I mentioned yesterday that I’d taken the plunge and acquired a Windows Phone – a Nokia Lumia 800. One of the things about moving from a dumbphone (my old Nokia 6310i) to a smartphone is that a world of applications opens up to you. For the Windows Phone ecosystem, that means over 50,000 Apps, and counting…
Now, while the quality of Windows Phone Apps, just like everything else, is subject to Sturgeon’s Law, it seems to me that there’s a reasonable chance of finding a portfolio of decent applications that will suit my needs. Here’s what I currently have on my phone (in addition to the standard Apps that ship with Windows Phone, and the Nokia Apps – Nokia Drive, Nokia Maps and Nokia Music – that come with the Nokia Lumia 800):
|Buienradar||A realtime viewer of where rain is falling over the Benelux region.|
|Face Swap||A bit of photographic fun from Microsoft Research|
|Flickr||The official Flickr app to upload photos taken on your Windows Phone and upload them to Flickr. You can also browse your Flickr account from your Windows Phone. Nicely done.|
|Het Weer||Comprehensive Weather application for The Netherlands. Basic interface, but gets the job done.|
|IMDb||Very comprehensive interface to the IMDb movie database. Well implemented – shows off the Windows Phone user interface to advantage.|
|Iss Locator||A basic app that just shows the current position on the ISS (International Space Station) superimposed on a 2D map of the globe. Not bad, but I’m left wanting more.|
|Media Center Remote||A very good Remote Control App for Windows Media Center. Covers the full range of function, including Search and Keyboard support for your Media. The only negative point is that it on start up it reads in the content of your Media libraries, and if you have large libraries, this can take a minute or two.|
|Meteor||Another Remote Control App for Windows Media Center. While startup is faster than Media Center Remote, and the display of the Music Library is clearer, it does not support Search and Keyboard functions, which I find surprising, and a negative point.|
|Metrotube||The best App for browsing YouTube that there is. Makes full use of the Windows Phone user interface. Unfortunately, the developers have announced it will be withdrawn from the Marketplace because Google have not documented the YouTube interfaces, and continual reverse engineering is not a sustainable approach.|
|My Home Server||A basic App to interface with Windows Home Server 2011. It has some Dashboard functions, and some capability to stream media (music, pictures, video) to your Windows Phone, but it is very basic. For example, the Album or Artist lists are single level lists (no jumping to initial title letters) that load agonisingly slowly. It does have a Search function, but it breaks the user interface guidelines in the way it operates.
When using the Media functions, error messages are a frequent occurrence. This App is from Microsoft’s own WHS 2011 team, and is yet more evidence of their poor performance in design and delivery of a product.
|SatView||A nicely-done realtime satellite tracker and orbit predictor with 2D and 3D views of over 1,300 satellites.|
|SkyDrive||An App to enable you to browse documents, folders, photos and files that are held on your SkyDrive storage (every Windows Live user ID has 25GB of free online storage). Works fairly well, but not faultlessly – I have at least one Word document that I can’t open on my Windows Phone, but which I can open on my PC.|
|SkyMap||Probably the best skymap available for the Windows Phone. Actually useful!|
|The Guardian||The official App for the Guardian newspaper. It’s not particularly innovative; it feels a bit tired and lazy. For example, the Search screen is only available in Portrait mode – I actually like to rotate my phone into Landscape when typing – the keyboard is bigger… The search engine also seems to be different from the Web version – the results are less and also more dated. Frankly, it’s almost better to browse the Guardian’s web site than bother with this App.|
|Treintijden||There are several train timetables and planners available for the Dutch railway network. This is the best one that I’ve found. Simple and effective.|
Doubtless this list will get refined over time, but it will do to get me started. I have to say that, so far, I really like the Metro interface of the Windows Phone; it’s a well-designed and well-executed piece of work.