There are apparently many different ways to judge how similar WP is to Android, and if it is becoming more similar. :smile:
Some equate the phrase "becoming like Android" with "gaining more features". I don't see how that can be a bad thing. However, I'm pretty sure that isn't the OP's concern. I'd also argue that WP could have the exact same features as Android while still being completely different from it. The point the OP is making is more subtle than that. It's not about the features an OS has, i.e. "what it can do", but rather "how it does it"!
The OP mentioned how Android and iOS are both very app focused and how MS' earlier WP efforts were not. While the app angle is a common way of expressing the OP's issue, I don't think it really captures what lies at the heart of the matter.
Paul Thurott refers to this issue as "the death of integrative experiences
". His is the best explanation attempt I've seen so far, but it's still all very abstract. It's nuanced. It's still not easy to understand.
This is how I'd explain the issue:
Android and iOS both emphasize "the operation" over "the subject". That means you'd generally first choose the app that you want to work with, and then what you want to work on. Examples:
- first you launch Skype (sending someone a message over the Skype network is the operation) and then you'd choose the contact (the subject)
- first you choose the photo editing app (the operation) and then the photo you want to modify (the subject)
This is how most people expect a smartphone to function, because it's what we are used to. Even for WP this is the default modus operandi. However, particularly for many early WP7 adopters, it seemed clear that WP was poised to take the exact opposite approach. Many expected that WP would instead emphasize "the subject" over the "the operation". Examples:
- first you choose your contact in the people hub (the subject), and then the means by which that person should be contacted e.g. Facebook, Skype, Text, or (eventually) any other communications channel based on the apps you've installed (the operation).
- first you choose the photo you want to modify in the picture hub (the subject), and then the photo filter you want to run on it (the operation)
Instead of switching between three apps to get your photo edited exactly the way you want it, you'd instead have all the features at your disposal from a single UI that is fast, polished, and provided by the OS. The features themselves may be provided by the apps you installed (Flickr, Instagram, whatever), but they would generally plug into the OS UI to make themselves accessible. If you needed the full app experience, you could always launch the app itself, but the hope was that 80% of the time you wouldn't have to.
For your contacts you'd have your entire communications history, including mail, texts, skype, calls, google hangouts, WhatApp (or anything else) available to you from a single spot, the people hub, instead of being scattered across dozens of isolated apps.
If the subject is outside the domain of the OS (for example when taking a picture, the subject is whatever you're taking a picture of), users have no choice but to select the operation first. However, even then WP gravitated towards a more integrated approach. That is what lenses are about. Instead of searching through the app list for a specific camera app, you'd instead have every feature integrated into the default camera app itself.
The above are examples of what some call "less app focused". This seemed to be where WP7 was headed. This is what many felt was a superior and more natural approach to using smartphones.
Unfortunately, instead of allowing every app to integrate with the people hub, MS replicated the notification centre. Instead of making hubs more flexible, they're now being deemphasize or dismantled. The default camera app, which can be thought of as the hub for lenses, can now be replaced with a specific app that is most likely to be just another functionally isolated island. The picture hub never really integrated with anything, and the music hub was never more than a list of the music apps you had installed, but many had a grander vision of what they were to become. It appears the early WP7 adopters were wrong, or rather more likely, MS changed their mind somewhere along the way.
In terms of becoming more app focused, WP is definitely becoming more like Android (and iOS), so I would agree with the OP. In other ways, WP retains its individuality. Ultimately, it depends on how each of us determines what "like Android" means.