So, my aunt got herself a new phone and wanted some help adding people to the contacts. The phone she bought was the Nokia 520 with the Windows Phone OS and this was my first chance to ever try this OS out actually.
Anyway, being an experienced smart phone user, I had no problems figuring out how to add contacts to the contacts app, but when explaining the steps to my aunt, who is far from an experienced smartphone user, I realized that there were some problems with the UI.
Well, first off, the UI isn't flat, it's super flat. Anyone claiming that iOS7 is similar to Windows Phone is drunk. Everything is so flat that nothing looks like a hit target. You have learn what you can click and why. iOS7 is more flat than earlier iOS and for new smartphone users (of which there are millions every month) this could be a problem actually.
But, iOS still uses actual labels on their hit targets, where Windows Phone 7 has very few actual labels. And in place of labels, they have archaic symbols for them.
This is a screen of me editing my contact information. At the bottom of the phone there are six icons in the same size and having the same target size. None of these have any label. In Web Design (or UI design) this is called "Mystery Meat".
And, as you can see, the symbol used for "save" on a Windows Phone in 2013 is the 1980 symbol of a floppy disk. I have no idea what version of Windows Phone she had on this one, and perhaps this has been fixed, but trying to explain to my aunt that "save" was the same as tapping this round icon with a square in it with some white bits...
I then learned that tapping the three dots (another mystery meat UI part) would at times reveal the labels under these icons (but I swear that at some point it revealed a menu) it just makes the entire UI even worse. Why *remove* the labels and make the UI harder to understand while adding a UI control that is even more impossible to understand meant to make the UI easier to understand?
In contrast, iOS has easy labeled "Edit" and "Save" buttons in these contexts.
Another issue was the navigation itself. When adding a contact you tap a plus icon, then the screen pans right to a new screen where you have to pick new contact or new group (my aunt was wondering what groups were, she has no use for this, why is this here?). Then it pans right again and you have an "empty" contact card. There you press plus to add a name, you pan right AGAIN to add name information, and then you have to save that with the floppy disk, which pans you left back to the contact card... Then plus again, pan right, add phone number, save, pan left, plus, pan right, address info, save, pan left. A dizzying amount of left and right navigation that is just amazingly confusing even for me. And when you were done adding information, you had to tap the floppy disk on the contact card itself and this save it to the contact list.
Contrast to iOS where the contact list has a plus button, which gives you the entire contact card, and you can start adding data right there and then, with no need to save and go back for each separate piece of information.
And, to round this off - I couldn't tell you how many times she accidentally tapped the Windows button when doing something in an application, bringing her back to the home screen. I imagine this may be a huge problem on Android phones as well. Since it's a touch key, having your finger stray just the tiniest amount will bring you back to the start screen. Whoa - where did all that contact information I spent the last half hour adding (i.e., a name and phone number :) go?
iOS has got its UI quirks as well (for instance, what's up with the minus button turning like a screw head when deleting a post?) but the brilliance of it isn't readily apparent until you use some of the alternatives.
And, I've always liked the Windows Phone UI when seen on screenshots, but using it, I'm not as enthusiastic about it any longer. And I hope iOS7 isn't too much like it.