50 Great Windows Phone 7 Apps
It's only been around for about four months, but the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace has racked up an impressive number of apps--it's approaching 15,000 as of this writing. While that's a mere puddle compared to the vast ocean of iPhone and Android apps available, there's plenty of useful stuff on Windows Phone 7's app roster, including some of the same popular apps found in those more established app stores.
Here are our picks for 50 apps--some high-profile, others lesser-known) that can help keep you informed, productive, and entertained on your Windows Phone 7 device. Half of the apps are free, and most of rest the cost only a buck or two, though a handful have price tags of between $3 and $10.
All of the paid apps listed here offer free trial periods that are either time or feature-limited; the links provided open to the app's page in the Zune desktop software.
This app gives you access to virtually everything you might use on Amazon's Web site, including One-click Purchasing, your Wish List, past orders, and shipment tracking.
Shelling out $140 or $190 for a dedicated Kindle device is hard to justify unless you're a major bibliophile, but for casual readers, Amazon's Kindle app is the next best thing.
Arkwords is a dictionary, thesaurus, and language translator in one--it can read aloud the words you look up (albeit in a computer-generated voice).
This app is a good alternative to carrying around those store loyalty cards (or keychain thingies). It has a database of national and regional merchants (with a built-in store locator) and generates virtual cards complete with bar code.
It's turn-based chess that you can play with a distant friend or a random opponent. Push notifications let you know when it's your turn. (An available $2.99 paid version banishes the ads.)
With this app you can search for and bid on eBay items, monitor auctions, and share listings via e-mail and SMS.
Although Windows Phone 7 lets you keep tabs on Facebook friends via its People and Pictures Hubs, if you want comprehensive access to the service on the go, you want this app.
With Fandango Movies, you can see what's playing nearby, watch trailers, read reviews, and buy tickets.
If you use Flickr for photo sharing, you'll want this app to manage your account and upload snapshots directly from your phone.
There's a paucity of IM apps on WP7 at the moment, but with Flory, you can communicate via Google Talk, Facebook Chat, and of course, with other Flory users.
Notice the rising price of gas lately? This app will tell you the cheapest places in your area to fill up.
Accessing Google Docs via mobile IE is a kludge at best. If you don't need the ability to modify your documents (editing isn't currently supported), check out this app, which will let you search for and view your documents. You can also download your docs--including all of them in one fell swoop--for offline viewing.
Prefer Google over that Bing thing? Here you go--the only catch is that you can't replace Bing as the default search engine (i.e the one that comes up when you press the physical search button).
You could "scan" a document without this app by simply by taking a snapshot of it, but HandyScan Lite offers some worthwhile added features such as the ability to rotate and crop images and save multiple pages to a single file. A paid version ($3.99) adds the ability to save documents as PDF and send them via e-mail.
This app, along with companion desktop software, lets you control a PowerPoint XP-2010 presentation from your phone via Wi-Fi, and it will also help you track the time spent presenting. It works with the Mac version of PowerPoint and OpenOffice.org's presentation software as well. (Limited to 15-page presentations; a $9.99 paid version eliminates this restriction.)
When you just have to look up something about a movie, TV show, or actor, (where have you seen that person before?) there's no better resource than IMDB.
You're not taking full advantage of your Netflix account unless you have this app, which streams from your Instant Queue (you can also manage your queue) and lets you resume watching where you left off on another device.
Particularly suitable for phones with kickstands such as the HTC HD7, Nite Buddy displays the current time and local temperature /weather conditions and provides an adjustable brightness setting.
The latest scores, schedules, stats, and TV broadcast info for major league baseball, football, basketball, and hockey in a clear, easy-to-read format, with Live Tile updates to boot.
Like a mental challenge during your down time? Riddler offers 150 mind-benders with hints available if you want them. (Frank Gorshin in a bodysuit not included.)
Seriously, what's a Windows operating system without Solitaire? This card game offers crisp graphics, one or three card draw, multiple scoring modes, and an unlimited undo feature.
It's nice to be able to put contacts on your Start screen for easy access, but adding more than a few can make for a lot of scrolling. Speedier Dial minimizes clutter by putting a dozen contacts under a single tile.
A Live tile reports the current conditions and temperature, while the app behind it provides extended forecast information, animated maps, and delivers severe weather alerts to your phone's Start screen.
This quick, clean, app is a great way to access Wikipedia on the go; it remembers your lookup history, lets you e-mail articles, and has an orientation lock.
