apps

WPCentral's list of the best apps for the Lumia 900

Although veterans of this site will know what are some of the best, must-have-apps are for Windows Phone, new users coming to the platform with the Lumia 900 (review) will not. So for our new friends, we'll get you started on some of the most popular, useful and impressive apps for Windows Phone.

Sure, we "only" have around 70,000 apps but that's still a heck of a lot to sift through.  And since we've personally installed over 1,200 apps and games on our Windows Phone, we think we can lend a hand.

So without further ado, here's our list...

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Should you be a UK student (above the age of 16) and are developing for the Windows Phone platform, you'll be in with a chance of winning one of a 100 Lumia 800s that are being given away to student developers. All that's required is for young developers to submit apps to the Marketplace and they'll automatically be in with a chance of winning one.

Not only are 100 Windows Phones being handed out, but should your app prove to be unique and of high quality you could find yourself spending the day at a Microsoft office to expand knowledge and experience with platform technicians and experts. Pretty neat, eh?

To enter:

  • Register on the competition website.
  • The Student Team will then monitor your app submissions in Marketplace.
  • 3 random prize draws (up to 30 x Nokia Lumia 800 Windows Phones per draw).
  • 1 Top App Competition (up to 10 x Nokia Lumia 800 Windows Phones and trip to Microsoft offices).

Be sure to enter the competition before submitting your apps and check the terms and conditions. Remember that every app you submit will increase your chances of winning.

Source: MSDN

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Elan Feingold, co-founder of Plex, has shared his thoughts on the experience the company has had with development on the platform thus far. Plex recently released the official app for Windows Phone, which enables the user to stream movies, music and photos to their device(s) on the go.

Feingold is a longtime iPhone user who has never had any interest in Android, due to the mess of the system itself, fragmentation and how much work is involved into personalising the experience to suit the user's needs. He was introduced to Windows Phone ("Mango") by his brother, and explains his initial reaction:

"When Windows Phone 7 was released, I was intrigued by the design and typography [...] my initial impression (this was pre-Mango) was lukewarm, and I was obsessed with the iPhone at that point anyway, so I just went all fanboy on his ass and mostly ignored it."

Feingold moves onto talk about how he returned to Windows Phone in January and ordered himself a second-hand Samsung handset to aid with development. He was surprised by how impressed the operating system left him after initial use.

"Windows Phone felt original, well designed, and fun to use. The performance was great, really smooth in a way iOS is and Android isn’t even in ICS. The 'pivot' and 'panorama' UI concepts were fresh and a great way of making good use of a small screen in portrait mode. The typography was clean and brazen. The integration of Facebook and Twitter made them feel like first class citizens, not an afterthought. The live tiles on the home screen were a great way to make the phone feel alive."

The features of the OS were so appealing during and after use that it actually made Feingold almost dislike using his beloved iPhone. How was the development of the Plex app though, and does it stand up to competitor platforms? The icing on the cake is the below comment on how the development on Windows Phone compares to both iOS and Android:

"So how is the Windows Phone development environment? It’s scary good. C# is a great language, .NET is a solid framework, XAML is a really nice way to design user interfaces, and the edit-build-deploy cycle is fast. It still has a bit of growing up to do, but the proof, as they say, is in the pudding: we were able to write the app from start to finish in two months, between two engineers working part time, which is almost an order of magnitude faster than it took for the iOS and Android app."

Be sure to read the full blog post over at Elan's blog on Plex's website (see source link), and of course the official Plex app which can be found on the Marketplace.

Source: Plex

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The Department of Computer Science and Telecommunications of TEI of Larissa has announced another Windows Phone Developer Challenge, which will encourage students to get creative and produce some interesting apps for the mobile platform. Participants who submit three apps, that pass set requirements, and have them approved / published on the Windows Phone Marketplace will be rewarded with a free handset.

The department recently held a developer contest that put students up against one another to win one of two Lumia 800s available as prizes. The announced developer challenge will begin on April 1st, and all apps submitted by students to the Marketplace afterwards will be deemed eligible for the prize. 

Source: TEI of Larissa; thanks sofoklis for the tip!

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Nokia has been doing an outstanding job rebuilding not only their own brand, but that of Microsoft's mobile division too. But is hardware enough? Not at all (as many have pointed out). We've previously reported on Nokia and Microsoft investing €18 million on an app development program in Finland, but we'll need much more to combat the skeptical outsider comments and the lack of developer support from the big names - Rovio being a perfect example with Angry Birds (though they have since confirmed it is coming).

