Disclaimer:, The views and opinions expressed in this post are solely my own and I’m not getting paid or compensated for anything. I am also an employee of Microsoft but try not to drink the Kool-Aid too much.
[Update 2012-01-02: It appears posting Windows Phone app recommendations is making the rounds on the web today. My friends Jeff Blankenburg and Sarah Dutkiewicz have also posted recommendations. Also was referred to a posting on tested.com. I’ve already downloaded a few apps based on these recommendations. Enjoy the additional info.]
Over a year and a half ago I wrote a post about my Motorola Droid App Recommendations. I was a very big fan of Android at the time. I say “at the time” because after owning that phone for a year I soon experienced the Android upgrade / fragmentation issues. What was once a snappy and very usable phone became a slow and unusable. Even simple tasks like checking email and replying were bogged down as my phone wasn’t capable of running the latest Android OS version.
I happily switched from my Motorola Droid to my HTC HD7 early in 2011 (see more below) and haven’t looked back since. Now that I have been using Windows Phone 7 for almost a year I thought I would post my app recommendations (I also got a nudge in the arm from a friend). I also included links to the apps on the marketplace that you can view, buy, and install to your phone directly through a web browser. I like that feature and have used it a few times already.
I currently use the Verizon HTC Trophy with an extended battery. Some people question whether an extended battery is really necessary, but with the amount of travel that I do I love the fact that I can get 2+ days out of my phone with a decent amount of usage. There’s also a funny (wasn’t funny at the time) story of getting lost in a major city on its metro bus line and my extended battery being the only thing that allowed me to call / use GPS to get back to where I needed to go.
I also have a deactivated T-Mobile HTC HD7 from when I worked at Sogeti. I haven’t used the phone since it was deactivated about 6 months ago, but in theory I could use it for development or a WiFi only device. Speaking of which I’m going to update it to Mango while I write this post.
Note: The below list does not include any internal Microsoft FTE applications that I also use on a regular basis. It didn’t make sense to post them here as most won’t have access to them.
- GasBuddy – Curious which gas stations are near you and what the prices are? This is the app for you. I use this frequently when driving rental cars and needing to fill up just before drop off.
- Key Ring – Replace all those bulky rewards cards on your key ring with this app. Granted it may not work for your library card and some small businesses but it can alleviate quite a few you may have added over time.
- List it! Do it! – This is a fairly simple and intuitive “to do” list app. Even better it includes deadlines with reminders which was a big need for me. Doesn’t integrate with calendar but I didn’t want that.
- Lync 2010 – If your company has provisioned Lync in your environment and also configured it to allow Lync Mobile then this will be a big one. You can forward Lync IMs and calls to your phone, change status, and check on contacts. I’ll be using this quite a bit to keep in the loop with others.
- My Trips – I use TripIt.com to share my travel itineraries with family or friends. My Trips hooks into that and lets me check trips on the go. I don’t use it too often but it has helped me on occasion.
- SkyDrive – Access files stored in your SkyDrive from your phone. I don’t use this often but I like knowing I can check something quickly if needed.
- Timer Pack – Functions as both a stopwatch and a timer with audible alerts. Simple and easy to use.
- WeatherBug – Track the weather in multiple cities with a live tile update for one of them as well.
Social and Entertainment
- 4th & Mayor – I actually haven’t used the official foursquare app on my phone yet. When I first looked the best recommended app was this and I haven’t looked back since. Perhaps I’ll try the official version at some point but for now this suits me fine.
- Amazon Kindle – I carry my 3rd gen Kindle when I travel, but some times I don’t have it with me and want to read a couple pages. With the automatic sync of last read page this makes it very handy despite the small screen size.
- ESPN ScoreCenter – This is a good app for checking scores, upcoming games, and even which channel some games are showing on. What it isn’t good at though is getting details on an individual game. For whatever design decision reason the detailed game screen is set to the size of say a 7” tablet screen and you must scroll to all corners to get the pertinent info. I really think they could’ve done a much better job with that aspect but otherwise a great app. You can even enter your favorite teams / sports to track as well.
- Flixster – This is almost identical to the Movies app I used on Android. Define your favorite theaters, check movie times, and get more info on a movie. Great for determining which movie to see with friends on short notice.
- WP7applist – Check out the highest rated apps, recently released apps, current deals, and more. I use this to keep updated on what is new or people are using.
- Puzzle Quest 2 – As mentioned numerous times I travel quite a bit so this gets frequent play time on airplanes or airports. This game cost about $7 when I bought it. This may seem like a big cost, but I can say I’ve been playing it for upwards of 40 hours and still not done with the game. From a cost to enjoyment ratio that is a huge value. If you don’t like “match 3” or dungeon crawler games this may not be for you, but I’m definitely getting my money’s worth.
- Angry Birds – This game is a staple on any mobile device. My girlfriend really enjoys playing this if we’re on a long car trip or waiting in line for an event.
- Fruit Ninja – I enjoyed this better on my HTC HD7 due to its larger screen size, but it still works on my HTC Trophy. Lots of furious swipes and competition for the high score makes this a good “pass back and forth” game.
- Collapse – I found this game through a recommendation site and was very surprised at home much I enjoyed it. It is a slight variation on the “match 3” game formula but adds in lots of different game types, bombs, powerups, and other modifications. Once I beat the story mode I didn’t play the game much, but poured many hours into it to beat it.
- Flight Control – Another mindless game that passes time in airports or on planes. Drag and drag lines for planes to land on airstrips. Worth the few bucks it cost.
- geoDefense – Stylized tower defense game with lots of hours of gameplay. Nice retro Tron look to it.
- Wordament – It’s like Boggle but in real time with hundreds of other people and leaderboards. My girlfriend and I enjoy playing together and seeing how many words we can get.
Out of the Box
These aren’t apps per say, but features or “included in the OS apps” that I use literally every day. Thought I would at least mention them.
- Zune – I listen to podcasts, music, and watch videos on my phone quite a bit. The native Zune player may not track my podcasts after a reboot all the time, but it is a great inclusion. Especially useful with my Zune Music pass to find, download, and play some mood music on the spot for parties or dinners with friends.
- Me tile – Being able to get notifications about Twitter replies, FB status updates, and numerous other services directly on my phone without using an app is big. You can even reply to all of those through the same interface. The whole “glance and go” mentality is very much tied into this and appreciated.
- Groups – You can create groups of contacts and then send emails or SMS messages to all of them with just a few simple touches. Useful for me to keep track of friends / family and get updates from just that subset of people on different social networks.
- Tellme – The “not so talked about” service where you hold down the Windows / Start button and speak commands to your phone. I use this frequently to dictate quick text messages or call someone without needing to use my hands. With my Voyager PRO UC bluetooth headset this is even easier.
This is just my quick list of apps I use on a frequent basis. I may update it in the future after a few months or the next major OS release. If you have any recommendations for apps that you use please feel free to share.
Windows Phone logo
Jeff Blankenburg – What’s On Your Phone?
Sarah Dutkiewicz – There’s an App for That!
Tested.com Windows Phone 7 App Recommendations