Information on the go. That's what a mobile phone is good for, be it a voice call, a text, or the news headlines. The Guardian newspaper in the UK has a strong track record of innovation online, and its Windows Phone application promises its editorial content and news in a Metro UI styled interface. It delivers on that promise, and with a little bit more. But is it enough to beat its mobile website?
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A lot of fuss is made over navigation on the surface of the Earth, but there's far more real estate above our heads than there is just past the Basingstoke roundabout. And while some of us might be able to pick out the celestial highlights, there's far more stars, constellations, planets and galaxies to explore. You could guess, or you could download the planetarium of SkyMap.
I am a big eBook reader and, as such, the whole Amazon Kindle project has a lot of fascination for me. Tapping into an eBook application, with a full store behind it and a significant number of printed books available for instant purchase and download... What's not to love? Well it is a bit of a closed shop on Windows Phone, but that quirk aside, there's little to fault Kindle on Windows Phone.
Let's get something straightened out right at the start. This is not Nintendogs. In no way should you draw that conclusion, while you wash your cub, play ball with it, teach it tricks, earn money to buy food and drink... this is not Nintendogs. After all, in Kinectimals you're training your cubs so you can open up new areas on the island of Lemuria to explore - you've nothing like that in the puppy simulator for the DS. Oh no. Completely different....
I'm a big fan of casual games on phones - for me, sitting down for an hour's gaming on a tiny 4" screen isn't my idea of immersive fun. But I do love quick games that can while away a minute or two waiting for a bus or waiting in line..... Hooked on Darts fits right in with this game philosophy, simplifying the actual game while still keeping it fun.
For a long time, playing Chess meant you had to find someone to play against. The home computer revolution changed that and provided everyone with an opponent that could seriously challenge them (and in the process probably upset a lot of casual players with the strength of the digital grandmasters). Chess by Post, from Jeff Cole, takes another approach, returning Chess to a human v human struggle, spread around the world. Of course what the Internet means "by Post" doesn't require a letter being sent around the world, but relayed through a server, letting everyone play at their own pace.
One of the current poster children in start-up land is Groupon. No matter how it spins the back-story, it's a brand that has a globally recognised name, a simple mission statement, and benefits the three parties involved in each transaction - the customer buying the voucher, the companies using the vouchers as advertising to drive public awareness, and Groupon itself when it takes a cut on the sale. Part of that flow means that Groupon's time limited deals need to get to the potential customers as quickly as possible. Say through a mobile application on your Windows Phone?
It's one of those URL's that's burned into my brain. XE.com, the place I go to find out how much my money is going to be worth when I travel to another country and do the currency exchange. Will its Windows Phone app replace me punching up the site in Internet Explorer? Probably not, but there are some advantages to tucking this away on your smartphone.
And the fascination with Weather applications continues. It's now the turn of StormGlass, a free app from Ananthonline that focusses on giving you all the information in a Live Tile, rather than in a screen-based view. It's an approach ideally suited to the Metro UI, which technically works well. But weather tiles are also about emotion and personal connection. Has StormGlass got what it takes?
A long time ago, Pete Cooke converted Stunt Car Racer for the ZX Spectrum (Geoff Crammond, of Grand Prix fame, did the original). That saw me take a souped up, jet boosted stunt car and drive it around a rollercoaster-like track to set the fastest time possible, balancing the car on the track, using the limited jet fuel, and positioning the car for the jumps, drawbridges, and perilous corners. Jet Car Stunts WP is exactly like that on Windows Phone - it just moves a little bit faster, with more colours, and better graphics.