Pinworthy: 3 apps for finding great Windows Phone apps

Pinworthy: 3 apps for finding great Windows Phone apps

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“What apps should I get?” Now there’s a question I hear constantly these days. It’s also something I ask myself a lot. Maybe you do, too.

Even for someone like me, whose job involves apps, staying on top of all the new entries flooding into Marketplace each week is a near Sisyphean task. To manage, I rely on a bunch of tricks and tools. I poke around on other people’s phones to see what they’ve downloaded and devour reviews and best-of columns like this. I also lean heavily on features built into Marketplace—like the ability to list the most-downloaded free or paid apps, and see related apps, owner reviews, and star ratings.

Another favorite—but often overlooked—crutch is provided by apps themselves. Yep, the explosive growth of smartphones has spawned a new software genre: apps for finding apps. Today, I’ll introduce you to a few of the ones I have pinned to my own Start screen.

App Flow

App FlowApp Flow

My current favorite of the genre. App Flow’s big selling point—besides its brisk, polished interface—is its human-curated lists. The lists are organized around fun or offbeat themes like “New & Impressive,” “Forgotten legends,” “Love or hate,” and “David vs. Goliath” (well-known apps and their unofficial, occasionally copycat counterparts). Whoever assembles them does a good job of injecting just enough quirky unexpectedness to ensure you’ll often find an worthy new download candidate. App Flow also offers more traditional machine-generated lists, including ones for bargain hunters that show what’s on sale or what former paid apps are now free.

Other stuff I liked: The Live tile showing an (unofficial) tally of the entire Windows Phone app catalog. Even better is all the chart-and-table eye candy, which displays ratings by date, rank, and rank history to help you decide whether an app is worth it. Download it

AppTastic

AppTastic2 of 8

AppTastic is another must-download for serious Marketplace prospectors. What sets this free ad-supported app apart is the ability to set up your own custom searches, so you’ll know the instant a cool download candidate hits Marketplace. Search criteria at your disposal includes keywords, category, subcategory, price, and rating—so there’s lots of ways to customize the net you cast.

Other stuff I liked: AppTastic visually flags new app arrivals in your search results, making it less likely you’ll miss a potentially good one. Download it

Best WP7 Apps

Best WP7 AppsBest WP7 Apps

Picking the best of the rest was slightly challenging. But in the end I decided to go with Best WP7 Apps, a relative newcomer that shows strong potential. Like others in this category, Best WP7 Apps offers fun data-driven lists like “best of the best” and “monthly cool.” It might not be everybody’s taste, but I liked the dense, info-packed results you see when you tap one. Another nice touch that I didn’t see elsewhere was a feed for app news and reviews, although some of the entries were a little outdated (and yo! where’s Pinworthy? Smile with tongue out). Pulling in video app reviews would have also been a nice touch.

Still, Best WP7 Apps is a solid app that’s worth a close look.  Download it

27 Comments
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  • Kent
    2 Posts

    I'm with @SniperED007.  I like new apps but I'm not really interested in new games.  Please keep them separate.

  • @ wsantosf - Interesting! I just experienced something like that.  My tile first showed that I had 3 updates but when I tap on it, it only showed that I had 2 updates on the Marketplace app.  I'll keep an eye on that!

  • arrow22
    50 Posts

    @wsantosf

    Noticed the false marketplace update count as well. Seems to be OK for the last few days though. I have had a lot of weird issues since mango, so this really isn't a huge concern to me (I have an HD7, so yup, Zune freezes the phone constantly).

  • wsantosf
    10 Posts

    Did anyone else notice the marketplace tile count showing updates when there are none ? Sometimes it will show 4, and when I click on it, there are only 2 available. I'm running mango on a samsung focus.

  • Oh, yes, forgot about the Garmin app.  Now, THAT one looks absolutely awesome, but....oooooo, the price tag!  I'm by no means cheap, and I've posted before that I think great work should be able to fetch the price the maker desires for it---as long as the market is there, of course.  I have to give props to the Marketplace for have the Try option in a lot of cases as well as the developers for putting out trial versions.  Though not every app takes advantage of this, it's a plus.

