As I’ve mentioned here a couple times already, I was a long time iPhone user, ever since the 3G rolled out in 2008. However, this summer I jumped ship and got on board with Windows-Phone. I knew next to nothing about the Windows Marketplace, and although I’m not an expert right now, I can share with you the apps that I feel should be on every new Windows Phone user’s phone.
I’ve posted the apps that I use as standard, but also some other recommendations from the same category. Here they are below:
A must-have app no matter what platform you’re on, Shazam does a great job at identifying songs in mere seconds. Just whip out your phone and scan the song – Shazam will do its magic and you’re going to get the artist and song shortly.
Just like iOS and Android, Shazam has a powerful competitor in SoundHound, and I feel that they are evenly matched. There’s no clear winner between the two, as each has the songs it can’t pinpoint and each excels in certain situations. After using the two I stayed with Shazam, but that’s based on personal preference alone.
Amazon’s e-book reader has to be on any list containing must-have apps for any platform. For me, personally, going from the iPhone’s Retina to Nokia’s Clear Black screen has been quite the change, and I find myself reading on my Lumia much more due to the fantastic screen.
There are many ebook readers on the Windows Marketplace, but I feel that the Amazon Kindle is the most well-rounded of them all. It provides a great reading experience and I’ve yet to encounter a problem with it.
Competitors include the popular Freda, which has received some pretty good reviews.
The Adobe Reader is an app that shouldn’t be missing from your phone, just like it shouldn’t be missing from your computer. It’s*the* tool for reading PDF files and even though it’s not as feature-packed as users would like, it does the job great.
I was very surprised to find out that Windows-Phone gadgets don’t have a native PDF reader, and the Adobe Reader was the logical choice. At the time, it was the only PDF reader that I could find, and even though there are bound to be more to come to the Marketplace I think it’s the one I’m sticking with.
As far as weather apps are concerned, Windows Marketplace is experiencing no shortage. There are dozens of apps that do pretty much the same thing, and they get their data from just a couple of locations, so you’re set no matter what type of weather app you want to install on your phone. I’ve previously used The Weather Channel‘s app and AccuWeather, but I’ve recently switched to Weather View, which I find to be the best weather app in the Marketplace.
The reason is that Weather View comes with the best set of Live Tiles out there, and being as lazy as I am I always want to see the data without actually opening the app. The live tiles come in two flavors – the standard Metro ones and the one with the current weather’s graphics as a background. Both are equally good and really make Weather View stand out from the crowd.
I’ve used WhatsApp for a while now, and I think that it’s the best cross-platform smartphone messenger available today, and it’s a perfect alternative to sending an SMS to any of your friends. It was one of the first big name apps to come to Windows Phone and its integration is smooth and efficient.
One of its biggest disadvantages is the fact that it’s free… for just a year, and after the first year you have to pay an annual $0.99 subscription. Especially when you see that it’s often free for iOS or Android, this is quite the letdown.
Despite all of this, WhatsApp is still the best of its kind for the moment.
Skype is the other program in the same category, and there’s really not much to say about it – it’s a Skype client. You use it on your phone because you use it everywhere else.
The Skype app for Windows Phone takes advantage of the WP design and it’s great fun to use. You can chat with your friends, call them or video call them, as long as your phone allows this (for instance, my Lumia doesn’t have a front facing camera, so video calls are out of the question).
I like the whole cloud system, and I like to have my documents readily accessible, so SkyDrive and Dropbox apps were a must.
SkyDrive is a good app, and even though I had some trouble with the whole service it’s one that I regularly use. The service’s integration within Windows Phone could render it useless, but SkyDrive is good to have for the times that you need it – it’s great for quick browsing in your files and uploading photos, videos or documents to your SkyDrive account.
BoxFiles for Dropbox is a service that’s far less integrated into Windows Phone, and it’s easy to figure out why. However, it’s extremely useful if you want an extra boost in your cloud storage and I definitely recommend it.
BoxFiles is a great way to view and manage your files, upload pictures or manage your entire account. There’s even an option to pin folders to your start screen for easier access through the live tiles.
This isn’t the official Dropbox app, but it’s pretty darn good, and until the fellas at Dropbox wise up and release an official app this will do just fine.
Really not that much to say about these two. Facebook is your standard Facebook client – at times it’s slow, laggy and buggy, but it gets the job done. I prefer the UI to the one on the iPhone, though.