Cue the software giant. Mary Jo Foley from ZDNet has revealed some interesting presentation slides that show how Microsoft plans to tackle the above problems. The slides all point at a $10 million campaign over three years to round up developers and companies that aren't supporting the platform yet.

Ensuring that the quality bar remains high with apps by driving the message that highlights built-in features of Windows Phone over bolt ons (comparing with Android). It would appear from the first slide that Google's OS would be targeted in campaigns. The second slide simply states that the company would plan to bridge the gaps in the top 25 apps on other platforms. Pandora being another good example.

The remaining two slides illustrate the need to promote top apps and exclusives consistently, while actually capitalising on the exclusivity. What's interesting to note is the plan for offers to be used to drive platform awareness with ESPN sweepstakes, Xbox Companion and Live giveaways, and Univision sweepstakes as examples. For gamers, "price games at parity with iPhone" will be music to the ears with some titles on Windows Phone costing more than on iOS.

Source: ZDNet

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Microsoft has announced the opening of AppHub submissions to the 23 new countries added to the pool of support. Developers in these countries (and beyond) will be able to submit their work to the localised Marketplaces, which will open up to consumers in the near future.

To recap on the newly added countries: Bahrain, Bulgaria, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Estonia, Iceland, Iraq, Israel, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Vietnam. The total number of supported markets is now at a respectable 63.

A quick reminder to developers - it's now reportedly taking more than 7 days to approve Marketplace submissions. Something to consider when keeping to announced release dates.

Source: Windows Phone Developer Blog

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Sad news from the outskirts of space: Windows Phone won't be getting Angry Birds Space on March 22 when Android and iOS do.  An email from Rovio, developer of the mega-popular phenomenon, told DailyMobile that while they are "working day and night to get the game to all relevant devices," they do not have the resources to get deliver to all platforms at once.  Having been wait-listed for the first installment of Angry Birds, only to be missing 105 levels when it finally did arrive,  this comes as another heavy blow from Rovio.  Being that Android and iOS dominate mobile market, it makes sense that Windows Phone takes a back seat, but it doesn't sting any less.

Rovio declined to share any information about specific features of the newest add-on to the Angry Birds franchise.  However, the game was previewed at SXSW on Samsung's Galaxy Note, which benefits from Samsung's partnership with Rovio by getting exclusive in-game content.  For now, you can get a small taste from the teaser below.

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The Windows Phone team is set to enable AppHub access for developers to 23 more countries, which were announced late last month by Joe Belfiore, in the next two weeks. Where will we be seeing this new support? Bahrain, Bulgaria, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Estonia, Iceland, Iraq, Israel, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Vietnam.

Todd Brix states that after this batch of countries is rolled out, the total number of supported countries will be bumped to 63 - an impressive amount of targetable markets for platform developers. Do note, however, that there may be some issues with some of the newly added markets, as Brix explains (and Carbon found out):

"Keep in mind that some new markets— Bahrain, China, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE—are subject to additional certification requirements due to local laws or norms. Check Section 3.10 of our content policy for more details."

As a final note, it's warned that app submissions are taking up to seven days to certify due to volumes, and this delay may well increase. Something for developers to be aware of when submitting apps with a published date in mind.

Source: Windows Phone Developer Blog

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Back in September we reviewed a handy remote control app for the Roku video streaming devices called ROKUbox. It mostly provided a convenient substitute for a real Roku remote control, plus a few extra features. Fast forward to 2012 and ROKUbox has now become WPRemote for Roku. The name change is a result of the Roku company’s desire for keeping 3rd-party apps from being confused with official ones. Of course, there is no official Roku remote app for Windows Phone, but you know legal types are.

Additionally, the app’s version 2.0 update added a handy YouTube video playback function. See, for some crazy reason the Roku company doesn’t want to pay Google for the rights to provide an official YouTube channel on the Roku. Never mind that the Xbox 360, Sony Blu-Ray players, and myriad other devices have such channels. Thankfully the folks at Localyf have created their own custom Roku channel that plays YouTube videos.

To enable the feature, you’ll need to follow the instructions provided in the WPRemote for Roku app. Basically it involves going to the Channel Store on the Roku device and inputting a code to download Localyf’s channel. Once you’ve done that, simply press the YouTube button at the bottom of the WPRemote app. The app’s YouTube section allows you to search for YouTube videos by name and view recently played videos. Once you choose a video, it immediately starts playing on the Roku and your HDTV. You can also pin a live tile for the YouTube search function to your phone.

