Mobile phones need to be phones first…

What’s the main purpose of a mobile phone?  Phone calls!  My last conference call opened with one of the primary speakers explaining  that he was late because “Windows Mobile froze while I was entering the meeting ID and I had to reboot my phone”.   Windows Mobile users are probably nodding their heads in sympathy while Symbian (Nokia), PalmOS and iPhone folks are shaking their heads in disbelief.   Microsoft seemingly forgot that phones need to reliably make, well, phone calls.

Misbehaving “third party” applications usually get the blame for Windows Mobile crashes, but the real fault lies in the OS’s architecture.  Application isolation is a fundamental requirement of an OS but Microsoft’s Windows Mobile still has plenty of weaknesses eight years on.   You can choose to avoid third party apps to help avoid their flaws, however, the phone loses much of its appeal then and, even then, it’s still not as stable as dedicated phones!  The iPhone is no saint either but its watchdog does kill hanging processes far more effectively than Windows Mobile. I’ve never had a problem with the iPhone’s Phone app (knocking on wood).   Restrictions against 3rd background apps (aka high cost to license) help to stabilize both PalmOS phones and Apple’s iPhone.  While these restrictions avoid stalled phones, they also limit the platforms’  potential.  Let’s hope that Android and  webOS will do better.


One Response to “Mobile phones need to be phones first…”

  1. Keith Says:

    Palm’s decision to close the door to “hacks” in earlier versions of their operating system helped a lot. In the short term, a lot of people were annoyed that little tweaks like turning off auto-capitalization or changing the behavior of stylus taps in the built-in apps went away; in the long run, though, the devices definitely suffered far fewer reboots.

    If I keep away from the crappy Bluetooth implementation on my Treo 650, I hardly ever see any reboots now. You don’t really notice it until you remember what it was like with HackMaster juggling a dozen or so hacks and having to find the random offender whenever things went awry.

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