It often seems that the only apps that break out of the tech ghetto and reach the mainstream media are on the iPhone. Even Android apps only ever really make headlines in Metro, the Graun et al when there’s a malware scare.
What chance then have Windows Phone apps got of finding their rightful audience? Slim to none, we’re saying. And it’s for that very reason that we’re compiled this round-up of the year’s best titles, putting the best of the platform in the spotlight for once.
So without further ado, take it away Windows Phone...
As with the iOS and Android versions, the celestial jukebox's Windows Phone app offers unlimited streaming of a vast range of tracks for a monthly outlay of £9.99. You can also cache tunes to be listened to offline and create playlists. So far, so familiar, no?
Unlike the Apple and Android editions, however, the Windows iteration has some exclusive additions. Not least the option to pin playlists to your Windows kit’s homescreen so they’re only ever a single screen press away. And you can check your friends’ Spotify profiles too.
2 Nokia Drive
Just because this is exclusive to Nokia Windows phones doesn’t mean it shouldn’t make the cut. Not least because it’s the best turn by turn navigation app cum co-pilot on the Windows platform, taking in a range of voice options, 2D and 3D maps and the option to tone down the screen brightness for driving in the dark – ensuring you don’t get any glare but can still see your route.
And with rumours swirling that the app could one day make it to the Windows Marketplace as a standalone title, there’s a chance that non-Lumia phone owners could yet get on board.
3 Next Bus UK
Exclusive to Windows, this harvests information from 370,000 bus stops across England, Wales and Scotland to help you find out when your next carriage is due. You can also find bus stops in your vicinity via Google Maps or Bing and save your most-used stops for easy access.
4 Fusion Sentient
Blending fierce Zoids-style robot combat with strategy, Fusion Sentient is the very antithesis of a casual mobile game. And it's much better for it.
It’s lush visually and densely plotted. And in order to get anywhere you need to put the hours in to get anywhere and get up to speed with the defensive and offensive moves at your disposal.
Fusion Sentient also scores points with us for its nostalgic isometric take on 3D. Proof positive that the influence of those Spectrum 48k whizzes at Ultimate is still echoing down the ages of gaming.
5 Kung Fu Fight
Taking inspiration from the likes of Yie Ar Kung Fun and IK+, Kung Fu Fight is a proper work out for your reflexes.
A difficulty setting every bit as rigorous as a Bruce Lee workout ensures plenty of replay value and there’s a smart story mode too.
6 Cool Remote
Not the greatest name ever, granted. But at least Cool Remote does what it says on the tin, allowing you to control your computer from across the room as you would with a TV remote – albeit over a wireless internet connection.
7 British Airways
Not many people we know fly British Airways. In these straitened times, they’re lucky to be able to stretch to a budget flight with Ryan Air. Still, with apps as with carriers, you get what you pay for. And the self-proclaimed world’s favourite airline definitely didn’t skimp on this effort.
It offers the chance to keep up to speed with check-ins, plus live departure and arrival times and allows you to pin your boarding pass to the start screen.
It also comes replete with oodles of terminal apps to help get you to Borders Agency dept on time for your inquisition. That’s if they’re at work that day and not on the picket line outside. In the event they are on strike and your flight is cancelled, this app will tell you that too.
Perhaps the jewel in Windows Phone’s gaming crown, ilomilo makes the jump from Xbox Live Arcade with charm and playability intact.
A 3D puzzler cum platformer with gorgeous art direction, you’re tasked with navigating through a series of 3D mazes to reunite two cutesy blobs called iLo and Milo. Said friends start each level at opposite ends of the labyrinth in the sky and you’ve got to push blocks around to help them across, with extra points awarded for picking up some young chums called Safkas along the way.
If you only play shooters, beat ‘em ups and driving games, there’s a chance you might find the patchwork, LittleBigPlanet-inspired stylings a bit too cutesy to your liking. But for kids and anyone who wants a more cerebral challenge, ilomilo is nigh-on perfect.
Tiny Wings was a massive hit on the iPhone. But dev Andreas Illige’s lack of resources and manpower means it’s yet to make it other platforms. But don’t fret unduly.
Penguin hasn’t got that game’s polished kids’ cartoon look. But the simple but addictive gameplay that took Tiny Wings to the number-one spot in the App Store is present and correct.
This is a matter of helping the titular penguin cross some rolling snow slopes by tapping on your screen to dive down and letting while going uphill to propel the seabird hero into the air. Chowing down on fish scattered along the route, helps you get higher.
Penguin won’t win any prizes for polish. Or for graphics; it looks like a ‘My First Game’ effort from a prodigious five-year-old. But once you’re past that, there’s plenty of fun to be had here.
Evernote, which lets you record and view notes taken on your phone desktop or on the web in a single handy location, took its sweet time in reaching Windows Phone. But scores over its Android and iPhone counterparts with a more clean, modern look and the addition of a mapping function that lets you see where you where and when you took the note in question.