What iOS 6 stole from Windows Phone (and what Microsoft needs to steal back for Windows Phone 8)

imageApple has done its usual trick of wowing their adoring audience with features they openly cribbed from other operating systems.

Here is some of the new iOS features Windows Phone have been enjoying for a while or will be getting soon:

  • Facebook – Apple has added Facebook integration on iOS 6 after so many years. Yes, iPhone users will be able to sync their contacts, post & share photos to Facebook using native integration beginning this fall. Windows Phone users are enjoying these Facebook integration features since its release two years back. Windows Phone has got Facebook IM support as an advantage for now and we expect much more stronger integration with Facebook on Windows Phone 8.
  • Siri – Apple updated its voice guidance app Siri with many services support. You can now ask Siri about sports, movies, local whose results are powered by apps like Yelp, Rotten Tomatoes, etc,. And now Siri allows you to open apps by voice which Windows Phone devices already have. Yes, you can say "Open Calendar" to open calendar app in Windows Phone. Even though Windows Phone search is powered by Bing that integrates results from IMDB, Yelp, Rotten Tomatoes, OpenTable, etc, you can’t access them via Bing Voice search. Expect it on Windows Phone 8.
  • Shared Photo Streams – As the name suggests, Shared Photo Streams allows you to share your photos with certain people using Apple ID. People can comment, like your photos. I really don’t know what Apple is trying to do here, trying to make Facebook by itself ? Windows Phone users have native integration with SkyDrive, Microsoft’s Cloud Storage service. You can automatically upload photos to SkyDrive, enjoy the same across devices and platforms. And yes, it even allows commenting on photos! We have already seen SkyDrive integration in Windows 8, expect same level of integration in Windows Phone 8 as well.
  • FaceTime – Apple’s video chat service has now added support for video calls over cellular. Windows Phone 8 users will have native Skype integration which will blow FaceTime away for sure. Skype is cross-platform, supports voice call to phones and it works on both Wi-Fi and Cellular. More importantly, Skype already has 200 million users.
  • Mail – iOS 6 lets you set up a VIP list so you’ll never miss an important message from your accountant, your boss, or your BFF. This is among top 10 feature on iOS 6 ?? In Windows Phone, you can have many alternate methods such pinning the group of people you care about as a Live Tile and many more. Or you can individually pin them on your start screen for their latest mail, updates, messages, etc,.
  • Maps – Apple has now replaced the Google Maps app with its new own version of Maps app built on tech from C3 which it bought last year . After 5 versions of the OS in 5 years, iOS gets native turn-by-turn navigation support. It has an eye-candy feature called Flyover which lets you explore maps in 3D mode. On Nokia Windows Phone devices, you will get free, full offline, turn-by-turn navigation already. Nokia is updating its Maps, Drive and Transit apps every few weeks. By the time iOS 6 releases, I expect Nokia to have 3D mode in mobile devices as well. I’ll be surprised if Microsoft announces any "huge" improvements over its Bing Maps app for other Windows Phone OEMs.

Of course there are a few features we would want Microsoft to crib back for Windows Phone also.

These are:

  • Safari – . iCloud Tabs keeps track of which pages you have open on your devices, so you can start browsing on one device and pick up right where you left off on whatever device is handy. Safari now saves web pages — not just links — in your Reading List, so you can catch up on your reading even when you can’t connect to the Internet. Internet Explorer in Windows Phone doesn’t have both these features. I expect some new features like these to be announced in Windows Phone 8.
  • Phone – Now when you decline an incoming call, you can instantly reply with a text message or set a callback reminder. And when things are just too hectic, turn on Do Not Disturb and you won’t be bothered by anyone. We had these features in our old Nokia Symbian devices and its now coming back. Windows Phone does not have these features and I really don’t expect them on Windows Phone 8 as well.
  • Accessibility – iOS 6 comes with even more features to make it easier for people with vision, hearing, learning, and mobility disabilities to get the most from their iOS devices. Just yesterday, we ran a post that Windows Phone 8 will have broader set of accessibility features.
  • Passbook- Your boarding passes, movie tickets, retail coupons, loyalty cards, and more are now all in one place. You can scan and store all these within the app and its time and location based. Windows Phone users don’t have any such solution as of now from Microsoft. I expect 3rd party developers to build the same app with better experience soon. There are already some in marketplace, but not exactly like Passbook.

I think Apple has given a clear path for Microsoft to innovate. All the features in iOS 6 seems to be evolutionary and now Microsoft has to deliver Windows Phone 8 with a bang.

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is a Computer Science and Engineering Graduate. He was also a Microsoft Student Partner. He is currently working in a leading IT company. Follow him at twitter.com/pradeepviswav and Facebook