Everything Wrong With Windows Phone 8 Illustrated In One App Update

The Amazon Kindle app for Windows Phone 8 got an update today. It's a good one too, fixing the awful three-sided letterboxing and giving the app a more Metro-y tile. But it's massively late, and it tripped over itself coming out the gate too. In a way, it's a perfect encapsulation of everything wrong with Windows Phone 8 so far.

WP8 was released on October 26, 2012. Today is January 30, 2013. For more than three months, one of the most widely used and important apps on any platform sat there, optimised for the old 800x480 Windows Phone 7 resolution/aspect ratio, looking silly on any new WP8 phone that loaded it. It wasn't alone there, with other notables like Rdio and Epicurious either just recently getting their full WP8 updates or remaining without.

Read that back to yourself. It's insane. Major apps and services are saying to themselves, "Well, our app looks like crap and don't perform quite right on all these new phones coming out, but, hell, it can wait." Because Windows Phone matters — just not enough to actually try. That's not the worst thing, but it's been a tortuously slow crawl constantly threatening to slip into stagnation.

There are more tangible hiccups too. On my phone, and judging from reviews, on a lot of other phones too, the update simply broke the app. I got the notification on the Store live tile that there were app updates for me, got excited when I saw Kindle was one of them, downloaded it, and through the magic of technology, my Kindle app stopped working. Great. Tapping the icon would just boot me right back to the home or app list screens, and the tile on the home screen didn't even change to the new logo. Rebooting the phone gave the app a half-second inside of the app before crashing out; it was fine after uninstalling and re-installing.

That experience isn't quite indicative of WP8 as a whole, which is actually remarkably stable most of the time — more so than you're probably used to, actually. But having used it as my everyday phone since launch, you'll see freeze-ups and OS-level screwups in weird places, under light workloads, which is more or less the opposite of where you see them in iOS and Android. It gives you the sense that you stumbled over a loose wire or a glitch rather than just overloading your device, which is actually way more frustrating.

And you can squeeze all of that out of this one, much welcomed Kindle app update, which gets down to the lesson for WP8 adopters, more or less. The OS is getting there. Slowly. Damn slowly. And even when it gets something good going, it can't help but highlight how far it has to go.


Comments

    Part of the problem was that developers had to make sure their WP7 version was perfect before submitting a WP8 app, as they couldn't submit an older version of the app again. Microsoft have fixed this now by allowing developers to upload a WP7 and WP8 version of the app now.

    I'm now on my second windows phone... and I can't believe Microsoft (a software based company) let this out the door the way it is.
    The software for transferring files to the phone is a travesty... so much so that they suggest using iTunes.
    Podcasts don't appear in the podcast section of the music app, unless you download them from the podcast section of the marketplace... which isn't active in Australia.
    It can't play youtube videos (I've read rumors that this is googles doing, but that sounds like conspiracy theory).

    I'm a fan, I've bought a 'surface', a windows phone and upgraded my laptop to windows 8. I'm sure it will be patched eventually... but damn it's disappointing at the moment.

      What do you mean it cant play Youtube video's? The only things I have ever found that I couldn't play on my Windows Phone from youtube have been live streams of concerts and events.

        I mean I go to Youtube (either through internet explorer or through the MS launched Youtube app) and I receive an error saying '"sorry, we can't play this file on your phone."
        It makes no difference if I've set it to the mobile or desktop versions.

          What phone do you have and have you run all the updates? I know that was an issue with early WP7, but was fixed via software updates a long time ago. I didn't get my WP7 until 7.5 so never experienced this. Has never been an issue with WP8.

          The only files I haven't been able to play are files with content restrictions stopping them from being played on mobile devices, which is the same even on iOS, and live web stream videos through youtube report they can't find the filetype. Regular video's without content restrictions work fine though.

