, or public transport layer, and partial Latitude integration. Partial in that you can update your location, and check friends’ locations, but you can’t check in at places. And, really, Latitude and public transport directions are really the only reasons to use gMaps over Bing Maps, because as good as gMaps is, there is a lot missing. Places have to be searched, and you can’t just tap a place you see, and there’s no Street View. 

Lastly, and maybe the biggest is Google Voice. Google Voice is a great service, and one of the killer apps for Android. You certainly won’t get the same integration on Windows Phone, and using your Google Voice number as your primary for making calls is possible, but not ideal. The best app we’ve found is GoVoice, which will allow you to make calls, and send and receive texts. Making calls is easy enough, although there’s no call history, so it can become cumbersome to have to go into your contacts constantly to make calls. The best option may be to only use your Voice number for international calls. Unfortunately, setting up push notifications for texts is also pretty annoying, so it may be best to set up SMS forwarding in Google Voice. This way, your SMS messages will be sent to your phone in the stock Messaging app, and you can reply right from there and it will be routed through Google Voice. 

Conclusion

Overall, there are plenty of apps in in the Windows Phone Marketplace to keep you going, and the games can be exceptional, especially considering the hardware limitations of Windows Phone devices. Most of the major apps that you might want exist or have an unofficial options that will get you what you need. And, of course, the Marketplace is growing quickly. 

Remaining a Google user when switching to Windows Phone is certainly possible, and if the platform continues to grow, it’s likely that we’ll see more and more Google products make it to the Marketplace, but right now it can be a struggle. Gmail and calendar are easy enough to integrate; YouTube, Maps, and Reader have quality alternatives, but other products like Voice, Talk, Music or Docs don’t have great alternatives, and may be best to leave behind in favor of other services. 

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posted on 31 May 2012, 21:50

1. demarmj (Posts: 17; Member since: 03 May 2012)


I have mixed feelings about this...You're right that there are quite a bit of apps that are around 3-5 dollars. There are a few apps that I wish were on there like Zynga games (words with friends etc)...most apps I used on android have solid alternatives...again I wish there was a battery shortcut app...what's nice to read is that Microsoft is doing all it can to pay companies to develop solid apps while getting its user's opinions in some countries. Only time will tell, again I remember in the early days of android when the number of apps was a problem, and in just a short period of time, they were surpassing everyone, so i'm excited to see what the future has to offer (can't be worse than BB that's for sure :-P )

posted on 31 May 2012, 21:53 1

2. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


OK,
So... on a 1 - 10 scale, how would you rate WP7 from your experiences? 1 being horrible, 5 being so/so (equal good and bad), and of course 10 being super awesome.

posted on 31 May 2012, 22:01

3. demarmj (Posts: 17; Member since: 03 May 2012)


6.5-7...it's solid...it's not flawed...it won't breakdown...but in no way does it have the functionality or apps as seen on android and ios...however...that doesn't make it horrible, just needs to mature a little bit like all early platforms...I would say a little better than so/so imho.

posted on 31 May 2012, 22:46 12

4. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2649; Member since: 26 May 2011)


For me personally, I'd probably give WP7 about a 7 or so, iOS would get a 6.5 or so, Android 4.x is around an 8.5, Android 2.3 is a 7.5, and BB is a 3.

Of course, if I rank on a scale of 1-10 based on how likely I'd be to suggest a platform to someone not so tech savvy, iOS and WP7 would probably be ahead of Android, and BB would still be dead last by far.

posted on 31 May 2012, 22:49

6. 09wbd03516 (banned) (Posts: 140; Member since: 30 May 2012)


micheal, why do you rate BB so horrible? Could you explain??

posted on 31 May 2012, 22:59 5

7. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2649; Member since: 26 May 2011)


Admittedly, I haven't used the Torch or any touchscreen BB, but I just think the system is a relic. I hate the hardware. Apps are expensive and not that good. And, the system offers little of value. BBM seems to be the only useful thing that RIM has. Basically, the smartphone world has evolved, and left BB behind in my opinion. It's a shame too, because BB used to be ahead of the curve.