YouTube playback is the one glaringly missing feature of Roku devices, so it’s awesome that Localyf has found a workaround. There are other Roku remote apps for Windows Phone, but WPRemote for Roku appears to be the only one with a YouTube feature. That should be enough to make it a must-buy for Roku owners.

WPRemote for Roku costs $1.99 and there is a free trial. Get it here on the Marketplace.

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AdDuplex has ran another marketing and monetization interview with a Windows Phone developer. This time they've managed to get 4Bros Studio, developers of the incredibly successful Taptitude, on board for some insightful answers.  

Taptitude passed the 100,000 downloads checkpoint earlier in January and is arguably the best rated app for Windows Phone. This positively reflects just how much revenue the free ad-supported indie game is raking in. While no exact numbers have been published as-of-yet, they do note in the interview that they've earned over $70,000.

"Taptitude has been out for just over a year but in the first 4 months we only made $500.  At the time we were pretty happy with that, but in reality it wasn't even enough to cover a much needed server upgrade. Our great user community ended up donating the required funds for the upgrade.

Despite being a slow start, we're now pulling in 10-15k per month in ad revenue, and yet we've never been very highly downloaded (ranked 150th ATM). The lesson here is to never give up, just make the game you want to play and you’ll be rewarded one way or another. If nothing else, you'll learn something that can be applied to your next project."

4Bros Studio is built up of four brothers, three of whom work for Microsoft. This is a real testament to the quality of personnel at the company and how even employees are able to create some fantastic projects for consumers to enjoy on company platforms. Be sure to read up the full interview at AdDuplex.

As a side note - should you have not yet checked out Taptitude, be sure to download it (for free) from the Marketplace.

Source: AdDuplex Blog

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We here at WPC love us some Reddit (as if you couldn't tell) and we're also big fans of Baconit, the metro-style Reddit app.  The oft-updated app has just been upvoted to version 1.8, which packs a whole lot of additions.  Among the major ones is Image Mode for subreddits, which allows full screen viewing, endless image scrolling, comprehensive viewing options (pinch to zoom, drag to pan, double tap to reset) and the ability to save images to your phone.

Other significant changes include:

  • Added landscape support for subreddit, web page, and comment viewers, as well as submit a link
  • Added story domain in to story list
  • Added orientation lock
  • New comments are tracked on stories that have been viewed
  • Fixed long self-text / comment cut off problem
  • Improved web page viewer
  • Improved up vote and down vote hit boxes

There are other changes and fixes as well, which can be viewed in their entirety here.  And as you can see in the change log, version 1.9 is already in the works.

You can download the free version, or reward the developer for a great app with a $1.99 donation.

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Want to know just how good your Windows phone's camera is?  Check out CamSpeed, the new app from Sofica.  With CamSpeed, you can benchmark the focus and image capturing capabilities of your phone's built-in camera.  Not only that, you can compare it your other devices, as well as those of other CamSpeed users by uploading your results to Sofica's online charts.

CamSpeed allows you to adjust resolution, focus mode and flash mode, then measures:

  • - Focus Time
  •   (time from focus call to successful focus event)
  • - Capture Start Time
  •   (time from capture call to the moment when the capture sequence has started)
  • - Capture Image Available
  •   (time from capture call to the moment when an image is available)
  • - Capture Completed
  •   (time from capture call to the moment when the capture sequence is complete)

Download it here for free.  Online results can be viewed at http://www.sofica.fi/CamSpeed/.

Thanks, Markku, for the tip!

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Besides all of the new phone goodness today, Nokia also showed off a few new apps heading down the pike for their Windows Phone users. One of those is Nokia Transport, an app dedicated to public transportation including bus and train schedules for more than 500 cities--something us urban folk desperately need. The app nails down your position and shows you the nearest stops and schedules around you, allowing you to save and even pin to your Start screen a route of you choices. That Live Tile can then flip around showing you the next train or bus always keeping you in the loop.

Nokia Reading is an eBook app that also supports audio books. It turns out it runs through Nokia's store where you can browse for new books, including a lot of free ones, save and basically use it as solid eReader. The selection of books looks decent enough but we'll have to see more when it is closer to launch.

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It feels like it was just yesterday that we ran the story about Nokia stealing the top-spot with regards to Windows Phone market-share.

Analytic firms often throw around numbers, and for the most part we just believe them. This does of course make sense, as any reputable firm would much rather keep a good name, than make up random numbers. But it's always good to see actual data backing up what they tell us. Enter: app statistics!

So I thought now would be a good time to checkout the usage of my apps on a device level. My first app was published just 6 months ago, so obviously that is the furthest back I can see.