            I'm currently running a HTC 8X... so it is something that's happening with Windows Phone 8.
            I never had this problem with WP7... or 7.5

              I see it happen occasionally when I try to play a video on the Gizmodo site, but otherwise I just use metrotube for any YouTube watching.

                Just tried metrotube... that didn't work either.

                  http://www.telstracrowdsupport.com/t5/Windows-Phones/sorry-we-can-t-play-this-file-on-your-phone-Lumia-920-will-not/td-p/112046/page/2

                  Have you tried a factory reset? Youtube video's are great with mine. Some other sites though don't work so well. Vimeo I'm pretty sure you have to use the Vimeo app to view their videos.

                  @Shaun

                  That fixed it... man you're brilliant.
                  Just brilliant.

          I've never had an issue playing a Youtube video on any of my 3 Windows Phone phones. To be fair, I've not tried to do it more than a handful of times but it's always worked.

            Hes got the same issue a few 'carrier branded' handsets had - which is it didnt get the quick OTA update from Microsoft to fix its 'issues' with google branded services like youtube. While they were busy sorting out the Microsoft / Google love in, the OTA came out and not everyone downloaded it. Carrier branded handsets were a big issue with this, whereas generic models werent (because they depend on Microsoft, not Telstra / Vodafone)

            My Generic 920 downloaded it perfectly, but this 920 Telstra one here wont download the OTA update to fix the problem.

              My Virgin HTC 8S has not had any updates since I bought it but it definitely works.

      Could your last name be part of the problem? :)

    I had the same issue with kindle. Remove the app and reinstall take 2 seconds and solves the issue.
    You can now pin a book to the start screen instead of having to find it in your library every time.

    Only thing still missing is syncing personal files to WP8
    Info from there site:
    "You can view and download stored personal documents from your Kindle Library on Kindle Fire, Kindle Keyboard (with the latest software update, version 3.3), Kindle, Kindle Touch, Kindle for Android (running Kindle app version 3.5 or greater) and Kindle for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch (running Kindle app version 2.9 or greater). Kindle Personal Documents Service is currently not supported on other free Kindle Reading Applications"

    Why oh why has this feature been left out again!

    Kindle looks fine now on my HTC 8S. There is no letterboxing whatsoever.

      And I've never had letterboxing on my 920 - And I use the damn thing every day since my kindle got stepped on when I moved house.

    A late update for Kindle is still better than WP is getting from most major contributors. Many asp available for iOS/Android are either very late coming to WP or missing entirely. I know the Windows Marketplace app count is going up but when banks, retailers and content providers (Google maps on WP?!) are ignoring the format something needs to be done by Microsoft. They need to do it sooner rather than later. I've moved to WP8 because I like the platform but friends and family all ask about the apps when they consider the move and I rarely have anything positive to say in this regard.

      Which banks are ignoring WinPhone? I'm pretty sure every bank but ANZ has a WP app, and last I heard ANZ doesn't have one for Android, either. WinPhone has the best weather app available for any platform and alternatives for every other kind of functionality I can think of. I've certainly never seen an app do anything on another platform that I like that I can't get to work on my WP phone.

        ANZ has one for both iOS and android, I wish they would do one for windows phone but they have said they have no plans for one at the moment, its pretty easy for me just to pin the mobile site to the start screen so theres no real issue there, just would be easier to log in with a pin instead of having to enter all my details. Which weather app do you use?? I couldn't find anything i liked so ended up pinning the weatherzone page to the start screen. Overall I'm happy with mine, the only thing I'm missing is the imessage for sharing pics with my wife without having to pay for mms charges. oh, and Tiny wings, theres some crappy attempts to copy it but its just not the same!!, lucky i still have my old iphone to play that on. lol

          Weather & Surf Australia. It combines Weatherzone data (which comes from BoM) with SwellNet. It is excellent.

        I agree about one point - when an app is produced for WP it can invariably be better mainly thanks to the wonderful OS and live tiles. But there are still some significant gaps in the app store. As they're filled I'm happier and happier that I've been an early adopter and continual supporter - just want to see it all happen a little faster.

