Jul 062011

First read this, which I posted back in 2009 (i.e. before iOS4 and multitasking was available on the iPhone) at my old blog.

I was quite certain that since the launch of the original iPhone, crippled multitasking would be a thing of the past on new devices/OSs. But this post (how’s that for history repeating itself?) then reminded me just how utterly useless Windows Phone 7 is in its current state.

But just when I thought that it could not get any sadder I came across this post about the multitasking in the upcoming Mango. Here is the relevant part for your convenience:

“You’ll be able to have up to 5 apps open and “multitasking”, and once you open a new application, the last app will be bumped off your multitasking list. That’s probably a perfect number for everyone, and will definitely help keep the operating system running smoothly.

And further down in the comments section by the same author:

“If you let an app sit in the multitasking section for awhile (like 3 minutes), it’ll tombstone and not be instantly resumed anymore. So it works fine as long as you’re switching between things quickly and frequently, but don’t expect to instantly jump back to a game after a few minutes!”

If true, that is just so wrong (read “pathetic”) on so many levels I don’t know where to even begin: the fact that a “modern” OS in 2011 still does not have multitasking; that people actually buy such a device at all; that when MS finally do come with a “solution” it is not even half baked (as in iOS); the arbitrary number of 5 apps that can “run” simultaneously (as opposed to the number being based on available RAM memory, though some WP7 users think that the criteria for that number should be based on the name “WP7”; he’s lucky MS did not chose the name WP1 then…); the author of the post jumping up and down in excitement because he will get multitasking on his WP7 device; the fact that the author even matter-of-factly states that the number 5 will be absolutely perfect for everyone(!); the author’s ignorance when he implies that multitasking will necessarily degrade the user experience on any phone (or maybe he just means WP7, but what does that say about the OS then?).

God forbid Windows Phone ever becomes the dominant OS, what with such followers/users and such poor OS design that it apparently cannot efficiently handle a reasonable number of concurrent process without noticeable slowdowns.

Oh, and if you have not been able to deduce so yet, I will not be buying a WP7 phone in the foreseeable future (again, if that post is true – it is such a poor implementation of multitasking that I am doubting whether the author is correct), whether it is from Nokia or any other maker; it is apparent that Windows Phone 7 and phones based on it will remain on my ‘What’s not’-list for a long time still….

  9 Responses to “A reason alone not to buy WP7 even with Mango”

  1. wow, that’s really bad, was not planning to buy a WP7 phone anyway, but that is really, really bad.

    Only 5 apps, no way to manage apps and shut them down fromthe multitasking window, … WF7.

    The whole WP7 beginning with the oversized Vogue magazine text is a fail.

    • Like I said in the post, I am almost doubting the veracity of that preview because it simply is so extremely poor, and am thinking that maybe it’s only a Mango beta-thing. But then again it comes from a WM site so they should know…

      Regarding the WP text, I take it you mean this.

  2. Have you even used Mango? I have both an SG2 and iPhone running iOS5 beta 3 and WP7 is just better than both. Better battery life on older hardware. The “multitasking” actually rocks because it can be simple. No crapware to manage tasks, no useless icons like iOS. It isn’t perfect but it is very damn good.

    • No, I have not used Mango. But I don’t think I would need to use it to come to the conclusion that a) it doesn’t have real multitasking (which you yourself imply with your quotes) and that b) as such, I would very likely not be happy with it given that I am already struggling with iOS which seems to be less restrictive in that particular area than WP (I say “seems” because WP background apps can get a few seconds of CPU time, though I can’t remember the details right now, going to need to look that up again…). In my book solid multitasking is simply a must in 2011 (and before) in any smartphone, and with all the available options out there is really no reason to settle for anything less (which is why I can’t wait to get my hands on an N9).

      I agree that Android’s task managers, though unnecessary in theory often seems to be a requirement in real life given the processes that run amok sometimes and, as such, is something that definitely should be improved. As I wrote in another post, I don’t mind simple icons (in iOS style) if it allows me to see more “apps” in any given screen – in fact I prefer it over WebOS type of display because it [WebOS type cards] can lead to a lot of swiping to go back to an open app (though that’s not really going to be an issue with Mango, what with the maximum of 5 cards). But while we are on the subject, and given that you use Mango, can you confirm that multitasking in Mango does in fact work as stated in that article (i.e. maximum of 5 cards + the 3 min limit)?

      Oh, and you are the first WP7 user who have commented on my blog who seemingly don’t feel attacked by WP7 criticism and has not resorted to, or included, insults or cussing in your reply; nice to be able to have a civilized discussion for a change :)

  3. Pity you found that article and stopped looking, when there’s others with better information

    The task switcher is largely fake anyway – when you open a new application, the state of the current app is saved and it remains in memory, but it does no work at all. It’s really not that different from how WP7 does it today – except that you can see the last few apps instead of simply going back to each one in turn, and they resume much faster. (That’s where the three-minutes thing comes in (no idea if that time is correct but let’s go with it); it will still remain as it was next time you open it, anyway.) The number there isn’t set in stone – MS have said they’ll reconsider it if necessary – but I personally have never been working with that many simultaneously on my phone so I’d never have a problem with it. If you do, you can just launch them again from the list/voice/whatever and if it’s coded decently it will still be how it was when you left it.

    Not to mention that merely having a back button solves a good majority of ‘multitasking’ issues where you don’t need to do two things at once, but just interrupt one task for another. To use your old example – start writing a calendar task, check something in the messaging app, hit the back button and the calendar re-opens exactly as you left it with your task half-written, even down to keyboard focus and cursor position. Sending an email to meet up with someone, check the weather forecast, back to your half-written email. Looking at movie times, search for coffee nearby, back to the movie times. Etc.

