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Pinterest is an immensely popular social network, with a website that has since spawned excellent, full-featured apps for iOS and Android devices. And that makes the company's half-hearted official Windows Phone app even more of a disappointment, as sluggish performance and missing features sour the experience for fans of Microsoft's mobile operating system.
If you're unfamiliar with Pinterest, it's best to think of it as a sort of discovery service to help you find stuff of interest on the Internet. The social network revolves around "boards," which are populated by "pins," or images. It's essentially a virtual corkboard you can share with friends, family, or the entire world -- provided they're on Pinterest, naturally.
Missing the fundamentals
To start, Pinterest for Windows Phone is a mere Web app. These are shortcuts to creating a proper Windows Phone apps, but are actually just mobile websites in disguise. Remember last year's Youtube kerfuffle? There's a similar issue here: the Pinterest app offers a dynamic live tile and looks and feels just like a proper native app, but once you fire it up you'll quickly realize it's just the Pinterest mobile site in a fancy shell. The idea is to help developers get their wares onto Microsoft's platform, but the end result is a decidedly slower experience, one chock full of thumbnails that struggle or outright fail to load and a pared down interface. In fact, short of a menu bar running along the bottom of the screen, the app offers little over simply pointing Internet Explorer on Windows Phone to Pinterest's site.
Consider creating pins, a Pinterest app's primary raison d'être. On iOS devices you can create pins based on your location, from photos in your camera roll, links on your device's clipboard, or using the built-in browser to navigate the Internet and find something to your liking -- the app will automatically cull any Pin-able images once you find what you're looking for. If you're using an Android device, you can also use the built-in sharing functionality to grab images from all over the Internet, or send photos you've taken directly to the app.
The Windows Phone version offers none of these options. The only way to add a pin is to enter the URL of an image, or enter the URL of a website and hope the app finds something it can work with. There isn't even a way to create pins from photos on your device, which is baffling but ultimately an indication of how limiting Web apps are.
Also missing are a lot of the functionality and aesthetic touches that make Pinterest on iOS and Android fun to use. The grid of icons to represent categories while you search are replaced but a decidedly duller list, for example. There's also no support for any gestures that might help you get around: you're getting the mobile Web experience, and nothing more.