Here’s a fun cocktail-party question. Let’s say you wanted to buy every single app in Marketplace. How much would that set you back?
At least that’s what AppBuzz tells me. AppBuzz is a new app-discovery app in Marketplace. It says there are 7,215 total apps available for Windows Phone—2,195 free and 5,020 paid. Tote up all the paid ones and that’s the price of cornering the Marketplace—about the price of Honda Civic. (The app also ticks off some other interesting figures, like average price and rating of all the apps.)
AppBuzz is just one of several unofficial sources for Marketplace stats that have sprung up in recent months. I have no idea how accurate any of this stuff is. WP7Applist, an indie website devoted to Marketplace tracking, claims the Windows Phone store currently stocks 7,552 apps. So there you go.
I love an interesting stat as much as the next person. And it’s definitely exciting to see so many developers embracing Windows Phone so quickly (just take a look at the pretty graphs on WP7Applist to see dramatic illustrations of this—zoom).
But for me, what matters most is that there are apps that let me do the stuff I want to do on my phone—find a happy hour spot, tune my Fender, watch YouTube videos with my daughter, listen to a Japanese radio station, read a Kindle ebook, unwind with a great Xbox LIVE game. And I’ve already found Windows Phone apps for all this and more.
So check out this week’s gems—and tell me what’s new on your phone.
I Dig It
Fans of Dig Dug, Jules Verne—heck, anybody who just loves a great game—will adore I Dig It, another winning Xbox LIVE title from Microsoft Game Studios. In this treasure-hunting strategy game, you pilot a mole machine with a virtual joystick, carving subterranean tunnels in search of precious ore and buried treasure. The deeper you dig, the greater the potential reward—and risk. You have to keep close watch on fuel, drill temperature, oxygen and other gauges. At the surface, you can trade in your dug-up cargo for cash to fund key upgrades like a titanium drill bit, or repairs and supplies.
The graphics and sound effects in this game rank among the best I’ve seen so far. The paid version offers six exotic locations to explore—icy Antarctica, the Egyptian desert, and other Indian Jones-worthy locales. It’s a must download. I also recommend trying out this week’s runner up: Chicks’n’Vixens, an Angry Birds lookalike with lots of potential.
Released: Jan 15. Price $2.99 + free trial
FreeCaddie Pro Golf GPS
GPS-based rangefinders are all the rage on the links these days. But why spend money on stand-alone hardware when you’ve got a Windows Phone? Enter FreeCaddie Pro Golf GPS, a popular smartphone rangefinder from Mobile Software Design.
The app, which has data for more than 21,000 golf courses, shows precise distances to the greens (front, back, and center), hazards, bunkers, doglegs, and start and end of fairways. It can also tell you how far you’ve hit the ball, track your score, and show other stats.
Mobile Software Design also makes a free version of their app, which lacks some features like the ability to measure shot distance. One nit: The Marketplace description for FreeCaddie doesn’t spell out what features are unique to each version. That would have been handy. While I eventually dug up the info on the FreeCaddie website, developers need to remember that those are the kinds of details finicky app shoppers like me want to know.
Released: Jan. 29. Price $9.99.
For couples eager to start a family, the wait to become pregnant can be frustratingly long and full of letdowns. Luckily, technology can help.
Fertility Diary provides a handy way for women and their partners to track basal body temperature and other telltale biological indicators that presage ovulation, making it easier to predict the best time to conceive. The app provides several handy ways to view this info, including charts and a color-coded calendar. If you do get pregnant, Fertility Diary can also estimate the baby’s due date.
The full-featured trial version expires after seven days. While it probably goes without saying that I haven’t tried this app personally, it looks to be one of the better fertility planning apps in Marketplace at the moment.
Released: Feb.1. Price: $2.99 + free trial
If you’re a parent of young children, then you’re in on the dirty little secret about smartphones: They can be great temporary babysitters, especially when you really need to get some work done or finish up that argument—er, discussion!—with mom. If you’re the lucky parent of a little girl, PaperDoll should be high on your list of apps to check out.
The smartphone equivalent of playing Barbie, the app provides a range of stock characters, which you can then dress up with different outfits, makeup, shoes, and other accessories. My four-year-old daughter loved this app. And I’m secure enough to admit that I probably spent an unseemly amount of time playing it with her. No, the red pumps, honey, not the white ones. Those don’t match. Ooh—the sparkly ones, yes, pick the sparkly ones! According to the publisher, future updates will bring even more costume changes.
Released Jan. 31. Price: $0.99
Remember how to felt when you popped that copy of a copy of Sabbath into the tape deck of your AMC Gremlin? OK, me neither. But Tape Recorder can still transport you back to the days when cassette tapes were king, hiss was a sweet 70s lullaby, and the iconic Maxell ad blanketed the airwaves.
Sure, there are already several decent recording apps in Marketplace—and don’t forget OneNote Mobile’s own nifty voice notes feature (here’s how to use it). But none are as fun or ooze as much retro analog chic as this one. All the familiar buttons on the 70s-era tape recorder are functional. There’s also an audio meter, counter, and write-protection lock. When you’re finished recording, just tap Eject and the tape becomes part of your tape library. The only downside is that each virtual tape can only hold 10-minutes of audio—barely enough time for my rendition of American Pie.
Released Jan.29. Price: $2.99+free trial.