posted on 01 Jun 2012, 07:17 1

14. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


your not missing anything with the torch/bold touch. when using it, im so used to not having a touch screen, the only time the touch screen actually became useful was for P2Z in a browser. Touch is an afterthought on that platform, and is treated like such.
Though, you forgot about RIM's bread and butter, BES (Blackberry Enterprise Server) email. Thats where they make their money. And its pretty much the only reason they are still alive as a company.

not so tech savy? hmm.. id probably rank WP7, ICS, iOS, BB. ICS is so easy and has so many "how to's" at start up, you could be Forrest Gump and still figure it out with ease.

posted on 01 Jun 2012, 01:43 4

9. RamyRamz69 (Posts: 390; Member since: 12 Dec 2011)


No Symbian rating?

Bro Y U Racist? :P

posted on 02 Jun 2012, 04:09

26. jroc74 (Posts: 4720; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)


About tech saavy....

My kids mother is very non techy. She browses the web, listens to music, use the Youtube app, plays games, texts, makes calls, takes pics, uses Netflix, use turn by turn navigation.

If thats considered tech saavy.....lol. Android can be as simple as any other phone. The kicker? Me and her were lost when she got her iPhone 4. We both got lost with that one button setup and how to navigate the Settings area. She thought you needed to get a Bluetooth app to use Bluetooth. I had to go online to find where Bluetooth settings were.

We were both used to it being in Wireless and Network Settings...on Win MO and Android. She also made the decison she doesnt like ICS...she keeps declining the update on her Nexus S. She tried it before. .

Guess which phone was harder for her to use GPS on....lol.

I really dont think Android is a complicated as some of us make it out to be....and iOS isnt as easy as some of us make it out to be...

Simple or complicated depends on how we use our phones. What we are used to.

posted on 31 May 2012, 22:46 4

5. 09wbd03516 (banned) (Posts: 140; Member since: 30 May 2012)


I would rate, AFTER the wp8 released...

posted on 01 Jun 2012, 04:44 2

11. denied911 (banned) (Posts: 361; Member since: 31 May 2012)


8-9 if you are blonde girl with no brain
6 if you are older person with need of bigger font
4,5 average user who like to set whole long mp3 to ringtone and like to do with files whatever he pleases
2- if you average poweruser, customization root but no rom swapping
1- if you are poweruser and like to customize roms and do everythink

posted on 01 Jun 2012, 06:32 2

13. haseebzahid (Posts: 1801; Member since: 22 Feb 2012)


well for ur last 2 rating are for nerds who are never satisfied with what they have

posted on 01 Jun 2012, 07:18 1

15. denied911 (banned) (Posts: 361; Member since: 31 May 2012)


on and BTW for advanced business solutions it is like 1,5
I am very satified with Android and i am in 2 rating

posted on 01 Jun 2012, 10:48

16. haseebzahid (Posts: 1801; Member since: 22 Feb 2012)


ok this comment is general for all articles of WP i ever seen ......................................>The thing is android has made people big time braggers of how much customized phone they have while everyone know its the feature of android they still dont shutup telling that and they goes to articles that is mostly not releated to android at all and start their stupid comment war of customization and what the point of visting other articles "just to bash"
secondly they will start more stupid specification bragging war which in current timeline is not even utilized correctly for example i can run a developer suit etc.. on dual core PC makes sence and what is android utilizing it for "games songs,maps,tiny softwares"is that it.tell me that when u have some real appication ruinng on the dual/quad core, so my Conclusion is Android guys are mostly retards with nothing left to do in their life but to bash others which is actually a mentle level of 10 years old kid

posted on 01 Jun 2012, 11:58 1

18. denied911 (banned) (Posts: 361; Member since: 31 May 2012)


@haseebzahid
you suck man, even Symbian has descent customization options, sometimes bigger than android for example in menu you can put whatever app or settings wherewer you want

posted on 02 Jun 2012, 01:31

24. haseebzahid (Posts: 1801; Member since: 22 Feb 2012)


my point exatly i know all that stuff u guys dont have to tell it over and over again thats the whole point of my post u noobs tell the same old story that everyone know while i never said it is good or bad i was pointing at the cutomers who always brag about it technology is good no matter where it is coming from u guys need to get a life and stop bragging

posted on 02 Jun 2012, 02:00

25. haseebzahid (Posts: 1801; Member since: 22 Feb 2012)


