My First Experience With Windows Phone 8 … And It’s A #FAIL

Remember: Independent …

I arrived into the office this morning to find that a HTC 8x (Windows Phone 8) had been ordered to replace my HTC HD7 (Windows Phone 7.5).  I hated the HD7.  It’s my work phone.  My personal phone is an iPhone 4 which I’ve had for just over 2 years – I bought it the weekend before the global GA launch of Windows Phone 7 (in Europe).  I’ve like my iPhone.  I live on podcasts and audiobooks, transmitted to my car stereo via an FM transmitter dongle.  As I said, I hate WP 7.x.  While the iPhone runs my life, the WP7 handset gets turned off at the end of every workday – that’s the nice thing about what I do … no “on call” Smile

With my iPhone contract expired, I’ve decided to change network and upgrade my phone.  Will it be the obvious iPhone 5, the strong Galaxy S III, or a dark horse WP8 handset?

On the network side, I’ve decided to switch to 3 Ireland.  They give unlimited data, they have great roaming with the UK (free data – and I’m up North quite a lot), and are cheaper than my plan with Vodafone Ireland (who would force me to “upgrade” to a downgraded plan if I get an upgrade phone).  Not to mention that 3 has better data signal nationally.

I hate iTunes 11.  If you haven’t upgraded, then don’t.  Cling to iTunes v10.x like it was your last breath in a drowning flood.  The awful new experience put me in mind to look at the competition.

Every time I look at Android it leaves me confused.  I just don’t get it.  The screens, the lack of continuity, and the wondering if apps will work at all.  Plus Android is a security nightmare.  And it’s always going to be last to get support from Microsoft because of the Google thing.

Then there’s Windows Phone 8.  I was getting an 8x for work so I could try that before making a decision.  The Lumia 920 is a no.  Only O2 Ireland will have it.  O2 are the most expensive and stingy network in the country.  Off-plan, the phone is around €800, and that’s more expensive than a 3G iPad!  Hey Elop – I’m still no fan of yours!  The Nokia maybe a flagship but so were the Titanic and the Bismarck.  The reviews of the Samsung ATIV S are not flattering.  The camera and the sound are said to be bad.

Today I got the 8x.  After getting a mini SIM I switched over from the HD7 and synced up everything easily.  All the social and media apps were installed.  Actually not all.  I was sure I had an NFL app for Gamepass on the WP7 set but I couldn’t get one for this handset and it’s gone from the Marketplace.  Huh!  I got a tidal app and sunrise/sunset app for photography.  It was all looking good.

And then it came to the most important thing: Podcasts.

I found an app called Podcasts!  It could search, but not as well as iTunes, sometimes requiring me to get RSS feed URLs, e.g. the Newstalk 106-108 shows that I listen to.  And then I found it required manual download and was limited to 2 shows.  By paying I could get over that limit … but no auto-download.  I’m sorry, but isn’t the point of Windows Phone that I don’t spend my day with my face pointed at the screen?  FAIL!

I asked on Twitter but the only response was a similar experience.  That rules Windows Phone out as my personal device, and the 8x becomes a brick that I use for work calls.  It might as well be a €24.99 pay-as-you-go candy bar phone from Tesco (like Wallmart).  I’m not going to invest time in this WP8 phone because it cannot do what I want most from it.

My search goes on.  Odds are, I’ll end up with an iPhone 5 because of how much Android confuses me.  That’s a pity, because a decent podcasts app couldn’t be that hard for MSFT to write.

Please contact me if you do find a decent workable solution for getting podcasts working correctly on WP8 that does not include batteries, a duck’s feather, bailing twine and lemon juice.


So it appears that American, and some other, readers might not have a clue what I’m talking about.  Apparently podcasts appear in the market place for some privileged folks.  In Ireland, we are limited to apps, games, and music in the Marketplace.  Until Microsoft gets this regional lockdown stuff then Windows Phone is a saw without a blade to me.


Alan Byrne contacted me on Twitter with a suggestion, and was quickly followed by Thomas Maurer (MVP) with the same idea.  There’s an app called PodCatcher that appears to do what I want.  I have installed the trial (that failed to install until I rebooted the handset).  The trial is limited to 2 subscriptions but it does have episode auto-download functionality.  It’s also sensible enough to not want to do large downloads over mobile networking.

As for app availability: The Windows Phone Marketplace not as broad as iOS or Android, not having some of the big names. But the core stuff I want is there.  Today is the crunch day.  We’ll see what I come home with at lunch time, assuming the local stores have any stock 🙂

6 thoughts on “My First Experience With Windows Phone 8 … And It’s A #FAIL”

  1. Hi Aidan,
    If you go in the store you should have a section podcasts like all other sections – apps, games, music.
    I am not from US I am from Bulgaria and I still have ppodcasts section. If you find a podcast you can subscribe to that podcast and you have the option to how many podcasts you want to keep on your phone. You can find your podcasts later on xbox music and video app. I’ve searched for Newstalk in pdocast section and it was there. I am subscribed for Windows Weekly and What the Tech and it is working ok. If for any reason this podcasts section is not available in the store may be you can change your region on the phone. There are some differences of apps, music and games for the different countries.

  2. Hi Aidan,

    same podcast issue for me. The only workable solution I found is to download the recent episodes at night on my PC (or Mac in that case) and sync it to WP8. Podcasts! is likely the best app so far but quite limited in selection – some shows aren’t available there.

    This currently works for me and my Lumia 920 (only 4G Windows Phone 8 here in Switzerland).

    What I really don’t like about iOS 6’s Podcast App is that it wants to play not downloaded episodes over the Air, not qood if there is a data cap on your plan. Bring back the old iOS iTunes App!

    In case you decide for the iPhone 5 – I have mine to give away – replaced it with the Lumia 920 which sells off contract in Switzerland for aprox. 550 Euros.

    Cheers from Zurich

  3. Until yesterday I had a WP7 HD7 – same as your work phone. In Australia we don’t get podcasts in the marketplace/store either, so I was using Zune on my desktop and happily syncing podcasts to my phone.

    WP8 doesn’t work with Zune, and the new desktop client for WP8 doesn’t support podcasts at all. I manually dragged over some podcasts to the phone’s podcasts folder (since you can now access a bit of the phone’s shared filesystem via USB) but they just showed up under music 🙁

    I did a bit of a search and someone recommended Slapdash Podcasts – it works well, downloads to the phone (new experience for me) and found the podcasts I was after, but if it doesn’t have something you can give it the RSS feed. The only issue I have is that if the phone tombstones the app then it loses where you were in the podcast. It also played well when I tried out Nokia Drive (I bought a Lumia 920 to replace my HD7) to navigate whilst listening to a podcast.

    I believe Paul Thurrott has written about this issue. IIRC he said that you could get iTunes to download the podcasts on your desktop and then have the WP8 desktop app sync your phone with iTunes rather than with your Windows libraries. Since I’m not an Apple user I don’t have iTunes and would rather not get yet another app on the desktop. See Searching for, and then reading the article again, I see that he also said Slapdash Podcasts is worthwhile checking out.

    1. Thanks Ian. I read Paul’s article. I’m not into the McGuyver solutions … why should I when other products “just work” out of the box without having to compensate for unnecessary region crippling? The Zune approach, as Paul says, is prone to problems. The Windows Phone app is a beta. I’m not going to rely on that because of the history of the Windows Phone group.

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