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Windows Phone 7 Apps. What are we missing?



The only thing, in my opinion, that is holding Windows Phone 7 back now is apps. Yes, the Window Phone Marketplace has grown faster than Android and Apple’s app stores but I am impatient. Windows Phone 7 has been out for a little over a year now and they are up to 40,000 apps. There are many mainstream, popular apps already in the Marketplace, but the niche apps are absent.

Here are the types of headlines that bother me: Grand Theft Auto III Headed to iOS and Android on December 15th

It’s not the headline itself, it’s the fact that Windows Phone isn’t being developed for like iOS and Android is.

When I complain about the app selection, I get replies on Twitter from all my Windows Mobile friends telling me ways around using X app or Y app or suggestions apps that don’t really do it right. I appreciate their effort in trying to help me to use Windows Phone 7, but you have to use and iPhone or Android device for a while to really know what Windows Phone 7 is missing. I mean the UI is awesome, the OS itself is stable, and I have very few complaints aside from this app obsession. I talked about already in part 6 of my “Moving from Android to Windows Phone 7” series.

I started thinking that I am the only one complaining about this, but I was reassured yesterday when an old bud Noah Kravitz tweeted this:

Here are some apps Steven Hughes and I put together so far.

For me, it’s Swype, Pandora, SiriusXM, Fantasy Football, ESPN Fantasy Football, and a few others.

Based on feedback from friends, here are some other highly desired apps missing from the Windows Phone portfolio:

  • VPN client
  • Waze
  • Zinio
  • SiriusXM (SatRadPlayer 3rd party)
  • Xfinity
  • HBO Go
  • Max Go
  • Showtime
  • Sonos (Fonos 3rd party)
  • Mint
  • Tweetdeck
  • Harmony Remote control app
  • Dropbox client
  • client
  • Square (reader support for reading credit cards)
  • Business card reader that allows writing to People Hub (no API currently available only work around is to save to a gmail contact)

What apps would prevent you from switching over to Windows Phone 7?

There is no doubt that a well done Windows Phone 7 app can be much sexier than the iOS and Android versions!



  1. Anonymous

    12/06/2011 at 9:32 pm

  2. Dig The Noise

    12/07/2011 at 11:46 am

    Had, and still have, WP7 since February.  Was really missing Remote Desktop when I first got it (I manage 4 data centers), but that’s there now.  I’d like to see some things come sooner than later — VPN, ESPN, connection to my home media server, and NFC — but I no longer have any “gotta haves”.

    • Chris Leckness

      12/07/2011 at 6:03 pm


      If Windows Phone continues to gain steam, the development of many apps that iOS and Android users are used to that Windows Phone doesn’t have will come. I know a few developers that won’t bother until Windows Phone gets more popular.

      • Anonymous

        12/07/2011 at 8:37 pm

        Well, it is getting more popular. Especially in Europe, search around on the web. Waiting to see what plans Microsoft and Nokia have for USA next year…

        • Chris Leckness

          12/07/2011 at 8:50 pm

          Yes. I can see an increase in buzz in my twitter and google alert searches about WP7. The money Microsoft is throwing into advertising and parties over the last month seems to be helping as well. 

          Here’s to hoping that the trend continues.

          Just think outside the box with me though… A normal user, not geeks like most that are reading and writing here, goes out and grabs a Samsung Focus S from AT&T after using the iPhone 3G for the last 2-3 years. He/she is wowed by the sexy metro UI. The salesperson wows them with how fast setting the phone up is with a Windows Live ID and their Facebook and Twitter details. 

          He/she gets home and starts hunting apps. They will find many, and in most cases, the main apps are going to impress. (since many of the social media apps are much better on WP7 than the other two OSes) They start finding apps that they can’t find. Like my few apps, most aren’t a deal breaker, but could 10-15 apps missing that they used on the iPhone be enough for a “normal” user to second guess their choice?

          Geeks will search for replacements and/or make concessions (as one of you mentioned regarding Pandora in the browser). Will “regular” users settle? Maybe. Maybe not.

  3. Anonymous

    12/07/2011 at 4:20 pm

    so essentially you are unhappy because there are a couple of apps that are not present on WP7, and for some of them there are alternatives?

    There are any number of twitter apps.

    If you want a Harmony Remote app, buy the remote, no big deal.

    Dropbox or – why in the world would you want that when you have SkyDrive (25 GB) and Live Mesh.

    Radio app alternatives exist, but why bother when you can get Zune Pass.

    After reading your article, I would have to assume that even if MS gave you EVERYTHING on the list you asked for, you would still complain.