  • @tsrblke: Thanks for posting! [Now that makes 2 responses :-) ]

  • @Buckeye Tico: "maquillage"! Thanks for teaching me a new word! And for your comment.

    @ScubaDog: I haven't tried the Navigon and the Garmin app, so can't say how they compare to Turn by Turn, which I do have. I agree there's room for improvement. But at five bucks, I think it's a good buy and worth a look for anyone in the market for a nav app.

  • Wow, @BuckeyeTico, that's a blatant lie.  It doesn't take a lot of searching through the forums to find where I HAVE, in fact, brought out where I believe there are problems with WP7 or Microsoft---I've been consistent in drumming the overall poor communication and marketing.  And I don't know what you are talking about referring to ego.  At no point have I EVER claimed to know everything.  But, what I AM is fair.  I believe in FAIR criticism of the appropriate party for something.  I'm not always right, and I dare you to point to a single post where I make such an absolute statement.  But, again, HERE is where I WILL make an absolute statement: I always strive to be fair in my complaints.  You may full well disagree with what I say, but I defy anyone to say I don't work very hard to be fair.  Also, exactly where did I state that YOU were demanding something?  The truth is that I didn't.  I said "too often FOLKS..."  And you can look over the various threads and posts and see exactly that.  It's intellectually dishonest to take that fair, general statement and automatically assume I'm talking about YOU.  Your point that some questions ARE answered and so many of us will continue to ask questions is well taken, and I essentially made the same point, but with the caveat that we would be unreasonable to expect it any more frequently than it happens in the context of a blog.  The "Microsoft Answers" forum is the more appropriate venue for that, because that's how Microsoft is marketing that.  A blog is usually meant to closer resemble a broadcast medium rather than interactive.  And that is primarily why I was very happy that @Michael Stroh clarified the blog.  The shame is that I'm guessing most will not have read that or will completely ignore it.  Personally, I would probably choose to place somewhere prominent a "Rules Of Engagement" so that there's less misunderstanding of what can be expected.  BTW, my question about Turn by Turn was not directed at any of the moderators, nor was it demanding.  I asked for a subjective opinion.  It just happened that @Michael Stroh popped in a quick suggestion.  Although I asked for clarification, it can't be misconstrued as a demand and if he never has the time or inclination to respond, I certainly am not going to lose sleep over it.

  • tsrblke
    327 Posts

    @ BuckeyeTico

    That's because I didnt' read your post carefully enough.  I've had no problems with XBL games (although I'll keep an eye out for that!) and I just downloaded an attachment via email 20 minutes ago sans problem (word doc, no pictures.)

    I don't use WLM, and apparently don't notice that in posts either ;).

    To Scuba's point (and this is MHO, not trying to put words anywhere), I think the concern is that people keep turning to this blog asking for what could be construed as tech support issues (or at the very least bug reporting) when this really isn't the venue for it.  Then when it gets glossed over (either on purpose, or more likely by accident) people make more posts going "stop teh ignoring of me!1!!one!" (not so much accusing you of doing that as much as posting generally).  Which is slightly different than asking a question "which is better X or Y" then when it's ignored not really caring.  If I pose a question on the blog It's more of a "if it gets a response, cool, if not: eh, maybe I'll pose it again if another post carries the same topic."

    It seems strange to claim a lack of demanding, while jumping into a thread that's really only tangentially about the update and saying "Yo! Where's my info at?"  I have 174 posts (by last count) this makes 175, and I could probably count on 1 hand the number of times that I've gotten a response to something I've posted from an MS employee.

  • @ Michael Stroh – Thank you for responding to my post.  I know this is a blog and it was not intended (at least originally) as a one-to-one customer support venue BUT you’ve have spoiled us by being (mostly) the only one who addresses our questions here.  The truth is, I am not the type of person who is going to ask you trivial questions; such as, if you prefer app A compared to app B, etc.  If I bug you, is with an specific question about an issue my OS is experiencing that affects the proper functionality of my WP7 (or at least how is intended to function), such as the one about my on-line WML buddies not showing on my Messaging Chat app.  

