Making Do With Windows Phone

This isn’t the first time I’ve used a Windows Phone device – I’ve previously tested the Nokia Lumia 710 and the HTC HD7. However, I’ve got a Lumia 800 now, and while I wait for the Nexus 4 to launch, I’ll be using this as my primary device. If you aren’t familiar with the Lumia 800, it’s a pretty sweet little phone. I won’t post a review, but you should definitely read MobileBurn’s review – they called it ‘Windows Phone Done Right.’ It’s a sweet little phone.

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However, the biggest challenge for me to use Windows Phone is finding the right apps. That’s also the biggest challenge that Microsoft is facing with Windows Phone – convincing people that they have the apps, and convincing developers that they should write the apps. However, as I’m going to be using the Lumia 800 as my primary device for a few weeks, I had to sort out some solutions, so I thought I’d share them with you. These aren’t necessarily the *best* apps, but merely the ones that I’ve found to work.

1. One-click sharing of an image to Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr – this is a biggie. I use Instagram on my Android, partially for the Instagram aspect, but more often just the ability to share to my networks easily. The best solution I’ve come across on Windows Phone is called Lomogram. It’s got the filters and whatnot like Instagram, but it’s on Windows Phone. The biggest limitation is that it only uploads a max resolution of 1024×768 – hardly taking full advantage of the camera on my Lumia 800. Still, it gets the job done.

2. Countdown Widget – I like to have a widget on my homescreen that gives me a days-until countdown of upcoming events. Currently, it’s counting down to a vacation, but it could be anything. Live Tile Countdown has this covered. It’s a simple ask, and it’s a dead simple app.

3. Google Voice – I use Google Voice as my ‘throwaway’ number – I have more control over it, so I don’t mind giving it out to anyone. Obviously there’s no official app, but I found that MetroTalk gets the job done quite well. There’s a few hoops to run through to get push notifications working, but they work quite well.

4. Google Reader – this is the biggie. It’s the first thing I check in the morning, my lifeline. Luckily, NextGen Reader works awesome. It’s got much of the same functionality as Google Reader on Android, but it’s all……metrofied.

5. Pandora – I’m a big fan of Pandora (since Last.FM could never get smart enough for me), but my Lumia 800 isn’t planned to support the ‘official’ Pandora app. No worries – Radio Controlled has it covered. All my stations, the whole shebang. Works awesome.

6. Sound Sleep – I have to have ambient sounds to get to sleep, so I was really concerned about finding a good replacement to the awesome Sound Sleep app for Android. Luckily, the solution had the same name – Sound Sleep on Windows Phone. It’s got plenty of options, a sleep timer, and it works under the lockscreen. Everything I need for a good nights’ rest.

7. Twitter – I live and breathe Twitter, but I’m not satisfied with the ‘official’ Twitter client for Windows Phone. To be honest, I don’t care much for the official Twitter client on any platform. I’ve been bouncing around through all the ‘big’ apps, and I’ve settled on Twabbit for now. The notifications are slick, the live tile doesn’t look too ridiculous, and it just works well.

8. Gchat – I have Gtalk on my desktop computer at work all day, and naturally use it constantly on my Android phone. Easily enough, there’s a free ‘Gchat‘ app available for Windows Phone. I’m not completely satisfied with it – it’s not as ‘always-on’ as the Android counterpart, but it gets the job done.

9. YouTube – the official Windows Phone YouTube app blows. That’s all there is to it. Luckily, MetroTube has a rather robust feature set, including the ability to login to your account and that sort of thing. Highly recommended.

10. Weather – I’ll be honest – I haven’t found a good weather app that I really like. I use Weatherbug Elite on my Android phone, and I LOVE the interface and the vast amount of information I can get from it. However, I don’t care for their live tile on Windows Phone. Weather Live has the best live tile, in my opinion, so I have both installed.

So there you have it – the apps that I’ve found thus far that help me feel as ‘at home’ on Windows Phone as I do on Android.

If you’ve found a better solution than the apps I’ve listed, please do let me know in the comments.

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