    • Chris Leckness

      12/07/2011 at 6:00 pm

      Yes, that’s about right. After being a Windows Mobile MVP for 7 years, leaving Windows Mobile when Windows Phone was released, and now returning again… I expected more. I will continue to expect more until Microsoft catches up. The OS is impressive, but I have been spoiled by apps with the iPhone and Android over the past year.

      Twitter apps, yes… I am aware that there are numerous apps. I have tested almost every one of them.

      No comment on the Harmony remote app. That is all. :)

      Some people prefer drobox over Skydrive, myself included. 

      Radio apps. XM Radio app to be specific. The talk radio shows I listen to are not available anywhere but XM. The 2 XM radio apps on the marketplace do not have the particular channel I listen to available. 

      After reading your comment, I would have to assume that this is the 1st article of mine you’ve ever read. See what I did there?

      Oh and BTW, a couple of apps ≠ 460,000 apps.

      • Anonymous

        12/07/2011 at 8:32 pm

        Yeah, but how many of those 460,000 apps do you really use Chris?! That number is meaningless with hundreds and thousands of worthless apps that are out there. The list of apps that you provide in your article is good to have and not really a show stopper of any kind. Sure, it would be good to have a card reader, but its a niche app. Mint is already working on a WP7 app. Pandora works very well in IE9 and a good number of WP7 users don’t really care about Pandora as Zune and now Nokia Music on Nokia WP7 devices work beautifully. Spotify is a cool 3rd party app in this category that you could also use. Not sure if you are aware of the built-in radio FM/AM feature in all Windows Phones. Plenty of options for music already!

        Pandora is late to the eco-system and its their loss not to be here just like it is for some of the others that you listed.

        And, I will go further in this arguement. Why do you forget to mention that WP7 has built-in support for Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote)? No other device comes with this app. XBox Live and games and now the XBox companion app is only available on WP7 devices. These are added advantages over iOS or Android.

        • Chris Leckness

          12/07/2011 at 8:34 pm

          I agree, but for the 5-6 apps that are making this transition difficult, imagine 1000’s of less patient users. I might rely on Pandora and other apps but someone else has another list. That’s the point of this article really. Not to discuss my petty 5-6 apps, but to discuss apps others are having difficulties with. 

          Oh and btw, on my HTC Titan, Pandora in IE does not work,

        • Chris Leckness

          12/07/2011 at 8:42 pm

          I didn’t see the last paragraph. Just wondering, have you read my other articles regarding my transition? I praised WP7 for Xbox and Zune integration. I didn’t mention Office because I personally could care less about that. 

  4. Anonymous

    12/07/2011 at 10:46 pm

    Chris, replying to all your messages here since the reply link is now hidden above. Most iPhone users (yes, there are a few who fall in love with WP7) are not transitioning to WP7 platform yet. WP7 is excellent for users who have never experienced a smartphone before. It is also a great and refreshing experience for Android users that move over to WP7.

    You cannot expect WP7 marketplace to have all the apps that exist for eco-systems that have been around longer. Having said that, the WP7 marketplace is one of the fastest growing in the industry right now. So, all your app concerns should me mitigated in coming months.

    Just tried on a Samsung Focus (first generation WP7) and I admit it being a bit rought, but it works. Frankly, having so many other options, I really didn’t feel the need to even use Pandora.

    Office is a very important piece of the puzzle, especially for enterprise customers. OneNote is a great note taking app. Outlook is precious!

  5. Mrmx227

    12/08/2011 at 6:36 pm

    Twitter is integrated in Mango…shouldnt really need an app

    • Chris Leckness

      12/08/2011 at 8:17 pm

      Sure, for reading twitter only, it’s fine. If you want much more functionality, you need to use a 3rd party app since Twitter’s official client is also quite anemic. Twitter apps aren’t a problem though, they are there in the Marketplace in abundance. 

      • wp7loyalist

        12/17/2011 at 5:27 am

        There is a radio app for wp7 called slacker. Works much like Pandora, its one of few things that kept me with wp7

  6. Madiha

    06/25/2012 at 1:18 pm

    HELLO can any please help me for giving unique project idea for windows phone i did lots of searching but did’nt got unique idea…..:( please help me..

  7. Robert Tonnessen

    09/26/2012 at 1:18 am

    I know this is a bit late…..but from a developers point of view it was not possible at the time of your debate for a serious developer to get involved with WP7 as the API was like MEGABLOCKS for children. Hell, I can’t even get the battery life, the WIFI signal strength, no access to bluetooth, no access to the led on the camera. NO SOCKETS…. the list goes on. When you restrict the API to child level, You get HD BABES and FART APP PRO apps all day long. If I worked for Microsoft in the app QA dep…I would want to die.

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