Pinworthy: Marketplace tops 10,000 and 5 great new apps

Pinworthy: Marketplace tops 10,000 and 5 great new apps

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10,000. Has a sweet ring, doesn’t it?

Reports began to trickle out over the weekend that Marketplace apparently has hit the five-figure mark. I know the news here on the blog hasn’t all been rosy lately, but the torrid pace of app creation for Windows Phone continues to amaze me—and should give everyone with a phone good reason to smile. As ZDNet and others have reported, hitting 10,000 this quickly appears to be an app store record for smartphones.

Sure, not all of the apps are winners (hence the reason for this column). But that’s OK. The beauty of Marketplace, in my mind, is its mostly hands-off Darwinian bent. We’re in the Windows Phone equivalent of the Cambrian explosion—a period of intense coding and creative trial and error. Not all apps will survive this epoch. Nor should they. But in this environment superior apps—and their creators—will always win big. Mediocre apps will be forced to innovate and improve.

And the digital Dodos will fade into oblivion. 

What explains Marketplace’s early success? One likely reason, as PC World noted yesterday, is Windows Phone’s novel design, which gives app makers a lot of interesting, creative options. Apps just look better than they do on other phones. A piece in USA Today (with accompanying video) points to another big contributor to growth: the vast army of developers that Microsoft has rallied around the world—some 25,000 to date. And there’s the decision Microsoft made last year to unleash its own internal programming talent by relaxing its historically strict moonlighting policy (the New York Times provides the full scoop).

My point? Good times ahead, my friends.

Of course, as the size of Marketplace balloons, finding awesome apps becomes that much more challenging (but who’s complaining!). This column hopefully serves as one helpful tool. But several Windows Phone news and fan sites now also provide regular app and game reviews. My list of bookmarks include: WPCentral, WMPoweruser.com, 1800PocketPC, Best WP7 Games. (Did I miss any good ones? List them in the comments!)

Finally, a quick programming note. Starting next week, look for Pinworthy on Mondays (or thereabouts). Want a jumpstart on my app tips? Don’t miss the Windows Phone Radio podcast, which each week features a preview of my column and other app talk with co-hosts Brian and Matt. New episodes post Fridays (or thereabouts).

Now, onto the apps!

Steam Castle

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Elbert Perez, who has quickly established himself as the dean of Windows Phone indie game developers, mixes steampunk with Missle Command in his latest offering. The Battlestar Galactica-like storyline (as if it really matters) is that you’re humanity’s last hope. Hunkered down in a steam-powered castle, you must fend off a final assault from the marauding Mechanitrons. Your enemy attacks with mechanical air balloons and air drills. Your Victorian era-flavored counter weapons include the Steam Shot Cannon, Scatter Shots, and (my favorite) the Vortex. All good fun. If you like this title, check out Perez’s other Marketplace hits Quadra, Impossible Shoota, and Nom Nom Worm, to name just a few.

Download Steam Castle

Released: Feb. 28. Price: free

TuneIn Radio

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One of my favorite things about my Window Phone is its built-in FM radio. But even in a megalopolis like New York or London, the number of local radio stations you can pick up pales in comparison to what the Internet offers.

Enter TuneIn Radio, which lets you listen to streaming broadcasts from thousands of music, sports, and news stations around the world, including national networks such as the BBC and NPR. Find stations by call letter—or browse by location, language, or genre. The app also features handy extras like a built-in sleep alarm. An indispensible travel and entertainment app.

Download TuneIn Radio

Go to the TuneIn Radio website

Released: Feb. 23. Price: free.

Asteroid Armageddon

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As a kid feeding quarters into the original Asteroids arcade game, I often wondered about the view from inside that little triangular 2-D ship. Now I know. Asteroid Armageddon is a first-person, 3-D take on the original hit. The game puts you in control of a weapon-studded ship. Your mission: blast away at incoming boulders to survive. A great way to kill some time.