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Over the past few years, as consumers have become more concerned with how and what they eat, the number of people choosing to lead a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle has increased dramatically.  And while being vegetarian has become much easier since I first started over 13 years ago, it can still be a challenging road to navigate, be it grocery shopping, traveling, or just trying to keep things new and different when cooking at home.  Thankfully, with Windows Phone it's that much easier, whether you are a seasoned veggie veteran or just starting out.  With February being Fitness Month here at WPCentral and Mobile Nations, we thought we take a look at several vegetarian apps.

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NXP puts entire catalog in Windows Phone app

NXP Semiconductors has just released an app in the Marketplace that allows engineers to browse and buy more than 10,000 products parts from NXP‘s High Performance Mixed Signal and Standard Products portfolio.  The Dutch manufacturer, who has also created apps for Android and iOS, is the first semiconductor company to make their products available via a Windows Phone application.

"We're very pleased to welcome Windows Phone users to our mobile app community. The feedback to our mobile apps for iPhone and Android has been tremendous, and we are delighted to take the lead once again in introducing our complete product catalog on a leading mobile OS, Windows Phone -- enabling customers to make selections and purchases anytime, anywhere. However you prefer to review technical information -- whether it's via mobile apps, datasheets, white papers, design guides, online forums, newsletters, social media networks, webinars or videos -- NXP is committed to helping you quickly find exactly what you need," said Sander Arts, vice president of marketing and communications, NXP Semiconductors.

Features of the NXP Windows Application:

  • Engineers can browse and search the database of NXP products by product functions and part numbers to get product specifications. Product datasheets, application and packaging information are also available at the click of a finger tip.
  • Customers can order product parts using this application. By placing products directly into a shopping cart, they will be directed to online stores of NXP's worldwide distribution partners to complete the transaction within minutes.
  • Engineers are able to share product specifications by emails or social media channels, like Facebook or Twitter.
  • The "My Favorite" function allows engineers to keep track of product types that they are interested in.
  • "About NXP" provides the overview of NXP's worldwide sales offices, distribution networks and access to online technical support form.

You can download it here for free.

Source: MSNBC; Thanks for the tip, Rodney!

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There has been speculation previously that Mango apps wont be able to run on Apollo-powered Windows Phones, especially from rumour preacher Eldar Murtazin which were subsequently squashed by Brandon Watson. We've been fairly sure (and hoping) that apps would run on the next version of Windows Phone, and now WPSauce has come across a job posting at Redmond that confirms compatibility.

The job description for the position of contains the following:

"Automated testing of marketplace applications written for Mango, but running on Apollo. Write code, file bugs."

While this is further confirmation, we'll have to see what resources Microsoft provide to the developers in the coming months. With the Apollo update (Windows Phone 8) looking set to be a massive overhaul, it'll be interesting to see how the software giant plays this out. Perhaps we'll learn more at MWC.

Source: MyVisaJobs, via: WPSauce

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Windows Phone App Review: Reinstaller

One thing I miss about Windows Mobile is the ability to reinstall apps from a central location. Either from ActiveSync, a backup file or the Windows Mobile Marketplace reinstalling apps after a hard reset or setting up a new phone seemed to be easier back in the day. That is until now.

Reinstaller is a new utility app for your Windows Phone that creates a list of all the apps associated with your Live account and helps you to install all or just some of them. It's not the perfect system to reinstall your apps but it's a step in the right direction.

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LG has been in the spotlight recently with leaks of the upcoming LG Fantasy/Miracle (passing through FCC) coming to light, and now the OEM has released three more apps for consumers to download from the Marketplace. Those who own LG Windows Phones can now get their hands on NowCaster, Winny Toolbox and Winny & Friends (the last two are aimed at the younger ages).

NowCaster is a useful app that users can fire up when waking up to the world, which will read out your calendar, the latest weather forecast, as well as other news and reports out loud. The app's usefulness is restricted to those moments when you're occupied but require to check out said information (driving, cooking, etc.).

Winny Toolbox is an app full of tools that children would find valuable with a comprehensive unit converter (energy, angle, pressure, weight, volume, temperature, etc.), time/date calculator, sales price calculator, clothes size converter, random number generator, to name just a few. Though the app is designed for children, I'm sure adults could also put a handful of the tools to good use.

Finally, Winny and Friends enables children to have amusing fun with their Windows Phone by taking photos and editing them with overlays, etc. Not only that, but there are cartoon characters that come alive when tapping on the screen, perfect for younger children.

To download these apps, head on over to LG's collection of OEM apps on the Marketplace.

Via: Professeur Thibault

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