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?
Recent Reviews - Applications - Page 29
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.
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?
The Metro UI hides a lot of the established chrome around the screen of a smartphone. While the time stays visible in the top right corner (mostly), other details, such as the connectivity status, are hidden away till you tap the top of the screen or call up a menu. But how to actually change the status of the Wifi, the 3G, the Bluetooth and the other connectivity options? You can either dive into the menu system... or you can run Toggle.
It really does feel like Windows Phone has rebooted itself with Mango. New devices, lots of press coverage, and an acceleration of notable names bringing their apps to the Marketplace. Spotify is one of those names. It's recognisable not just in tech circles but as a brand name that's in the public consciousness. And now the mobile client reaches Windows Phone.
If you like to download podcasts over the air, then Windows Phone 7 might leave you a tad frustrated. Even though Mango can download podcast episodes under its own steam, you still have to add subscriptions from the Zune Desktop. If you want to be completely independent of using a PC, then third party applications are the way to go. One such option is "Podcasts! Pro" (including the awkward exclamation mark). Read on to find out how well this solution can work around the limitations of WP7.
I'm flying home from BlogWorld Expo in Los Angeles (you know, where I've been doing the video diaries). By the time this is posted, I'll probably be home and Rafe will have me under the thumb to do some detailed write-ups on the Lumia 800. But before then, time for a quick look at the American Airlines application for Windows Phone.