Windows Phone has come a long way in a year’s time. Since WP8 debuted last November, Microsoft (and Nokia for that matter) have struggled hard to earn legitimacy with customers — and it’s starting to pay off. Now, must-have apps like Instagram and Vine have found homes in the Microsoft Store, with new entries like Flipboard on the way. And with Blackberry circling the drain, the platform has finally taken third place behind Android and iOS on the world stage, even leading the pack in some markets. Windows Phone is far from perfect, and there’s plenty of work to do. But with devices like the Lumia 1020 guiding the way, new customers can rest easy that they won’t miss out on anything they’d want in a smartphone. Here’s a look at what you need to get started.
This year we've picked out some of the very best apps, games, books, and downloads for your new devices. Dig into our top selections for Android apps, Android games, iPhone apps, iPad apps, iOS games, Windows Phone apps, Kindle books, Mac and PC.
TuneIn Radio is a boon for anyone out there who still appreciates radio. The app boasts well over 100,000 stations, including local favorites as well as national broadcasts like NPR, ESPN, and the BBC.
CamScanner is a surprisingly versatile scanning utility that can almost completely replace your office’s scanner. It can, of course, process the documents you need at the office, but it can also intelligently scan photos and crumpled letters. It even goes the extra mile, allowing you to keep them all organized on your SkyDrive.
Six-second video sharing service Vine is another latecomer to the platform, but it’s on par with offerings for iOS and Android. Support for Windows Phone’s Live Tiles lets you pin your favorite users to your home screen.
Hipstamatic Oggl is a bit of an odd beast. It came to the platform in a time when Windows Phone didn’t have Instagram yet, so it might seem unnecessary nowadays. That said, it offers a unique, welcoming interface for photo lovers that rewards experimentation. It may not have the community behind it, but it’s worth toying with to get the perfect shot worth sharing.
Spotify only arrived on Windows Phone 8 early this year, so it was appropriately met with excitement. To date, the app still feels a bit like it’s in beta (no radio), but if you’re a subscriber, it’s an absolute must.
Snapchat is another major app that hasn’t reached Windows Phone, but don’t fret. The developer behind 6tag developed 6snap to mimic Snapchat’s functionality in every way. It does not disappoint.
Ciel combines a bit of Instagram with Foursquare to create something a little more whimsical than basic filtering. The photos you take in Ciel can be annotated with the weather in your area and graphics that correspond to the place where you’ve just checked in.
627.AM is the perfect personal organizer for Windows Phone users. It’s not quite Siri, but it can keep track of appointments, memos, and alarms, all while aligning with the weather so you know when to skip a meeting because of the rain.
Facebook on Windows Phone was subpar for a long time — until Facebook granted users access to the beta version of the app. Unlike other beta products on the platform, Facebook Beta is a testing ground for some of the better new features that people would actually want to use. You need this.
Windows Phone lacks a proper YouTube app, though not for lack of trying. Microsoft’s storied battles with Google have left its own once-great app just a wrapper for the mobile site. Now, Metrotube is forced to step back into the spotlight. It’s as good and reliable as ever, and that’s enough.
Weather Flow is one of Windows Phone’s better weather clients. It gives glanceable updates on weather from the home screen, and it has a gorgeously minimal interface that’s worth diving into. It also has lock screen support so you’re never unprepared for what’s outside.
Nextgen Reader is still the gold standard of RSS readers for Windows Phone. It boasts an incredibly fast and clean interface that can handle your early morning reading with ease. Until Flipboard finally lands, this is your news reader of choice.
Even though Instagram finally landed on Windows Phone this year, it’s still lacking in a few areas — most notably video. As far as third-party clients go, 6tag is essential for offering a full-featured and surprisingly intuitive interface.
DualShot is simple, like Frontback on iOS, DualShot. Take a picture of what’s in front of you, and then another of yourself. Stitch the two together, and you have a cute picture of yourself reacting to a moment: simple, fun, and elegant.