It’s been a crazy weekend for those using Windows Phone 8 – or those interested to get into the fledgling OS. There has been a several pieces of interesting news related to Microsoft’s latest darling, one of which is good, while the rest might well shape the future of Redmond’s attempt at penetrating the smartphone industry.
First up, a new old app popped up at the Windows Phone Store. The massively popular Whatsapp messaging app has finally made a return to the platform, after being pulled off the Store some time ago due to performance issues. The update seems to perform much better than the WP7.5 version, with faster load times. Unfortunately, support for the Whatsapp emojis seem to be missing, although that could be coming in a later update. You can download the app from the Windows Phone Store here.
However, Google decided that this was the best time to drop its bombshell on WP8. First, it announced that they have no plans for developing its suite of apps for Windows Phone 8. Yep, that means no Gmail, Google Maps, Drive, and (cue gasp) YouTube. According to Google Apps’ product management director, Clay Bavor, the company will only develop apps where the users are, and “users are not on Windows Phone or Windows Phone 8”. Ouch. The good thing is, Bavor did indicate that they may change their stance should the user base on Windows Phone 8 increase.
At first sight, that does sound promising. But Google’s final statement released over the weekend is a body blow to those heavily invested on Google products. The company has announced that it will end support for the Exchange ActiveSync protocol for new devices starting from January 30th of next year, with the exception of corporate account holders. Basically, the EAS protocol allows for push email notifications, as well as easy syncing with other Google services, such as calendar and contacts. While iOS and even MeeGo-Harmattan have native support for CalDAV and CardDAV for syncing Google calendar and contact entries, Windows Phone 8 does not, leaving the WP8 platform groping in the dark. The only solution for consumers at present is using IMAP connection to Gmail, but that is one that will definitely not suffice for working professionals as it does not support push and at the fastest setting only syncs every 15 minutes.
This may seem to be a small housekeeping move by Google, but is actually a huge dent on the Windows Phone platform. In the simplest of terms, Google is making it even more difficult for Android users to switch to the competition, namely Windows Phone. Microsoft now have six weeks to decide and execute a workaround; either way, this ecosystem war is not helping the consumer in any way.