The missing pieces

As the review period draws to a close, I have noticed that I have already started to use the Mozart less and less.

In my own view, the make or break for a smartphone operating system is the number of quality apps it has available. “Quality” is clearly a subjective term, and it is unlikely that any two people will want/need exact same things.

I was able to replace some things. For Pulse Mini, I used NewsRoom. For Instapaper, I used InstaFetch. For Reeder I used Flux. For the official Flickr app (which is a terrible app anyway), I used Flickr Manager.

Below is a quick look at some of the apps I use on a daily basis in iOS that I have not been able to find equivalents for in WP7.

Trip view is a Sydney-specific app (as far as I am aware anyway) that pulls in data from Cityrail, Sydney Ferries and Sydney Buses and reformats the timetables into something much easier to read. It also adds the ability to plan trips, either within or across the different modes of public transport.

TripView is the one app I show to anyone I meet who is curious about the iPhone and wants to know what it can do. It has never failed to impress and amaze people. I love TripView. I could not around in Sydney without it. There is no equivalent on WP7.

Pocket Informant
Pocket Informant (PI) is a powerful to-do list/personal reminder/”Getting Things Done” app. I’m terrible at remembering stuff, and the context in which I’m meant to be doing it. PI let’s me set reminders without clogging up my calendar (the iOS really needs a reminder/task list built in) snf lets me look up related tasks, upcoming tasks and overdue items. I haven’t found anything that comes close to the power of PI on WP7.

There’s no Kindle app. In fact there aren’t any decent ebook readers at all. The closest I came was the WP7 app Freda, which loads ebooks onto the via Calibre and is somewhat analgous to Stanza. I already have Kindle on my iPhone, iPad and (until it died recently) my Windows7 laptop. I guess the Kindle will move to WP7 as the platform grows but until then, the ebook reader situation is a little grim.

A decent PDF reader
PDF support on WP7 is dire for something that is an open standard (there are OSI specifications for some versions of the PDF file format). It doesn’t even have a basic built-in viewer. I had to download an official Adobe Reader app instead. There is nothing like Goodreader available, which not only is an excellent .PDF and .doc reader, but can also pull down sources from URLs or log into a number of file storage services (Dropbox, MobileMe, anything WebDAV) and store locally, too.

Oh. My. God. I did not realize how much I used Dropbox until I stopped using the iphone as my primary device. For the uninitiated, Dropbox is a cloud-based file storage service that has an API that lets third party apps and desktop programs access your account. It’s the standard for moving files around within iOS. I can’t live on a platform without Dropbox. It’s actually a little scary how much I have to depend on the service.

And the reverse?
Apart from the games, I have found nothing on WP7 that can’t be replicated, with the exception of the strong games collection. Since I’m not much of a gamer, this isn’t a deal breaker for me. OneNote? Evernote. Word? Office2. QuickDocs. Pages on the iPad. There’s always at least one option, as good if not better.

Apps. Apps are what is going to make or break WP7. It’s not a zero sum game yet so Microsoft has time, but it has a long way to go to catch up.

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