11/8/2012 Update: The list is shrinking. The following apps from my top 10 below are now available on the Windows Phone Marketplace:
As of this update, there are now over 120,000 apps in the marketplace, which was renamed Windows Phone Store.
I love my Windows Phone. I recently upgraded my Samsung Focus which I had been using for 15 months, and got a sexy new Nokia Lumia 800. I’m not the only one who got a new phone though. My wife was eligible for an AT&T upgrade and wanted the iPhone 4S, so we bought that for her. That meant I could get my old iPhone 3GS back from her, which I used as my primary phone for almost 2 years from 2008 to 2010.
I may be a Windows Phone Development MVP, but I have a lot of respect for what Apple did. If it wasn’t for the iPhone, we would not have Windows Phone or Android today. I’m also an iPad user (until I can get a production Windows 8/WOA tablet, hopefully later this year), so I always keep an eye on the cool apps in the Apple App Store.
Looking at all the apps in my iPhone, it got me thinking about some key apps that are still missing on my Windows Phone. One of the chief complaints I hear about Windows Phone is “there are not enough apps”, which I think is a stupid statement. There are over 65,000 apps in the Windows Phone Marketplace, but people say it’s not enough compared to the 500,000 apps in the Apple App Store. Sure, over 99% of these apps are crap, or useless, or gimmicks, but people are easily impressed by big numbers.
A proper statement about the Windows Phone Marketplace would be “some cool apps I like are missing”. And again, this is normal. iPhone and Android have a head start on Windows Phone since the latter has only been around for 16 months, and considering the following numbers, Windows Phone is doing quite well:
- No of Apple App Store apps after 16 months: 100,000+ (let’s not forget the App Store launched 13 months AFTER the iPhone was released)
- No of Android Market apps after 16 months: 2,300+ (and it took 4 extra months after launch before paid apps were supported)
- No of Windows Phone Marketplace apps after 16 months: 65,000+
So Apple was doing much better after 16 months, but that was still a virgin market, and the Windows Phone marketplace is faring way better than Google was. In fact, it took Android 21 months to do what Windows Phone did in 16.
But none of this matters to the individual user if the apps they want are not available. Which is why I’m presenting you with MY Top 10 iPhone Apps Missing on Windows Phone. Mind you, these are the apps *I* feel are missing, your list is probably very different. I also decided to omit games from the list, leaving that for another day.
Missing Windows Phone Apps
I’ve been spoiled by Flipboard on my iPad, and I have yet to find a really good news reader that properly aggregates RSS feeds and Google Reader, let alone include its own news sources, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn like Flipboard does. The iPhone version is not as good as the iPad’s of course, but I would happily take it over anything else I’ve seen on Windows Phone.
I’m not an avid day trader, but my wife and I do have a modest portfolio on e*Trade and being able to quickly access it on a mobile phone is pretty convenient. Thankfully I can use my iPad version, but that is not an alterative for everyone.
***Update: e*Trade was released on the Windows Phone Store on 9/17/2012***
3. ADT Pulse
My house is protected by a really nice ADT Home Security System, which features ADT Pulse, a remote home monitoring and control system. It’s happened that we’d leave the house and forgot to set the alarm, and in every occasion, we’ve used the ADT Pulse app on my old iPhone or my wife’s own to remotely activate the alarm. I really want to do this from my Windows Phone.
Audible is a fan favorite. I use it for audio books but also for my Pimsleur language lessons. It’s pretty bad that even on my iPad I have to use the iPhone version, so I wonder how long until I get a Windows Phone version.
***Update: Audible was released on the Windows Phone Marketplace on 6/21/2012***
5. Continental / United
I’m a Continental Elite frequent flyer, so needless to say how convenient it can be to look at schedules, book flights, check waiting lists for upgrades and such. United recently discontinued their Continental app as they are still merging systems , so hopefully they use this opportunity to publish a cool Windows Phone app so I can stop using their mobile website.
It baffles me how a social media company like LinkedIn ignores phone platforms, but then again LinkedIn is more a follower than a pioneer. Regardless, their site can be a really powerful tool when used properly, and I want that tool on my Windows Phone!
***Update: LinkedIn was released on the Windows Phone Marketplace on 5/12/2012***
7. HBO Go
I travel a lot for work. I pay for HBO. TV channel selections in hotels suck. I want to watch HBO in my room… or at the airport when my flight is delayed. Netflix is giving me my TV fix on the road, but Game of Thrones is not on Netflix, so can I have HBO Go on Windows Phone please?
I always call Zinio the “best kept secret on the iPad”. I know a lot of people use it, but it’s amazing how many iPad users have never heard of it. The iPhone version is not as good and does not show you all your magazines, but it’s better than nothing… which is what we get on Windows Phone.
I prefer Live Mesh to Dropbox, and then there’s SkyDrive, which has more free storage, but no sync functionality… yet. The bottom line is a lot of people use Dropbox and they share stuff with me, or I want to share stuff with them. Dropbox needs to stay competitive, and having an *official* Windows Phone client would not hurt (there are lots of clones and unofficial Dropbox apps available).
10. Google Maps
In late 2008 I made the switch from Google to Bing, including Bing Maps. In fact, for 3 years I was making a living from selling Bing Maps solutions at my old job. Bing Maps is much better than Google Maps IMHO, however, there will always be regions where Google Maps is better (and vice versa), especially in the Caribbean. For those occasions, I want an official Google Maps app. There is a decent unofficial version on Windows Phone (gMaps), but I want the real deal. It probably will never happen though.
***Update: With the release of iOS 6 and Apple Maps in September 2012, even iOS lost its Google Maps support. It’s rumored that Google is trying to submit a new separate version of the app, but we’re still waiting***
I’m not a big Pandora user, but I know many people are, which is why I decided to add Pandora at #11 in my Top 10. I think Spotify is quickly becoming a more popular alternative though, and we do have it on Windows Phone.
***Update: Microsoft announced at the Windows Phone 8 launch that Pandora is coming in 2013 and will include 1 full year of service for free***
Looking Ahead to Future Apps
You might be saying there are equivalent apps in the Windows Phone Marketplace, but I think it is important that a company publish official apps for their own brands, and then let other developers design a better version if they want (like Jeff Wilcox’s 4th & Mayor, an alternative to the official Foursquare app). I’m also not a big fan of mobile Web versions of websites when I know how much better the experience can be in a native app.
Hopefully these missing apps, and many more big brands, will come to Windows Phone soon. If you’re a Windows Phone developer, you can even try to convince these companies to work with you to build them. Make sure to try our cool enterprise-class Windows Phone controls too while you’re at it. As some of these apps get released, I’ll be sure to update my list. I’m truly hoping this list will get cut by at least half by the end of 2012.
Is this list of omissions worth NOT getting a Windows Phone for? No. Not for me. My Windows Phones are by far the best phones I’ve ever had, the experience gets better with every release, Nokia has raised the bar on the hardware front, and the Windows Phone Marketplace is growing at a rate of more than 1,000 new apps / month. It may still be a hard sell to convince fanbois to ditch their iPhones, but I’ve done it, and Windows Phone is certainly a MUCH better alternative to adopting Android when you’re ready to ditch your Blackberry, Windows Mobile or Symbian phone.
TL;DR: From Flipboard and Audible to Pandora and Dropbox, Windows Phone is missing key mobile apps in its Marketplace. Regardless, Windows Phone still has over 65,000 apps and growing, and more than worth the upgrade from Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile or Symbian.
Which other iPhone apps can’t you live without? Which apps would you like to see on Windows Phone? Share your picks/lists with me by commenting here or ping me on Twitter at @ActiveNick.