Windows Phone 7 is not yet a major player in the smartphone space, but we think it will be soon. With the release of Mango (version 7.5), the OS is finally beginning to mature. A few weeks back, Microsoft revealed that the platform now has 25,000 apps, so we decided to take a little tour and find some of the best apps in the Windows Phone Marketplace. These apps represent the best we’ve seen so far, but this list will be periodically expanded and updated. If you have suggestions or want to share an app you love, please let us know in the comments below! We’ve only begun to dig into the store, so we’re sure there are plenty of other apps we haven’t yet tried out.
Do you wish you could read your favorite websites while you drive to work in the morning? Do you ever find yourself bumping into strangers as you try to finish reading a Digital Trends article while walking along the road? This app is for you. It translates text articles from a wide variety of popular, categorized websites into audio. Now you can listen to the latest articles from your favorite websites, or even create your own radio stations based on your top picks.
Here’s a solid personal fitness app that you can use to track your training progress. It employs your GPS to record time, distance, calories burned, and a host of other useful stats about your exercise session. It’s ideal for running, walking, and cycling, but you can use it to manually enter indoor workouts as well, for a complete overview of your fitness. Routes are recorded, there’s a Live Tile for at-a-glance stats, and if you upload to the Runtastic website you’ll get a full analysis of your activities.
You can quickly and easily scan your documents and save them on your smartphone with this app. If you need to sign a form, scan it, and email it, then this is ideal. You can also use it for scanning receipts, articles, photos, business cards, anything you might use a traditional scanner for. You can save documents in JPG or PDF format and upload them directly to cloud services like SkyDrive or Dropbox. You can also send them via email. There is a free version, but it doesn’t support PDF.
There’s no Instagram on Windows Phone, but this app could be the next best thing. It’s packed with filters, lightening effects, and borders to help you transform your photos into works of art. Aesthetically, it obviously owes a debt to Instagram, but it’s very accessible and intuitive to use, and you can get some great results if you experiment. There’s social media integration for easy sharing and backing up your shots.
Any Windows Phone user with a taste for tweeting should check out the beautifully integrated Rowi app. It matches the Metro user interface style so it doesn’t feel like a separate app. It’s packed with features for power users, but remains accessible for casual tweeters as well. You can customize the user interface and filter your timeline, but there’s also support for photo editing and uploading, and you can save content to read later as it integrates with apps like Pocket. It could be the best Twitter client in the Windows Phone store.
Rhapsody (Free trial, $10-$15 monthly subscription)
As one of the big names in music streaming, Rhapsody offers a solid user experience and opens the door to millions of songs. Thanks to a recent app update, you can now download music and listen to it when you are offline. It’s a good solution for sharing your music collection across devices, and it’s also a powerful music discovery tool. You can try out a free trial to see if it works for you and decide on whether the $10 or $15 per month subscription is worth it.
Here’s a photography app from Microsoft for WP8. It allows you to catch a burst of images so that you don’t miss that perfect shot. You can discard the blurred shot or the one where their eyes are closed. It captures a series of 16 shots and it’s very easy to use. Review the photos you’ve captured and just keep the best one.
Weather Flow ($2)
You can probably guess what this app is all about. With Weather Flow, you have a wide choice of Live Tile styles and settings to get your flow of the latest weather news. You can also get forecasts and live updates direct to your lock screen. It supports multiple locations and you can decide how often you want the info to update. For easy to set up, fully customizable, reliable weather on Windows Phone, this app justifies the price tag.
Xbox SmartGlass (Free)
If you’ve bought into Microsoft’s smartphone platform then there’s a good chance you’ve got an Xbox 360 console as well. The SmartGlass app is essential if you do. It allows you to use your Windows Phone as a remote control for your console. You can browse and use the touchscreen as a keyboard, which is very handy. It gets better. You can also enjoy a second screen experience with selected entertainment. You might find additional information on a TV show or movie that you’re watching, or get a map for a game you’re playing. There are lots of exciting possibilities.
We know that Windows Phone is lagging behind Android and iOS when it comes to apps, but there are a lot of options in the Windows Phone marketplace now (more than 120,000). AppSwitch is a clever tool that assists anyone switching from another platform to Windows Phone. It is designed to find your favorite apps from Android or iOS on Windows Phone, or to suggest alternatives that are similar.