Download Asteroid Armageddon

Released: Feb. 24. Price: free

Comica

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Need a laugh while standing in line? Comica brings your favorite comic strips to your phone. The app draws from a rich trove of syndicated strips and other silly sources, including the Daily Dilbert, Comedy Central, Non Sequitur, Wizard of Id, and more. You can read offline—or share your favorites via Twitter, email, or text. Comica is also a great example of what I had mentioned earlier: how Windows Phone app makers can create beautiful-looking apps not possible on other smartphones.

Download Comica

Released: Mar. 3. Price: $1.29 + free trial

Hollywood’s Hottest

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That sly Charlie Sheen. Who can get enough? Not me. Now I keep tabs on my favorite primetime bad boy and other celebs with the new (at least when I first started this post) free version of  the Hollywood’s Hottest app. The app is a portal to movie and TV news, reviews, and of course celebrity gossip. It’s not just for arm-chair paparazzi, either. You’ll also find the scoop on DVD sales and other business trends that every budding studio chief should know. 

Download Hollywood’s Hottest

Released: Feb. 18. Price: free

30 Comments
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  • hey, the radio app is useless on AT&T.... our 2GB plans can't handle (at least) 2 hours of radio if we use it daily!

  • @teufel don't give up! we are back on the air this week!

  • Should I just give up on looking for new Windows Phone Radio Podcasts?  it would be nice to hear from you guys again. :-)

  • xchamox
    17 Posts

    Michael, do all MS employees harbor some deep hatred of consumers, or does Microsoft simply enforce strict rules on when and how to reply to consumer criticism?

  • @westv555--Oops. I'm also a fan of SmartKeitai. Thanks for pointing them out. I see they also did a small item on Comica.

    @goodguyrobo--I'll check Codex out. Looks like a neat game. Cool, funky visuals.

    @nowshow--And 'll check your reco out, too. Spring training is right around the corner.

    @ everybody else--Appreciate the kudos and criticisms, support and suggestions. As always. And thanks for keeping the discourse civil.  :-)

  • If you get a chance could you try out Codex it's been getting some positive reviews:

    windowsphonemetro.wordpress.com/.../windows-phone-games-codex-review

    "I was pleasantly surprised to open Codex and find visuals which rival and are even better than many Xbox LIVE-enabled titles."

  • glonq
    4 Posts

    Bobby, you're saying "Get real and stop being babies" to people who believed the hype, spent hundreds of $$$, and took a chance on a new product.  That's the exact kind of arrogance and inconsideration that we're already receiving from the people that sold us WP7.

    And to then accuse them of being iFans really takes the cake.  If they don't "tow the party line" and suppress their dissent, then they must be with the enemy.

    WP7 is a great OS developed by really talented engineers.  All parties involved want nothing but the best, but despite such great intentions, they've failed to deliver the level of support that we expected to receive (and that they expected to give).  Your denial and infighting do further disservice to the WP7 community.

  • @Bobby I'm happy that you and your wife are so pleased with your phones.  There is much to love about Windows Phone 7, which is why we all bought into the vision in the first place.  But that doesn't change the fact that MANY people are not satisfied, nor does it invalidate the many issues that have been raised on this and other blogs all over the net.  Calling it "whining" is both insulting and sounds more like the "fanboy" behavior you're trying to discredit.

    And regardless of how happy you are or are not with your phone, if you don't believe that Microsoft has absolutely FAILED in both delivery of and communications regarding Windows Phone 7 updates, then I can only conclude that you simply haven't been paying attention.

  • xchamox
    17 Posts

    @Bobby Cannon

    Yes, let's just ignore the blatant issues with the platform and not push the development team to work harder and fix it. While we're at it, let's also ignore the fact that we invested hundreds of dollars in this platform and expect a functioning OS in return.

  • dkb1898
    167 Posts

    @Bobby Cannon - It's exactly that attitude that has Windows Phone Vista on the path to failure

  • I think we have a bunch of iFans and DroidFans in here. Stop whining. While I'm upset and somewhat ashamed about these updates it's not the end of the world. My wife tells me at least once a week how much she loves her Samsung Focus. It's the best phone she has ever had. Get real and stop being babies. In my opinion WP7 is the best phone OS out there. Does it have problems? Yes, all software has issues. Just go with the one you like the best and stop whining.