    In the link above, it refers to the actual multitasking which from user’s point of view works identically to the iPhone – and in a similar method with various background tasks that can do specific things, separate from the application itself (although sharing the data). There’s two different types of background tasks – a periodic task that runs for 15 seconds every half-hour, and resource-intensive tasks that run for up to ten minutes and can use much more of the phone but will only run if e.g. the phone is plugged in to power, has a fast network connection and isn’t being used. These can do just about anything (as long as they keep within the set limits). There are also built-in methods for common multitasking issues like file transfers, audio playback and alarms/reminders (if there’s a need to launch an app or specific part of the app at a certain time – as long as the person using the phone allows it, anyway). There’s technical details on all that kind of thing around here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff402551(v=VS.92).aspx

    Mango is still being developed (and again – pretty much all the numbers here are open to change before final if they decide to) and this kind of detail is kind of only relevant to developers… the whole point is that to the user it just works, everything is instant, apps can get stuff done in the background and there isn’t the downside of terrible battery life and having to manually control what’s running (although you will be able to allow/deny the WP7 background tasks if you want/need to).

    So wow, that was a bit longer than I was planning to do. Sure, it’s not true multitasking as Android has and if you consider that the best then WP7 multitasking can’t compete, but it’s a very good compromise IMO. (As for disliking the switching UI… all I can say is that you can’t please everyone!)

    • (Sorry for the late reply)

      Good post!

      Thanks for the link and saving me the time of looking for the details again! But it doesn’t really change anything that was said in the article I linked to – as you yourself said, WP7’s “task switcher is fake”. Also, let’s not get hung up on only the number of running apps when we talk about multitasking: remember the example I gave of Spotify. And there is another use case with the iPhone: on the iPhone and any of its alarm apps, you can’t wake up by an mp3 file in your music library unless the alarm app is running (i.e. you have to turn off your phone “inside” the app), and that is direct consequence of the lack of real multitasking (and to make matters worse, when you do leave the alarm app running it drains about 20% of the battery during the night because it seems to be literally running). I am sure similar scenarios will appear on WP7 as result of that “fake” multitasking. And even if the only benefit in WP7 is that resuming the app is much quicker (a la iOS) during that “3 min” window, then surely that alone should be a reason to not timeout after a few minutes; trust me, you WILL run into situations where the consequence of that WP7 “multitasking” rears its ugly head.

      But rather than Android I would consider WebOS, along with the N9/MeeGo/Harmattan (based on videos/previews and the platform itself) the best/most efficient multitasking implementations. But they also prove a greater, more important point: that “real” multitasking does need to have a negative impact on the overall performance of the device; the problem with Microsoft is that they instead are obsessed with copying iOS, and when you add to that their experience from the old WM where the performance would degrade seemingly exponentially from the number of open apps, they have opted for an overly defensive, and extremely limiting, implementation, and it does not speak very well of the OS itself.

      And regarding the WebOS style card view: if you have a dozen open apps (which is a walk in the park for a Pre 2), I can assure you you’d quickly get tired of swiping back and forth between those open apps (though WP7 has the back button, of course).

  4. Everyone stuck to his opinion as he always did. I will never understand these sterile discussions.
    I own Android (HTC Legend), WM6.5 (Touch Diamond II) and WP7 (Samsung Omnia 7) phones. I do not own iPhone nor will I never because I just can’t accept how Apple is taking you all as milk cows.
    Anyway, from a user experience point of view, no doubt WP7 is “for me” the best mobile OS I ever used (included iPhone OS from 3 to 4 seen and used on friends iPhone). It has indeed some drawbacks (worst for me are the “all in cloud” management, bluetooth management, tethering, locked down system) but from a “normal” user point of view, it remains the best experience.

    I loved my old WM6.5 device but sure it was not responsive enough, although very powerful in terms of what you were being able to do with it (almost everything was possible on WM6.5).
    I like Android but it suffers exactly the same problems as WM6.5 !!!! So amazed so few people are noticing the things both OS have in common !
    Multitasking on Android is the worst thing that ever happenned to Android.
    Live with your phone, installing, uninstalling apps, playing, … and one day, it will just stop working just as WM6.5 used to do !! No prob if you are a poweruser, you will just find how to solve the problem but “Normal” users won’t. Believe me ..

    Now, to conclude all this, would just say to the author of the article to try a WP7 mango device for 1 month and just forget what you know about multitasking or whatever, JUST USE IT for 1 month. And tell me what you think.


    • As long as people don’t take it personal it should be little more than harmless (and hopefully non-sterile) banter, and in the end it boils down to what you yourself are posting: personal experiences and opinions, though some things are certainly more “facts” than “opinions” (e.g. WM was a dog performance wise; Android’s handling of background processes seem to get out of control sometimes; WP7 pre-Mango is utterly crippled even though some WP7 users – I am not referring to you – seem to have a very hard time admitting that).

      Trust me, if/when I get around to using/trying Mango (and as a smartphone fanatic I do of course have that curiosity no matter how much I might bash WP7) I will absolutely post my opinion here, for better or worse.

  5. Why I prefer iOS and can care less if anyone else does. Simple put, it just works for me. Apple has created hands down the best experience in the cynergy created between all its products and coming as a Mac user, iOS just fits in there nice and snug. Now, I do realize other companies in recent years have created their own line of products that work quite well with each other, and for most of your sakes I’m happy it is working out for you. It’s too bad for these companies they weren’t doing it back in my days of frustration which lead me to Apple’s products. Say what you want, you can’t argue they have the best customer experience ratings. They had their sh@t together first, why I switched a long time ago, and whynim still happy today. What works for me works for me. What works for you works for you. Cheers my friends.