Last week, as I wrapped up from using the BLU Win HD LTE as my daily driver for a week, I shifted to the Samsung Galaxy S4 to use it on a daily basis.
Since I had picked up the MediaDevil Simdevil 3-in-1 SIM card adapter kit and could now put my Nano-SIM into phones which use a Micro-SIM it was now possible to use the S4 with my ATT number as a daily driver.
I have had the S4 around the house for testing Microsoft apps and services since last fall but have never been able to carry it daily because of the SIM issue.
With that issue solved I went ahead and installed just about every Microsoft app I could find in the Google Play Store to gain direct access to services like OneDrive, Outlook, Microsoft Health (MS Band), Microsoft Account, Xbox SmartGlass, Xbox Music, OneNote, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Office Lens, Remote Desktop Client, Bing and Bing Rewards.
Check out all of the Microsoft apps in the Google Play Store.
I was able to access the Microsoft services I use on a daily basis without any problem and in many cases the apps are better than those offered on Windows Phone 8.1.
The universal versions of these apps, some of which we have in preview on Windows 10 Mobile, will bring some parity amongst these offerings, however it is remarkable just how much better some of these are on Android.
For instance, take the Microsoft Account App which is used to provide Two Factor Authentication (2FA) verification when you try to access your Microsoft Account(s). On Windows Phone the app provides a six digit number that you must then type into a form to provide 2FA. On Android, the Microsoft Account app provides a seven digit code for the same purpose but it also has a simple one button verification with a five letter code that can be approved from within Notifications or in the app itself. No need to remember or write down the code between pages, apps, etc.
So after gaining access to all of my Microsoft related services I went off in search of apps that I could use in other areas.
Here are the first party apps I found:
- Navy Federal Credit Union
- VyStar Credit Union
- AMEX Mobile
- USPS Mobile
- FedEx Mobile
- UPS Mobile
- Xfinity Connect
- Samsung Wireless Audio
- TiVo Classic
I was able to find a first party app for each of these elements of my daily life. These apps introduce conveniences such as remote banking/deposits; keeping up with insurance items, package tracking, voice mail and entertainment.
Some might say that I turned in one package tracker for three. However, since I am a member of the services on each of those that tracks my address and alerts me when a shipping label has been created there is no action for me to take for tracking that package as it is automatic.
I have owned the Samsung M7 wireless speakers for almost nine months but there is no Windows Phone app for controlling them and connecting to my music sources. Although Samsung has been promising an app for a long time it is still vaporware. Since using the S4 as a daily driver this past week I have used these speakers more than I did in the last six months because of the app.
Next I turned my attention to apps that can help me in my daily work related routine. This usually includes writing, monitoring/using social media, and reviewing my 130 or so RSS feeds to share items to Twitter.
I dove into the Google Play Store and found these first party apps:
With these apps I am able to manage all aspects of my daily work and the last two, which are unavailable on Windows Phone, are allowing me to bring in other ways to interact with social media followers. That is something I have been wanting to do since these services hit the market.
The S4 was on Android Kit Kat and I updated it this week to Android Lollipop without any problems. Each upgrade from AT&T, it took three cycles because they only let you check for updates once every 24 hours, went smoothly and all of my data and apps made the transition during each upgrade process.
Since I am experiencing all of the above on a device that came out over two years ago in April of 2013 this is not about the device itself or its performance which is middle of the road.
It is actually about the experience of using the first party apps to connect areas of my daily life when I am on the go. The phrase mobility of the experience, which Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella is fond of saying these days, is exactly what this is all about.
In fact, the convenience of having access to everything I do in one place has resulted in something that has even surprised me. I have been comparison shopping between Android flagship phones the last few days.
The other thing that has surprised me is that I have decided to make my next phone an Android device for at least one upgrade cycle. I want to now add the performance and a higher end camera to my experience with the apps. However, I do plan to cycle back to Windows 10 Mobile on a personal device once this upgrade cycle is over.
After incessantly reading reviews over the last few days I have come down to picking between the Samsung Galaxy S6 or the LG G4 as my new device. I am leaning towards the G4 because AT&T, my carrier for the last 11 years, is offering a 32GB microSD card, extra battery and a battery charging cradle with the purchase of the G4 as a free bonus package.
The reviews have been pretty good as well but the extra gear is a nice bonus.
As a long time Windows Phone user this has been a very strange week.
I honestly did not expect this experience to be like this and it goes to show that it is important to keep an open mind about tech. It is OK to be a fan and support your product of choice but always be willing to look at your options.
This is also not an abandonment of the Windows Phone platform. I am not stomping away mad and irritated about Windows Phone or its lack of a new flagship device or first party apps.
In fact, I have always been a fan of the third party developers on Windows Phone who endeavor to properly bring us apps for some of these services. They put a lot of effort in that and have built some terrific apps and I respect them for their efforts.
There is one final thing I have to say about choosing tech, and this is not the first time I have said this on the site, is that your tech is your tech.
Who am I to judge you for those choices?
Of course – much more to follow on this one!