Stay up to date with your professional network on the go with the official LinkedIn app. It looks great on the Windows Phone platform and it performs well too. You can connect with new people, keep up to date with your groups, search for new jobs, and share content with your contacts. There are more than 160 million LinkedIn users now and it can be a great tool to further your career.
This is a great app for movie fans. It pulls in ratings from Rotten Tomatoes, which aggregates reviews from critics and audiences. It also allows you to watch movie trailers on your phone and when you identify a film you want to see, you can use the app to find show times for a theater near you. Don’t run the risk of having to sit through a turkey, do a quick check on Flixster first and make sure it’s worth the price of admission.
4th and Mayor (Free)
It may have an odd name, but 4th and Mayor is an awesome Foursquare client, outdoing even Foursquare’s own official app. You can check in, add photos to places, and access a fun leaderboard. We really like the Windows Phone “Metro” look of the app and how easy it is to browse nearby locations and add pictures. If you’re a regular Foursquare user, this may get you hooked. You can’t find 4th and Mayor anywhere but in the Windows Phone Marketplace.
Netflix (Free, Netflix subscription required)
It’s still difficult to get Netflix on an Android phone, but the WP7 version works great across all devices. The setup process doesn’t even require you to use a confirmation code, as you usually have to do when setting up external devices on Netflix. Just log in with your email and password and you’re good to go. We found the interface to be fully featured and well-designed compared to other Netflix apps for devices like the Xbox and Wii. You can search up anything available on Netflix Instant Streaming, browse movies and shows by genre, add or remove programs from your Instant Queue, rate shows — the whole shebang. On a Wi-Fi connection, our video quality was extremely high for a mobile device too, and Netflix does a good job of detecting your connection speed and appropriately picking the right quality of video so it won’t skip and looks as good as it can.
Cocktail Flow ($2.99)
There have been a lot of bartending apps over the years, but few have been worthwhile. It’s not hard to make a list of cocktails and mixed drinks, but that’s just not compelling. Cocktail Flow takes it to a new level. Using a beautiful graphical interface, you physically click on all the different liquors, juices, and drinks you have at home. Then, using the power of algorithms, the app shows you some possible mix drinks you can make right now. The app also suggests what ingredients you might want to buy to open up new cocktail possibilities as well and lets you mark drinks that are your favorites. Some basics on glassware, garnishes, and other tricks are also included. Cocktail Flow is one of the first bartending apps to truly grab our attention. Check it out.
MyThings ($2.99, lite version is free)
If you’re a list maker, MyThings is an app you’ll need. It lets you create task lists with due dates, levels of importance, and notifies you when they’re about due. It’s simple, but effective, and quite welcome as WP7 does not come with a good task manager. It could still use a couple features, like recurring tasks and Live Tile notifications, but we expect these enhancements will come in time.
Amazon’s Kindle service has a lot of competition from the likes of Google eBooks and the Barnes & Noble Nook, but nobody is on as many platforms as Amazon. Taking a Netflix approach, Amazon is hard to pass up simply because it’s available in so many places. The Kindle library has quite a few free books and roughly a million different books, newspapers, and magazines to check out. Anything you buy in the Windows Phone app will become available on any other device with a Kindle app and on the Web, meaning you can continue reading from almost anywhere. Thanks to Amazon’s Whispersync, it even saves your page in the book. Very cool. We’re hoping that Windows Phone gets more e-book apps and an Audible.com app soon.
Thumba Photo Editor ($0.99)
Whether you need to fix some red eye before uploading a picture to Facebook or you just feel the urge to give your latest captured landscape the perfect frame, sometimes it’s nice to have a photo editor handy. Thumba Photo Editor is one of the finer examples of such a tool. This app was built to make your images look good. Add filters and frames, adjust brightness and hues, flip, crop, or rotate with nothing more than you fingertips. It even has GPS location tags and social media sharing. Thumba Photo Editor is like Instagram on steroids.
What do you think of our list of the best Windows Phone 7 apps? Did we miss something? Let us know in the comments below.