When I was shopping around for a smartphone a few years ago, I didn’t find much to like about Blackberry devices. I looked at both iOS & Android devices and thought the UI & UX was very similar and didn’t impress me. Then I saw Windows Phone 7 at Mobile World Congress and was intrigued. It felt like a TRUE mobile operating system, not an app launcher. The killer feature for me was the app design, what Microsoft was calling “Metro”.
Fast forward to 2013 and things are very different. Android has evolved, drastically. No longer can Windows Phone gloat about Live Tiles; Android’s widgets can do the same. iOS has evolved too, not as dramatically as Android, but enough so that social integration into the OS is no longer just a Windows Phone thing. iPhones have Facebook, Twitter and so on through their OS as well. While these features still seem better on Windows Phone, it no longer separates us from them.
Still, Windows Phone has one killer feature left; Metro. Let’s be clear, Metro is MORE than just flat imagery or tiles. It’s about typography, minimalism, landscape layout and content as the imagery. And there’s more than one way to achieve it. Look at the People hub then look at the USA Today app. Similar and different. One is utilizing black & white, the other, color. One has no background, the other does. All metro apps should be similar in function, but can still be quite different and recognizable on its own. I would never confuse the USA Today app with the Amazon app. Both use metro, but are very different.
Then comes Facebook Beta. An app almost identical to it’s Android & iOS counterparts. One of the hosts of the recent WP Central podcast said the Facebook app does have metro elements… I spit my coffee out when I heard this. He cited the flat look of the graphics as being metro. Again, metro is SO much more than that. While it’s good that OFFICIAL apps are finally making their way to Windows Phone, if they are no longer following the metro design principles, then what separates Windows Phone from the other mobile operating systems?
*Note: I originally published this on WP Central’s forum, but they shoved it into a super thread.