It's Twitter's official WP7 app, and it includes searching, lists of topic trends and top tweets, and the tweets of nearby users.
Appa Mundi Tasks ($3.99)
Windows Phone 7 will sync e-mail, contacts and calendar with an Exchange account, but it doesn't do tasks. This app will sync tasks (with Exchange 2007 or later) and display them via a Live tile.
BreezyPrint (app free, but service $5/mo or $30/year after 14-day trial)
With this app and the accompanying desktop software, you can send documents wirelessly from your phone to the printer on your Windows PC. (A free version of the service is available, but leaves printed documents watermarked.)
The built-in Zune player won't let you download podcasts over-the-air, but Bringcast will. You can search for podcasts or import them from RSS links or OPML files.
Car Locator ($0.99)
With the help of the phone's built-in GPS, Car Locator can mark the location of your parked car in a crowded lot so you can easily find your way back to it later.
Currency Converter Pro ($0.99)
Convert between almost 150 global currencies (and six precious metals), save your favorite conversions for easy access, view trend charts, and get currency-related headlines.
We're not sure if this app will have a practical purpose for most, but this app certainly looks cool, with 3D dice and realistic physics when you "roll" them (which you can do by shaking the phone).
Though graphically simple, this is another fun and highly addictive game--the object is to safely land a steady stream of intersecting prop planes, jets, and helicopters across multiple runways while avoiding a midair collision.
This game makes you slice your way through a phalanx of fruit. It isn't quite as addictive as Angry Birds (that game's coming to WP7 soon), but it's pretty close.
This alarm clock substitute will wake you up with songs and playlists from your phone and can present you with on-screen tasks to solve before allowing you to turn off the alarm. It also provides a customizable snooze time and a shake-to-snooze feature.
With this app, you can make calls and send texts from your Google Voice account, listen to messages, read transcriptions, and more, with push notification and Live Tile support.
LastPass ($12.00 annual subscription)
There are numerous password managers available for Windows 7, but it's hard to beat LastPass for its online password storage and synchronization with its myriad versions for various desktop operating system and Web browsers.
Media Volume Settings ($0.99)
This handy app lets you fine-tune sound output by setting the volume for media and apps independently from the main device volume used for things like the ringer and alarms.
Metro Web Browser ($1.99)
Efficient use of space gives this alternative Web browser more display area for Web pages than IE. It also offers customizable themes and lets you have more than six pages loaded at one time.
NextGen Reader ($0.99)
This Google Reader app takes many of its cues from WP7's built-in e-mail client, such as the ability to easily sort unread, starred, and shared items and to select multiple articles, and it works offline too.
Outdoor Navigation ($4.99)
If outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, or jogging frequently take you off the beaten path, this GPS-enabled app makes a good traveling companion. It provides trip planning with street, satellite, and topographical maps, a digital compass, and records and charts your progress.
This app will keep you up to date on the status of packages sent or received via FedEx, UPS, the US Postal Service, and a host of other shippers around the globe.
A very simple interface lets you translate between 30 languages, share translations via e-mail or SMS, and revisit your translation history offline.
This ambient noise generator lets you choose from a large and growing library of sounds--ranging from cat purr to koi pond-- play multiple sounds simultaneously, and automatically turn them off after a specified amount of time.
StockAlert Live ($0.99)
This app provides access to stock quotes and charts and links to additional information such as company news and SEC filings. Live Tile support lets you keep tabs on a half dozen stocks without opening the app.
SurfCube Browser ($1.99)
It takes a little getting used to, but this cool 3D browser has cool visuals, tabbed and private browsing, and can lock into portrait or landscape mode.
Thumba Photo Editor ($0.99)
WP7's doesn't have a built-in tool for processing photos after you take them, but with this app, you can do things like resize, crop, and rotate your shots, remove red eye, and apply myriad effects.
Tic Tac Toe 3D ($0.99)
A new twist on the classic game, played on a multilayer 3D board that you can rotate in space.
Top 100 Speeches($0.99)
This app gives you instant access to the original audio--and transcripts--of 100 major speeches given by dozens of luminaries including JFK, Ronald Reagan, Martin Luther King, and others.
If you're the type that frequently leaves yourself voice mail reminders, you can create such reminders using OneNote, but this app lets you do much the same thing with a lot less effort. It records your voice and automatically e-mails the message to you (or anyone else you choose).
Use this app to create and view panoramic photos stitched together from multiple snapshots, then navigate them by tilting the phone.
Joseph Moran is a longtime technology writer and co-author of Getting StartED with Windows 7 from Friends of Ed.