Now, I should perhaps point out that I'm talking about 'applications' here, not 'games'. The latter comprising a pretty large chunk of the top charts on other platforms. Plus, each platform breaks down applications into 'Paid' and 'Free'. So, in a bid to try and stay on-topic, what I've done below is pick the top applications from both paid and free lists, on both Android and iOS, and hopefully you'll recognise just about every entry listed below. But can Windows 10 Mobile's ecosystem provide a match?
Where there's no match at all, I'll shade the cell in red, for ease of reading:
|#||Application (iOS/Android combined)||Present or equivalent?|
|1||Whatsapp Messenger||Available and working well|
|2||Netflix||Available and working well|
|3||Facebook Messenger||Available and working well|
|4||YouTube||Ahem. That old Google spat. Still, there are at least four top quality third party YouTube clients. Metrotube still my favourite.|
|5||Available and working well, albeit with 'BETA' tag still
|6||Snapchat||Not available under any name or version|
|7||Comes with Windows 10 Mobile, kept up to date|
|8||Shpock boot sale||Not available, I'd never heard of this before, mind you! An app of the same name is a fraud|
|9||Spotify Music||Available and working well
|10||Google Photos||Microsoft Photos does the same job in this ecosystem, of course. Annoyingly, you can't get to Google's version even via the Web though|
|11||Skype||Built into Windows 10 Mobile Messaging, as seamless as SMS, in theory|
|12||eBay||Available and works, though some activities (e.g. checking feedback) are limited|
|13||Google Maps||Microsoft Maps does a similar job, with better offline capabilities but worse live traffic routing|
|14||Available and working well, including a dark theme, unlike the iOS/Android official clients
|15||Google Search/Now||Cortana is the direct rival, of course, and does just as good a job. See here for my assistant voice comparison|
|16||Amazon (Shopping)||Available and kept updated, though has been glitchy for some. Comments welcome.|
|17||SoundCloud||Nothing official, but the API is so good that there are a dozen third party clients. And yes, I've been meaning to attempt a round-up...|
|18||Tinder||Nothing official, but there are several decent third party clients, including 6tin and Timber.
|19||Nothing official, but there are several decent third party clients, including pin.it
|20||BBC iPlayer||Available and works well, though without the ability to download for temporary offline watching. There's probably a DRM-related reason behind this....|
|21||ITV Player||Available and working well|
|22||JUST EAT - Takeaway food||Available and working well
|23||Shazam||Available and working well
|24||Deezer Music||Available and working well
|25||Uber||Available and works, albeit with a slightly quirky UI|
|26||CM Security Antivirus||You don't need anti-virus on Windows 10 Mobile - no, really. Because you can't get 'dodgy' apps from unknown sources|
|27||Microsoft Outlook||Built into Windows 10 Mobile, obviously(!)|
|28||Minecraft Pocket Edition||Part app, part game, Minecraft remains a phenomenon, but firmly available on Windows 10 Mobile, thanks to Microsoft's ownership of Mojang.|
|29||The Official DVSA Theory TEST Kit||Several alternatives, though none are 'official'|
|30||Facetune||Available here, though not found by the hopeless search in the Windows 10 Mobile Store client. And avoid the current 'scam' titles in the Store that do show up with this name. Microsoft Store QA should be ashamed...|
|31||Flightradar24- Flight Tracker||Available and working well, though a few of the newer features haven't made it yet|
|32||Super-Bright LED Torch||LED torch is built into the drop-down Action Center in Windows 10 Mobile|
|33||Microsoft Word||Built into Windows 10 Mobile, obviously(!)|
|34||ZEDGE Ringtones & Wallpapers||Available|
|35||Gumtree||Nothing available, though the mobile web site works really well, so....|
|36||Layout from Instagram||Nothing official, though there are several third party equivalents if you really, truly want to make collages out of low-res snaps....|
|37||Plane Finder||Nothing available. (Though Flightradar24 does such a good job....)|
|38||Viber||Available and working well|
|39||Gmail||Obviously handled by Outlook's Google account support, though there's also MetroMail if you want a more 'core' Gmail experience|
|40||Dropbox||Available and working well|
That's not a bad report card for a platform widely perceived to have a yawning 'app gap', though before anyone relaxes, I'd add three huge caveats:
- Where there's not an obvious official application for a service, some of the third party replacements are downright opportunistic, merely existing to scoop up search results and serve ads or worse. Again, there's a lot more that Microsoft Store QA (if, indeed, they employ anybody - I do wonder sometimes!) could do here.
- Although in many cases the third party replacements are very good (e.g. Metrotube for YouTube, 6tin for Tinder), their naming is not obvious. While the Store application correctly throws them up as valid search results for the original service or site, user confidence isn't going to be very high in terms of them having found what they're looking for....
- A cursory look at 'top 40' applications, as here, completely misses a bigger failing for a minority platform like Windows 10 Mobile, i.e. that there's a 'long tail' of lesser used but critical applications that are missing altogether. Archetypal here are banking apps, though also niche utilities and corporate/database stuff - and it usually only takes one "Oh, Windows doesn't have that!" moment to dismiss the entire platform.
We're still living with a platform that can suit millions of users then, but a lot depends on what someone needs a Windows 10 Mobile device for. As per the third caveat above, as long as there's not some critical application that's missing then there's a lot recommend about Windows 10 Mobile, in terms of UI and capabilities.
Using the 'report card' analogy, I'd go with "Improving, but could do better". Comments welcome!