The YouTube app I found to be just a link to the site’s mobile page, so it’s not that useful. However, I have friends that keep it on the start page for easier access.
Every time I see a movie I like to check it out on IMDb. It’s a habit that I’ve had for years now, and I’m not likely to give it up anytime soon. That’s why the IMDb app was among the first ones I downloaded on my phone.
And I was pleasantly surprised to find one of the best looking apps for a Windows Phone app. These guys know what they’re doing, and they got it right.
On the flip side, recently it has had some problems with frequent crashing, but hopefully they will be fixed in upcoming updates.
If you’re not used to the Bing Maps and want to check out Google Maps instead, I found that gMaps is the perfect way to do so. This is not an official Google application, but it sure as hell feels like one.
You can check out the satellite view (although it’s far inferior to the one offered by Bing Maps), gain access to Google Traffic and even plan your routes and get there with step by step navigation.
Even though this won’t replace my Nokia Maps anytime soon, it’s still a fun toy to play with.
I’ve written about Note Plus back when the entire Snack Studio apps were free. I’d used it before the sale and since, and I can honestly say that it’s my go-to note taking app.
Without a native app that would do this for Windows Phone, Note Plus is a perfectly viable alternative. It even integrates with SkyDrive, allowing you to access your information wherever you are. Alternatively, you can share notes by email or SMS. If you are taking notes of private information, you can protect them with a password.
If you want a more stylish alternative, you can check out Clearer in the Marketplace, available for $0.99. It’s essentially a Clear (for iOS) clone, and it’s got some pretty good reviews.
I’ve talked about the best Reddit apps for Windows Phone before, and of the three (four, including the native mobile version of the site) Reddit apps I like Baconit most. Its developer is in constant contact with users on Reddit, and it’s frequently updated with new features and fixes.
For a more detailed look at Baconit, check out the Reddit apps reviews, I hope all your questions about the app will be answered there.
Weave is a news reader, and marketed as the “world’s best news reader” by its developers. Unlike other similar apps, like the Nextgen Reader, which are only used for Google Reader, Weave gets its news from a wide variety of sources, over 180 being pre-loaded into the app from day one.
You can read the latest articles from ESPN, IGN, Engadget, CNN and a lot more sources and its design makes it extremely easy to do so. You can save an article to Instapaper, share it on Twitter, Facebook, or via e-mail.
The app costs $2.99 in the Marketplace at the moment.
Even though there is an official Foursquare app in the Marketplace, 4th & Mayor is far more used and it’s got quite a fanbase behind it. It’s a quick, simple and feature-filled Foursquare app and you can instantly get used to it. Just like the official application, it’s free and it’s available in Marketplaces all over the world.
Wordamentis the most loved word game for Windows Phone at the moment. Made by Microsoft, this is a game where you have to find as many words as you can, and compete with users from all over the world. It’s got Xbox LIVE support, and its very design is inspired by Metro.
Wordament is available for free in the Marketplace, although, as I’ve noticed, it’s not featured in every country.
One of the first types of apps I searched for was a flashlight. You don’t know when you need one, whether you’re outside or just trying not to bump into furniture on the way to your bed, it’s good to have one installed just in case.
And again, the Marketplace is filled with these apps. There are free and paid alternatives, and each does pretty much the same thing.
I have been using Sunlight ever since I first tried it. It’s as simple and straightforward as you need: you can light the LEDs up constantly or intermittently, turn them on or off from the camera button and make the app run in the background.
I’ve been a fan of sleepyti.me for a long time. It’s a small program that calculates your sleep cycles and tells you when to go to sleep and when to wake up if you want to be refreshed in the morning. Even though I was skeptic at first, I noticed I was a lot less groggy in the morning, even if I hadn’t had my coffee yet.
Sleepy Time for Windows Phone does the same thing, and it lets you choose when you want to wake up and tells you when to go to bed, or the other way around – it tells you when to wake up if you want to go to sleep right now.
At the moment, the app can’t set an alarm on its own, but the developer promises to fix that in the next update.
And that’s just about it. I initially wanted to list a couple of “must have” apps, but as you can see I got a bit carried away. This is what I used to personalize my phone when I got it, and make the most of his features.
What do you think, would you have added something new?