I love WP due the fact it has given totally different OS with new ways to think off since the Android/IOS/Symbian they all look quite similar. WP gives us ready to use System for not scewing it up so i can use moblie to optimum performance like ANDROID which stats "we are too lazy to FIX or optimize all android phones for the OS so do it ur self and dont bother us this is open system"
yeah right this is the customization u are talking about except most expensive Android phone u always have to work for ur phone to be optimized lame workaround arguments. although the OS is fine from other espects. this costimzation is nothing if u are uncertain will it work after scewing up or customizing

posted on 02 Jun 2012, 04:19 2

27. jroc74 (Posts: 4720; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)


Same can be said of some fans of ANY mobile OS. WP7 fans scream smooth scrolling, Live Tiles. iOS fans scream copying, stability, quality of apps.

They both scream simplicity. Which isnt as clear cut really. See my post about about that.

The fanboys dont speak for all users...no matter which mobile OS. So what are iOS fans of WP7 fans that bash others? Have a name for them?

Dual core on phones is about better multi tasking, taxing the battery less doing more.

I see you are lumping all Android users and all Android phones as one. All Android isers arent fanboys and all Android phones arent created equal. WP7 phones will be getting there soon. MS, Nokia decided to put less ram in low end phones. That might cause issues later on.

I dont have to optimize my RAZR...for my wants n needs. It does what I want when I want pretty good. My Droid X1 and Droid 1 were good to. DX1 startedd rebooting when listening to the FM Radio as months went by.

And...no mobile OS is perfect. I can pull up troubleshooting forums for iOS and WP7....

posted on 02 Jun 2012, 12:46

29. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


woah.

im #1, and ive been beyond satisfied with my SGS1. Its time to upgrade it though. :)

posted on 01 Jun 2012, 10:49

17. haseebzahid (Posts: 1801; Member since: 22 Feb 2012)


can u replace ur contract sim for catagory 1,2 huuh

posted on 01 Jun 2012, 12:12 2

19. Penny (Posts: 1096; Member since: 04 Feb 2011)


denied911,

You are a phone power user. Congrats. I am a computer power user. As in real, powerful, productive systems we call desktops, of which I build my own with the latest and greatest components. Some of us REAL power users don't like to waste our time on PSEUDO power devices such as phones.

So, since you went down this road, I'd rate Windows Phone at 7.5 because it has lots of useful features and integration that save me time. You prove nothing by assigning a low rating based on your individual opinion, especially because the very premise of your individual opinion -- that Windows Phone cannot be unlocked and customized -- is false to begin with.

posted on 01 Jun 2012, 12:27

20. denied911 (banned) (Posts: 361; Member since: 31 May 2012)


I also build my own PCs and not only mine
but I like to have freedom and everything in my way so congrats for your statement.

posted on 01 Jun 2012, 14:27 1

21. snowgator (Posts: 3187; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)


Okay, Gator to the rescue:

WP- As MS rebrands itself, tries to find an audience and tries to get manufacturers and developers onboard I am curious how anyone could have done this launch better, with the possible exception of their promotions in the first year. They have supported their devices, vastly improved their product from Win Mo and their original WP7 releases. They have worked fairly hard to get cross-platform support (a huge work in progress), apps in place (well over 100,000 by end of Summer, I am sure), and carrier support (okay, they ain't done real well in that one). For an end user, the product is fantastic.

There are some shortfalls: Some of the advantages of Win Mo surprisingly are still MIA. Bing services are good, but do seem to come up short to Google services. Hardware options such as physical keyboards, different style body types and support from case and holster manufacturers are near non-existent. And the tile/list screen tend to get a little hard to navigate when you have a large amount of apps/shortcuts/tools.

I am a very satisfied, every day WP user. As such, I give it a solid 8.0 on the "remixfa scale".