    @ ScubaDog – OMG, you and your ego… You know everything and you are always right.  But, although you never complain about MS faults (you either ignore them or  maquillage them), you too are guilty of asking direct one-to-one questions here.  And before you say that you are not demanding, neither was I! The truth is that yes, there are some people who come here demanding answers to their questions because they feel that they have paid for something that they are not getting completely.  But keep in mind that if Michael addresses some of these questions, then we’ll all want to keep asking questions.

    @ tsrblke – I have an HTC Arrive with Sprint.  Well, the battery charge thing could be something caused by me (although I am keeping the same setting as before upgrading to Mango), I guess I need to keep monitoring this longer.  But I can’t believe you are not experiencing the same issue about the WLM chat (it has been all over different Tech blogs).  My on-line buddies don’t show on the messaging app.

  • tsrblke
    327 Posts

    @ BuckeyeTico

    I can't say I've seen any of those either.  Except shorter battery life, and to be honest, I can't tell if that's just because I'm using my phone more....

    What phone are you using? I have a Focus, and a Surround (that I haven't pulled out to update to mango) if it's one of those I can fiddle with it and see what happens.  The surround is kinda my "experimental" phone since it's SD card has been acting up, I'd pretty much do anything to push the system. (Anything...but throw it against a wall )

    That being said, Battery Saver is a godsend, at least now my phone will last longer at the tail end.

  • Omigosh, THANK YOU, @Michael Stroh, for making that very clear.  It seems like I frequently have to point out to folks on these threads that, while you guys do sometimes direclty address issues/questions, this is a BLOG, not a customer support forum.  Too often folks forget that and absolutely demand you guys read and respond to everything.  Obviously, we all, at times, have significant concerns (at least, in perception) to voice, and we'll look for any avenue in order to express them--and hopefully get a response.  But I just think it's both unrealistic and unfair to assume that EVERY venue is meant for that purpose.

    So, speaking of responses, are you suggesting that Turn by Turn is a better value than Navigon (yes, taking into consideration a reasonable amount of subjectivity)?  I've been sporting Turn by Turn and Outdoor Navigation (both by gpstuner.com), but they've not quite lived up to my expectations so far.  I'll play with it a little more.

  • @Buckeye Tico: Thanks for the memory jog. I don't intentionally ignore anybody here, no matter what you've posted in the past. :-)  We always encourage substantive, *respectful* debates here. That said, it's impossible for me to respond to everybody's questions. I do the best I can, but admittedly tackle fewer than I'd like. Sorry I didn't get to yours.

    I'm not aware of issues like the kind you're seeing.  I suggest checking Microsoft Answers, to see if anybody else with your specific phone model and set up is reporting anything similar. This blog isn't really intended or set up to serve as a source of one-on-one support. Answers is. Hope that helps and glad you're with us.

  • @ Michael Stroh – I hate to complain because you have been pretty good to us BUT I have posted valid questions about issues we are having after upgrading to Mango (such as: on-line WLM buddies not showing on the messaging chat, XBL points and achievements not being updated accordingly, file attachment -not pictures- not being available within the mail app, shorter battery charge, etc.) AND you haven’t addressed them, not even one of them.  It seems that the Turn by Turn app (or anything that relates to the Pinworthy section) is more important than legitimate questions about the inconsistent behavior our new OS is showing.  

    I just hope that ignoring my questions are not in retaliation to how critic I have been about the OS original deployment, the NoDo update fiasco and your co-worker Eric.  I know you are a busy fella and perhaps you have better things to do BUT it won’t hurt to address (or have someone else do it) my questions.

  • @Scuba, bookmark: Check out Turn by Turn.

  • So, @Bookmark71, would you say that Navigon is worth it's unusually high price tag?  I have to admit, the app has my attention, but I'm balking at the $$.

  • I vote for Navigon.  I bought it this weekend when visiting Seattle.  It's fast, accurate and has a lot of features to like.  It tells you which lanes to be in so you take the correct exit on highways.  I really like the speed limit indicator.  Sometimes I don't notice a sign for a while and am not sure if its still 70 or dropped down to 60.  It also has an audible warning when you are speeding (I think it can be turned off).  I just wish there was a printable manual.  I can't find one on their website.