  • I wanted to weigh in to say that I think it's possible to provide constructive and even critical feedback in these forums without being disparaging toward the individuals who post the information here....

    WIth that said, as someone who started using smartphones in the age of Psion (which existed before some of you were born), I find the WP7 far better than almost anything I've ever used. And I've used everything from Nokias to Android devices, to all of the iPhone variants, and even a recent foray into WebOs handsets (also a very decent experience).  Is there room for improvement? Certainly. However the WP 7 phone offers many things these other devices don't: a unified and cohesive ecosystem and therefore, far more intuitive user experience; a calendar that works consistently (and unlike some Android phones, doesn't (1) default to Google or "my calendar"; or (2) mysteriously delete entries from my exchange account; superior phone experience; and some very decent apps.

    I am a diehard apple user - my entire office is Mac-based. But with respect to the phone, I find WP7 better, and fully expect it will get even better in time.  Plus, it syncs seamlessly with my Mac (I use exchange and only need music, photos and videos to sync,and therefore  the connector is perfect for me).  

    And really, if your experience is so miserable, then go buy something else.

  • westv555
    17 Posts

    SmartKeitai.com is another blog with a good WP7 portal for game/app/news announcements http://tinyurl.com/46dc5v5

  • leifage
    13 Posts

    marsupy; It's nice to hear that you have no problems with your WP 7 phone. I like the UI, and a lot about the phone. But I can assure you; I have been using outlook since early in the 90'is, and for many years I have synced my contacts, mail and notes against our exchangeserver. I can assure you, there is nothing wrong in how the data is put in - i'm not stupid. I have been in contact with HTC support, and they are aware of the bug. Please don't assume that nobody else but you is capable of using Outlook/exchange and smartphones. I'm enough annyed as I am, don't need a smartass tell me how to put my contacts in to my exchangeaccount and on to my phone.

  • Paul
    3 Posts

    The best phone ever! I have had no problems with international codes or of any sorts. My guess is that it is more of a user input error then Microsoft/HTC error, I've seen this happening in so many places, from the way people input their contacts in Outlook, to failing inserting the correct numbers in the correct fields on their CRM system. In the end, they blame everyone else but themselves.

    I do agree with one of the posts, that says something about Corporate users. Outlook looks great, but lacks a lot of functionality for corporate users and one issue that really annoys me, is that I cannot access my Notes folder from my Outlook Exchange, shame!

  • Leigh
    89 Posts

    I'm glad to see that more and more apps are arriving.   The fastest growth in a marketplace ever!   Great job.

    I'm looking forward to those apps having a bit more capability, owing to more O/S features.

    I'm also looking forward to the update which should roll out beginning 21 March.  

    Please Please Please, give us more information about the specific carriers and when the upgrade will become available.  I'm on LG Quantum, which I love, on AT&T in the US.

    Also looking forward to Mango and would love to hear a commitment from Microsoft for roll out sooner than later, at MIX11.

    Enjoy Windows Phone 7!

    -e

  • You are all lucky you can even use Windows Phone.  I am stuck on Sprint waiting.  And so this weekend, the HTC Arrive comes, but HTC is probably the stupidest company ever.  Why they did not make the Arrive global roaming I do not know.  But I am overseas all the time, and that is a 100% requirement.  Someone needs to get a global roaming device to Sprint ASAP.

  • xchamox
    17 Posts

    dkb, I don't think WP& will be dead. Maybe not up to par with iOS and Android (obviously), but there's bound to be some sort of following.

    As negative as all this WP7 stuff is, I'm still trying to remain optimistic about MS pulling their finger out of their ass. However, if six months pass and they still can't deliver a decent update, then bye bye Windows Phone for me.

  • dkb1898
    167 Posts

    For as bad as this OS is after a good month out of the gate, I think it reflects well on at least Brandon Watson and his team that people are still developing apps for a platform that may well be dead in 9-12 months.

