I see a lot of people looking at cell phones on my way to work every day, and the number-one thing I see them doing is looking through their Facebook newsfeed. These days, not having Facebook is pretty much like not having a telephone. The built-in Windows Phone People app lets you hook up your Facebook (and Twitter) contacts and see the latest updates, but the official Facebook app
lets you do every kind of Facebooking—posting updates, photos, and check-ins. You can pin tiles to the home screen for Facebook messages, places check-in, or groups, as well as just for the overall app. One of our absolute favorite features, though, is that you can have the app set your lock screen to cycle through your top-liked photos.
Windows Phone Store Link: Facebook
2. Skype The video phone is here, and it’s Skype
! Of course, your videocalling partner doesn’t need a Windows Phone: You can Skype with anyone on just about any platform you can think of—Android, iPhone, Mac, or Windows PCs. And there’s a whole lot more to Skype than just the marquee video-chatting feature: It also lets you send instant messages, and make calls and send SMS texts to regular cell and land phones for very low rates.
Windows Phone Store Link: Skype
What’s the point of having a smart phone if it doesn’t show you where the nearest Starbucks, pizza place, bar, or gas station is? You could use the built in maps for this, but Yelp
is the last world on crowd-sourced ratings for all manner of local storefronts. The Yelp community is the best measuring stick I’ve found for ratings of local establishments. You can also check in for deals and add your own reviews right from the app.
Windows Phone Store Link: Yelp
4. The Weather Channel
With all the drastic weather that’s been going on during this past year, you really never know what to expect. Today in New York is a good example: The day started out in the mid-50s, but is going down to 5 degrees at night. You could really be in trouble if not for consulting an app like the Weather Channel. Yes, like iPhone, Windows Phone comes with a tolerable weather app pre-loaded. Like the stock app, the Weather Channel’s Windows Phone app
But it offers far more detailed weather information from a reliable source in a pleasing and clear design. In it you’ll find radar maps, hourly and ten-day forecasts, and videos of local and general interest. Extras include the severe weather center and the ability to browse user-contributed iWitness weather photos.
Windows Phone Store Link: The Weather Channel
Twitter seems like such a simple thing: write 140-character microblog entries and subscribe to those of other people. But what about seeing full conversations or dealing with multiple accounts? The Windows Phone Twitter app
lets you do these things in an ad-free, clearly designed user interface. It also lets you include photos and location with your tweets, and you can watch Vine videos right inside the app.
Windows Phone Store Link: Twitter
The smallest screen has gotten bigger, and now provides a reasonable way to view video entertainment. As the predominant source of streaming movie and TV show content, Netflix is the go-to source for such entertainment, and the Windows Phone Netflix app
is up to the task. It lets you continue watching shows you started on a bigger device, or choose new selections and add them to your queue. It’s full-featured yet minimalist player interface make for a viewing experience that’s just right.
Windows Phone Store Link: Netflix
Listening to your favorite music on the go is a mobile must. The Windows Phone Pandora app
lets you do just this. It was officially completely ad-free till the start of 2014, but I still don’t notice ads in the app. The streaming music service has a genre and even sub-genres for every taste. Though you can’t specify exact songs for your playlists, you can skip up to 6 songs that don’t please. The app lets you pin your favorite stations as start screen tiles, which display the currently playing song, as does the lock screen. It even knows to block explicit songs if a child’s account is using the mobile. Just as important as any of this is the services top-notch sound quality.
Windows Phone Store Link: Pandora
Windows Phone users shouldn’t have to miss out on the best personal finance management service, Mint
, and now they don’t have to. The Mint app for Windows Phone may not match every feature found in the iPhone and Android versions, but it does an excellent job nevertheless. The app, with a clean, clear design gives you instant access to your account balances, financial transactions and spending habits, and budgets. It also alerts you to unusual spending patterns.
Windows Phone Store Link: Mint
I was a real Vine
skeptic when it first came out: Six seconds? What can you show in six seconds? It turns out that a lot of very clever Vine users have proven me wrong, in this video version of Twitter. The Windows Phone app lets you enjoy all those mini-vidis from your followeds and even shoot and upload your own. It does lack a couple of its iPhone counterpart’s shooting helpers like the ghosting feature for stop motion, but it does have everything you need to get your Vine on.
Windows Phone Store Link: Vine
I know that there’s now an official Instagram app for Windows Phone
that’s perfectly serviceable even though it’s still in beta, and I know it’s a top downloaded app. But 6tag
, at least for now, offers a far richer Instagram experience, You get in-app photo and video shooting (not in the official app) with all the filters, tagging, and so on. It even offers a cool map view of your photos. The latest version even lets you save videos to your SkyDrive cloud storage. My only concern is the possibility of Instagram shutting down 6tag’s API access, in which case you can simply switch to the official app.
Windows Phone Store Link: 6tag