  • Awesh
    9 Posts

    Using 'App Flow' and 'AppTastic', both are gr8 apps.. loving WP7 :)

  • The tips you give on everything is great, I read the whole article intently which is a big deal, normally I get side tracked and head over to facebook or twitter, haha :)

    http://www.finnstillinger.no

  • Couple of question with regards to Microsofts default Marketplace

    1. Why are Games showing under Apps -> All (www.windowsphone.com/.../apps) When there is already a separate tab specifically for games?

    2. How are the lists sorted?

    I would assume that the Top list would be by purchases made (as that makes most sense for Microsoft, Users, & Developers) however I've been around long enough to know that Microsoft aren't the best when it comes to lists like these (Xbox Indie games list was ranked by Downloads for the first few years & only recently moved to purchases)

    I would then assume that the Free list is by downloads, but from how far back? Is it the previous days downloads, probably not considering reports data is only available 6 days later?

    I recently released a Free app and it doesn't seem to be moving up or down the list much at all, even though it had a lot of great press and a lot of downloads.

    Hope someone can help with the above questions.

  • abm
    268 Posts

    Amen to what Rodney E. Jones said. Thanks brov! I believe besides the ranking of app, there must be the ranking of the seller (like happens on ebay) in order to mitigate the chances of such happenings.

  • I agree that high priced apps that don't do anything are stupid, but some bloke might want to by it just to impress somebody. It's called freedom, as long as the app abides by the rules of the marketplace then it's welcome. Just like different races of people here in America, we should not discriminate against others because they are different. As long as we all follow the rules we are all welcome. We don't want WP to get the reputation that Apple has who takes censorship to far. Let's not let our own personal opinions effect mathematical decisions. It's simple, if you don't like a app then just pass it buy. No matter how stupid we think the app is the developer has rights to a certain degree.

    Children should not be given access to purchasing apps if it's going to be issue as far as accidental purchases, at least in my opinion. It's the guardians responsibility to "moderate" this.

    No malicious apps, misleading descriptions, material that MS finds to inappropriate, data or information pirating apps, so on..... Like I said, I agree that the app lacks substance and is outrageously overpriced, but it doesn't fall into any of these categories.

  • @Nathan!  thanks for  your finding such apps.please moderate the apps available in market.

  • MiSahEL
    10 Posts

    I'd love to try these... if MS would hurry up with making the Mango updates available.

    Al the reviews of how Good Mango is just fuel the rage at the slow update process.

  • Nathan
    63 Posts

    Also, some validations in app name. Like "No_App_Name_Cause_I_Cant_Think" is invalid name.

    Actually I am reproducing the suggestions posted by ThaRebeliouZ on October 09, 2011 at windowsteamblog.com/.../windows-phone-radio-45.aspx

    Following is the comment:

    Whoever is in charge of approving the Apps in the Marketplace needs to wake up!

    There's some spam Apps like:

    "I'm Rich" cost $499.99 does absolutely nothing as it states in the description.

    "I AM VIP" cost $499.99 same thing above.

    "Almost Rich" cost $249.99, an App that tells the world that you are rich.

    Gimmie a break, there needs to be some serious requirements so Apps like these wont make it into the marketplace. Another thing i dont like seeing is Apps with "No_App_Name_Cause_I_Cant_Think" <-- the underscores on App names seriously make WP's Marketplace look sloppy not to mention some of the pics they use for their Apps. Yes many people will judge a book (or in this case App) by it's cover.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm NOT criticizing the good developers we have out there who carry themselves and their work with professionalism. Just those that are helping to turn the WP Marketplace into a spamcentral.

  • Nathan
    63 Posts

    @Michael Stroh, checkout the app called I'm Rich a $499.99 app!! It state in description: "The I'm rich app that does absolutely nothing other than wasting your own money." (www.windowsphone.com/.../9dc5d77d-0a23-4e62-8c8d-363ba7abd731)

    Also, "I AM VIP" cost $499.99 and "Almost Rich" cost $249.99.

    Is there any moderation on market place?

  • arrow22
    50 Posts

    Awesome! Glad to see App Flow getting some attention, I've been using it for a few weeks and the developers have done a phenomenal job!