  • Yeah, the app developers are really stepping up and doing their part to try and make WP7 a  success.

    I wish Microsoft would do the same with the OS.  It's hard to get excited about the constantly-growing marketplace when none of those apps can address the many many daily annoyances and limitations of WP7.  Lots of stuff only Microsoft can fix, due to API limitations.  So far, ZERO from the big MS...

    "And the digital Dodos will fade into oblivion. " - Apps alone won't save WP7 from suffering this same fate.

    "Good times ahead, my friends." - Et tous, Michael?  ALL Microsoft people seriously need to stop telling us how great things are going to be in the future.  It's really getting insulting.

  • GeraldM
    10 Posts

    Michael - zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.  Too bad your engine in bonk.  I've decided to smash my phone on youtube in the coming weeks.  I will of course post a link. Your product management team killed this puppy.

  • Comica is a disaster, it crashes after a few seconds of use on omnia 7, from France, over 3G network ...

  • It's really annoying to read these posts when the marketplace isn't available at least fully across Europe... I don't have a single app on my phone because the store isn't available in Norway. Sigh.

  • Good progress, but remember quality over quantity!

    Getting the mainstream, big developers to start developing for windows phone 7 should be your main aim, its having the essential and popular apps that convince people to buy/invest in a phone os.

  • abm
    268 Posts

    Can you bring about some extensibility in People hub too, in terms of importing contacts from PC, SIM etc. and filter based on SIM contacts and/or the phonebook contacts? So, so contacts, whose phone numbers are not present, doesn't appear in list when dialing a number or sending an SMS.

    Also, the messaging hub would be a good idea in which WLMessnger or office-communicator serves an integral part to deliver instant-messages to contacts that are connected via Internet. :)

    [  rather using thir-party app. :(  ]

    Keep up the great work and thanks for the update !!

  • nowshow
    1 Posts

    I think you missed the Strike Out, this is a great party game.

    Strike Out! Use Steroid Mode to Trick Your Friends!

    www.bplusgame.com/.../news_20110309.htm

  • leifage
    13 Posts

    Yes, I'm sure - I sync against our exchangeserver. Everything works fine with my HTC HD 2. I haven't set up my LiveID, I hate the complete idea of mixing my Live contacts with everything else. Who ever came up with that idea should consider getting some professional help. HTC is aware of the problem with countrycodes, but like everything else on this update, it's taking a looong time to get things fixed. I really (or more correct; i try to) like the WP7, but Microsoft and HTC aren't making it easy for me to do that. The HTC HD 2 is my best phone-experience so far, i have had HTC tytn, HTC tytn II, HTC touch hd, HTC touch diamond 2, HTC desire and iPhone 4. I would hate to ditch my Mozart and go back to my HD 2, but I just can't live with a phone that doesn't handle contacts correctly. And please, cut all that social networking nonsense and make it more usable for corporate users. At least give me the opportunity to choose wether I want my contacts on Live to be transferred to my phone. The WP 7 OS is nice, and I guess it can turn out really awesome. Too bad MS is failing getting the update out. Like I said; if I have to ditch my Mozart, I'm not sure if I'll ever return. In my opinion, WP 7 will be an iPhonekiller - that is if Microsoft starts delivering...fast. Right now it looks like they don't really care, maybe they just gave up?

  • cmwind
    71 Posts

    i have had some funny issues with country codes. i believe this happens when the contacts number is pulled from Windows LIVE contacts with a country code and distributed to the phone. i just delted the number on the Windows LIVE contacts site and then reentered it on the phone and have not had any problems since then.

  • moonman
    5 Posts

    You're telling me? :) But I have no problem with my phone numbers and they all start with + and counrty codes. Are you sure you're using the correct format?

  • leifage
    13 Posts

    How nice that you are enjoying your internet radioapp, castles and asteroidcrap - while i'm struggling with a phone that's not even capable of handling phonenumbers stored with a countrycode in front. And yes...we are in the year of 2011. Btw, did you know that man was on the moon in 1969?