          I've never had an issue with apps, even when there were "only" 20,000 of them. In fact, I find I have fewer and fewer apps installed over time, as I realise what a complete waste of space most of them are. Realistically I would probably still use WinPhone even if there was no app store at all because the few apps I do use could be replaced with a tile that points to a website.

    I'm loving my Lumia 920 so far. And the kindle app says in the description to please uninstall the old version first. I have known more than a few big name iOS apps that needed you to uninstall the old version before a larger iteration. It's not even hard to do. I think this is as bad as you are making it out to be.

    Well I've never seen apple having trouble with letterboxing ay... Or trouble with main apps not working well.

    To be honest, I have not had a single issue with anything on my 920. I've heard people complain about battery life but this wipes the floor with my galaxy s2. I can have it at 100% charge still after 5 1/2 hours (sure I haven't taken calls or browsed internet, but its still updating email and Facebook etc.) the user interface is just so clean and nice to use. The only thing that I've got negative to say about wp8 is the lack of google support (really only care about chrome and maybe a Gmail app) and just that some videos on some sites supposedly can't play.

    WP8 is the future.

      +1

      I think maybe 3% of apps I had were upgraded to retina graphics, while the rest all require purchasing the 'HD' versions. While in most cases I wouldn't mind paying a smaller cost for a graphics upgrade, but many of them were $5 apps, and want me to spend $5 again.

      I get about the same battery life with my 920 as I did with my iPhone 4.

    To the author - if you are having that much trouble with your phone, it sounds like you just got a dodgy phone, exchange it for warranty, cos I haven't had any problem at all with stability on my 920.

      Plenty of people are having issues though, apparently they're fixed with the upcoming update, and people who have manually flashed from the Nokia servers aren't having stability issues anymore.

      The interesting thing is, we all think of the 920 Lumia being a flagship model, but the original article doesn't even mention what device it is. It highlights Microsoft can't get all the other manufacturers to work as perfectly. Although when a problem like this occurs on a closed ecosystem device like the iPhone/iOS well that's a major fuck up in my books.

      I cant wait to get my Nokia 920 but too broke ATM..

    the only issue i've had with my WP8 lumia 920 is I had an app that was installing an update, there was an error in the install/download and now the app is broken. can't update, can't uninstall, can't do a damn thing with it. it's just sitting there taking up space.

    It took a bit time to get the update because developer SDK launches after the WP8 phone launches.

    Seriously, does Kyle even understand technology?

    While this article was horrid, I honestly do look forward to reading "The Disgusting WP8 experience as illustrated In One New App Release" by Kyle after someone releases a lemon party app. Because clearly, one 3rd party app defines the whole experience.

    I get the impression from 'bits' of the article that he's not trying to hate on WP8. But does he really need to spew out dumb articles like this? I clicked on it thinking it might be a genuine article about how WP8 ultimately fails an app, due to its flaws\design quirks. And I was interested to read it; But instead I got Kyle's moronic whine. I was in a good mood, but now I am genuinely pissed off.

    I've had a great experience with my Lumia so far, no ‘freeze-ups and OS-level screw-ups’ as Kyle puts it. I'm not saying that it doesn't happen, but it’s far from the ‘standard WP8 experience’ that Kyle makes it out to be. The issues I have had were with apps; while it is annoying, it’s hardly fair to blame Microsoft for shoddy work by 3rd parties who don’t fix their apps. I’d also like to remind Kyle that it’s not something that only happens to WP8 apps. I've had countless apps on my iOS devices that are buggy and have never been updated (and I don’t go blaming Apple), and I've had several iOS app updates that bork the app, which have slipped past and onto the app store. I’d also like to point out that 99% of paid iOS apps were never upgraded to be retina screen compatible, instead requiring a new purchase.

    TL:DR
    Kyle is a dumb dumb.

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