Imagine an Android/Microsoft Franken-phone

If someone built an Android phone running Microsoft apps, would you buy it?

android microsoft phone 1
Franken-phone

When it was reported that Microsoft might invest in CyanogenMod, the mobile OS built on the open-source release of the Android codebase, speculation arose as to why. Although eventually Microsoft decided not to contribute to Cyanogen, it got us thinking: What if Microsoft or someone else created a smartphone running CyanogenMod, and it had no apps by Google. Instead, it was preloaded with Microsoft equivalents. Could such a Microsoft-dominant Android smartphone be viable? Technically, we would have to say, yes. Here, we compare how Microsoft’s apps would fare as replacements for their Google counterparts.

Bing
Bing search vs. Google search and Chrome

The Bing app is actually both a search engine and web browser, which can be used on its own as an alternative to Chrome. Bing shows results from within its browser, and pulls up its own mapping service site whenever you search a location, so you remain contained within Microsoft’s services. Like Google search, the Bing app also has voice-search functionality, but, unlike Google, it won’t speak out results. It doesn’t have a search box widget that you can pin onto the Android launcher home screen; this prevents it from competing for your attention with Google’s own search widget.

OneDrive
One Drive vs. Google Drive

Both apps are functionally similar, but they work only with their corresponding cloud storage service -- you can’t use one app to access your files on the other service. So if you want to use both services on your Android device, you’ll need to have these two apps installed.

Outlook Preview vs. Gmail and Google Calendar
Outlook Preview vs. Gmail and Google Calendar

Outlook Preview allows you to use your accounts from other email services through it, including Gmail, iCloud and Yahoo! Mail. You can sign in to three cloud storage services (Box, Dropbox and OneDrive) through Outlook Preview so that you can attach files stored on them to your emails. With Gmail, you can attach files stored on other services, such as Dropbox and OneDrive, only if you have their corresponding Android apps installed. Outlook Preview includes a calendar tool that’s similar to the Android default Calendar app.

OneNote vs. Keep
OneNote vs. Keep

Google’s note-taking app, Keep, helps you create and edit notes on your phone, while Microsoft’s OneNote is a little more sophisticated, with a UI that appears to have been designed more for tablets. Both let you add checkboxes and images to your notes. With Keep, you can set a reminder to be alerted about a note on a designated day, time or location. OneNote lacks this alert function, but you can add audio clips to a note. And OneNote has more formatting options: You can create a bulleted or numbered list, and text styling can be changed. The big feature OneNote has over Keep is that you can also draw right on your note, using your finger on the touchscreen.

Skype vs. Hangouts
Skype vs. Hangouts

Both of these apps can be used for online messaging, video or voice chatting, and text messaging. But other than sending texts to a cell number, the two apps aren’t cross-compatible -- a Skype user account cannot communicate directly with a Hangouts account. (A Microsoft email account, such as with Outlook.com, can also be used to sign in to Skype.) The main differentiator is that Skype is still oriented toward what it was originally designed for: Making domestic and international phone calls to a cell or landline number by using minute credits you buy.

HERE vs. Google Maps
HERE vs. Google Maps

The mapping app HERE belongs to Nokia, but because of the past business relationship between Microsoft and Nokia, we could imagine HERE would be included in our theoretical unofficial Android phone. Like Google Maps, HERE features turn-by-turn navigation that uses a voice to direct you. She speaks with an English accent, but HERE lets you change the accent, gender and language. (Google Maps doesn’t let you change its default female voice that speaks with an American accent.) Another feature HERE has that Google Maps lacks is you can download and install regional maps so you can use this app entirely offline.

Office Mobile vs. Google Docs, Sheets and Slides
Office Mobile vs. Google Docs, Sheets and Slides

Office Mobile is pretty weak compared to Google Docs, Sheets and Slides. You can only create and edit very simple Word documents with it. The app is somewhat more capable when handling Excel spreadsheets. As for PowerPoint, you can’t create a presentation with Office Mobile -- only use it to view a PowerPoint file and add notes to slides.

There are more powerful versions of Microsoft’s Office applications for Android, but Excel for Tablet, PowerPoint for Tablet, and Word for Tablet are only for Android tablets. The easiest way for Microsoft to rectify this is to port or redesign these apps for Android phones.

Addendum: Amazon Appstore, Cortana, Next Lock Screen, and Z Launcher
Addendum: Amazon Appstore, Cortana, Next Lock Screen, and Z Launcher

To finish out our hypothetical unofficial Android phone that has absolutely no apps by Google:

Amazon Appstore: The most obvious replacement for the Google Play store would be Amazon’s store for Android apps.

Cortana: Microsoft says it will bring Cortana to Android sometime after the release of Windows 10. This will put it in direct competition with Google Now.

Next Lock Screen: Microsoft developed this lock screen app as an alternative to Android’s default. Next is surprisingly pretty good.

Z Launcher: Nokia created this to help make launching apps faster, and with the ability to do so through gesture drawing.