Android- ICS is an easy to use, polished, and fun system. Accepting that 1) most users do not root, mess with, or change a whole bunch about their phone and that 2) we accept UI's will add some layers of steps to it, I give it a solid 9, willing to go .5 up or down depending on the UI experiences.

On Gingerbread- Android is fairly uniformed, but the grid lists are still tedious and the UI's from most manufacturers really made devices drrrraaaag...... Especially those from HTC, LG, and Sony Eriksson. I will give a solid 8.0 on most sets, 8.5 on devices that got it right (like GS2 and non-Motoblur offerings.)

iOS- Hey, it is what it is. You download those things from the App Store to make it yours, and you take advantage of the "iTunes" integration. I am not super-impressed with the tools involved (Heaven help you if you need spell check, Siri is so overrated) and there are so many other phones with cameras just as good. And, really, people have NO choices as to what type of body style they get. But it is supported, and it is mostly lag free. I give it a 7.5. You really get the ecosystem with iOS, not so much else.

BB07? Hard to use, dull, unimaginative, and spotty support. If you are in need of security, it is STILL light years ahead, and the hardware is mostly good. It lags much less on this Gen of devices than last. I am done giving them an edge with BBM. All other OS's are on par with it, a d work across all other messaging. 4.5 on the "remixfa scale".

No experience with Symbian. I will give it a 7.0 simply because it is a cool name and I like hepresearch.

posted on 01 Jun 2012, 00:21 6

8. jtech (Posts: 101; Member since: 14 Jul 2011)


Windows Phone a 8.5 and android a 6.9

posted on 01 Jun 2012, 03:31 1

10. PhansMuneeb (Posts: 345; Member since: 28 Jan 2012)


Well done PA, great reviews and yes the lowest price for xbox live games has been reduced to $1.
Waiting for wp8.........!

posted on 01 Jun 2012, 06:22

12. Bluesky02 (Posts: 1439; Member since: 05 Dec 2011)


I would give it 6.5/10. And this is one of the reason we should wait for the 3rd major version of windows phone which is Apollo - Windows Phone 8. However, not a bad OS for a second major version.

posted on 01 Jun 2012, 14:46 2

22. snowgator (Posts: 3187; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)


M.H.- I want to thank you. A very honest three-part series as seen from a man who preferred his Android experience (and probably bumped right back to his Google powered cell phone as soon as he could switch his card from the Radar he was using). This could have very easily been a hatchet job. Instead, you laid out what a satisfied Android user could expect from Windows Phone right now.

WP has a ton to offer- and a lot to improve on. Yes, IE is a limiting experience right now. Yes, you will lose some app selection, especially local apps in your city/ communities, that are exclusively iOS or Android right now. There are some specialized tools that are not available, and the experience is the same from one device to the next.

But WP is doing it right. They are focusing on the social aspects of mobile, making it easy to update in this day and age of media. They are focusing on performance, what their OS does it does seamless. They are focusing on support. And they are long term in the ecosystem- unifying all your user aspects.

Right now, A droid lovers may not have reason to really switch. There are just too few advantages over Google. There a number of things they do a little better, a few things they do as well, and a bunch it is still lacking. But, anyone not happy with Android, iOS, or BBOS should consider it. It is a fantastic experience.

posted on 01 Jun 2012, 16:54 1

23. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2649; Member since: 26 May 2011)


I really liked my time with WP7, and I would certainly recommend the system to others. In a lot of ways, I like it better than iOS, even though it lacks the maturity or the app ecosystem. I'm definitely interested in revisiting the platform after the WP8 update and the hardware bump.

That said, I am definitely itching to get back to Android. Although, I will definitely miss the People app from WP7. I've been away from Android for a month, but I'll assume that the ICS People app still doesn't actually get any info from 3rd party services.

posted on 03 Jun 2012, 02:08

30. samiazza (Posts: 6; Member since: 15 Jan 2012)


Unfortunately yes, ICS people app still missing that feature

posted on 02 Jun 2012, 10:48

28. robinhood9421 (Posts: 3; Member since: 25 May 2012)


hey frnds...
need a bit help.how many apps and GAMES are actually free in the market place and xbox live?i am thinkin of buyin lumia 710.are there any cons???????

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