Drifting away from Modern Life


I used Windowsphone exclusively from about 2010 to just a few months ago, My last Lumia 950 got sold on ebay and my regular device is a Nokia 7 Plus. I used Cortana and Bing Maps on Windowsphone and liked the experience of live tiles. Like many people I hate the “grid of icons” experience of both Android and IOS. However, there is no choice. 

As a British user of Cortana I was used to it being less functional than the USA. Until reasonably recently it didn’t understand my route to work because I travel by bus rather than drive. The mapping with Bing was well behind Google. It did the job but often put things on the wrong side of the street etc. With both products I clicked ferociously at the feedback button to correct map errors and improve the experience. I didn’t see much change myself but you can always hope. Suffice to say things were sub-optimal but improving over time. 

Once on Android I put the Microsoft Launcher on and added Cortana as the default assistant. Despite Cortana’s lacklustre performance in general it could read my Outlook appointments and work with my PC. So there was reason to standardise. Cortana isn’t as good. It is really just a voice web search and not a very good one. It is quicker to search on the command line. I could go on with it still not understanding my journey to work but it seems Google Maps does. After a couple of trips it suggests my bus route and tells me about delays. I find this to be extraordinary given that Microsoft is now focused on AI and machine learning. How come Cortana didn’t know this stuff? 

Gradually, on Android, I have found Cortana not to be improving but a step backwards from Windowsphone. The application this week has taken three presses to start. Sometimes it doesn’t start at all unless I restart the phone. 

Google Assistant has now gone back on. Cortana is still there in the launcher but demoted. 

As Microsoft is now talking about “Modern Life” consumers I reflect on the fact that my modern life outside home and work depends on information on my mobile. Usually travel, commuting, payments, search, directions, mapping and photos. I find myself drifting towards Google services that just seem to be doing these things better.

Thinking about Microsoft’s “Modern Life” for consumer. My current feeling is that presently the services consumers use are not the services Microsoft is focusing on. In fact they have slowed development in almost all of them to the point in which consumers have to make extra effort to use less useful services if they want to use Microsoft products on mobile.

If they want to do “Modern Life” then there is a lot of work to do.

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