Test Run: Most Popular Apps on Smartphones Today

Test Run: Most Popular Apps on Smartphones Today

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In the past year, Windows Phone was among the fastest growing app catalogs in history (a close second to Apple in growth rate) and today features thousands of apps and games, including 90% of the most popular titles available on both the top two leading smartphones according to TNS research.  This week I’ll take a look at five of those most popular apps available on smartphones today, including: Amazon Kindle, Bank of America, The Weather Channel, IMDb, and CNN – all on Windows Phone.

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Kindle has been covered in the Windows Phone blog before, so rather than dive into its features, I’ll explain how Mango makes the app even better with Bing Vision and App Connect.

Try this yourself – it’s cool: touch the Bing Search button and select “vision” (it’s the eyeball icon). Hold your Windows Phone over a book and it will scan the text and deliver results. Select your book from the “results” and select again from “products.” Swipe to the right once to access “apps,” and select Amazon Kindle. The app will go directly to your book, which you can select, buy (if you already have a Kindle account) and start reading immediately. I did this at work when I found a book I wanted in a co-worker’s office. In less time than it takes to wait in line at a bookstore, I was reading it on my phone!


   Bing Vision Scanning Book with Results                App Connect to Amazon Kindle Book


Bank of America

I use the BofA website to manage my accounts, so I was interested to see how the app compares to the online version. Just like the website, you enter your passcode and are directed to accounts overview. The app version has been simplified to include only your bank accounts and does not feature “Special Offers & New Accounts,” which is okay because this section is advertising anyway.

While the primary selection tabs on the Online Banking website are “Accounts, Bill Pay, Transfers, Investments, and Customer Service” the app version was created with mobility in mind, and replaces “Investments” with “Locations” and “Customer Service” with “More.” Locations enables you to search for BofA ATMs and banks based on your current location or by entering a zip code, and More includes a “Contact Us” tab with both online/mobile banking technical support and customer service options as well as settings, related mobile services, and more.

The bottom line is that the BofA app for Windows Phone offers virtually everything from the website, and more for mobile, in a format that is both easy to navigate and use.


          BofA Accounts Overview Screen                    Bank of America Recommends Locations

The Weather Channel

I switch between using Accuweather and The Weather Channel often, and while Accuweather is an app that I recommend highly, this post is a popularity contest and the Weather Channel ranks among the top 20 apps on smartphones today. Live animation in apps is great, and The Weather Channel delivers when you open it by displaying a panorama view of the day’s weather. In my case, it’s moving clouds today and when I swipe to see the 5-day forecast each day includes falling raindrops, and, or stirring clouds – that’s Seattle in October.

Swipe to the right and you can view a radar map, which doesn’t appear to offer much, until…you tap on it. This launches an interactive Bing map with the option to add layers, including current temperature, wind speed, clouds; select points of interest, such as schools, airports, and parks to view; and animate with motion graphics. Pan to the right again and you receive a menu of additional features, including hourly forecast details (happy hour on the patio anyone?), videos of local, regional and national forecasts, weather photography with some great shots by locals, and a social connections option that enables you to share your local weather with a custom message on Facebook or by email.


     5-Day Forecast with live animation                 Bing Map with motion graphics of radar



IMDb is an app (like Amazon Kindle) that hasn’t been updated to Windows Phone 7.5 with features like double-sided Live tiles, yet still takes advantage of Mango advancements on your phone to make the experience even better. For example, I tapped on Bing Search, selected “voice” and said “Ides of March movie.” Voila! IMDb recommended right there at the top of the screen. Launch the app to see show times, popularity rating, plot summary, cast, reviews, trailers to watch and more. Want to see another example of how Windows Phone 7.5 boosts this app? Select “watch trailer” and see how Internet Explorer 9 and hardware acceleration go to work to deliver a fast, eye-catching video.


        App Connect Recommends IMDb                    IMDb trailers are better with Mango



While I keep current on industry-related news, the same isn’t always true for the latest headlines in entertainment, sports, politics, etc. To date, I’ve relied upon drive time news radio, which is good but the information tends to be hyperlocal. So, I’m glad to discover CNN News from Gurund as a result of writing this column. After downloading the app, you choose topics from a broad list and you’re ready to go. Now you have the latest news at your fingertips that you can read from the app or Internet Explorer, share via Facebook, forward by email and more.


Choose Topics from a broad list with CNN         Post CNN News Stories to your Facebook

Have a Windows Phone App question? Ask me in the comments section of this post or Find me on Twitter

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  • Is it just me, or does the current Amazon.com app not integrate with App Connect as show above?

  • Speaking of Apples commercials. I thought about it and figured out why they are so good. When, for example, a iPhone commercial comes on the whole room goes quiet, even if everyone's seen that same commercial over and over it still goes quiet. My personal feeling is that I am about to get some very useful info, and once again even if I know I've seen that damn commercial 200 times I still look. It has a way of commanding attention and respect from the viewer, almost, no exactly the way a priest does when in prayer. Really!... Unbiasedly, think about your mood when one comes on. That's some darn good advertising. Who makes them?... Why is it so effective with that simple music and confident, almost cocky at times, and convincing male voice? Maybe I just answered my own question. Anyways, I'm lucky that I'm not a sheep, or as I like to say a "clone" or I would be up at ATT saying "One Please!" If Apples using subliminal messages then I hope we get some to, and soon.

  • @ tsrblke...Yes yes. The idea is not to emulate voice commands the way Apple does, you're right. MS sure can find a better way to improve on our already useful "TellMe" system. My point is to make sure that if the rumors are true about  MS view on Voice Command Software, then my suggestion is that voice control is the future of the UI, and we could use some of the feature that Siri has, done the Windows Phone way of course. I'm just using Siri as an example, and hoping the rumors aren't true, and that MS continues to improve on TellMe in future updates.

    You're also right about Kinect, XBox, and WP, voice command software. That's what confuses me about the news articles saying that MS is with Android in agreement that Siri is nuts. Siri is not perfect, but Apple is innovating, so I have to give them credit for trying. My other point was that they just released the 4S with plenty of very good advertising, and we need a campaign with a consistent theme like they have. There's no denying it.. It Works!

  • tsrblke
    327 Posts

    @Rodney E. Jones

    There are some things in Siri that definitely worry me.  The incredible level of GPS awareness is boarderline scary.  Quite frankly, I don't want it.  But I do want to know how much time goes into setting that up, do I have to tell siri a (at least once) "This is my home" This is my work" "This is locaiton X."  Or does it do it based on address book (which wouldn't work for me for several reasons, including that I work at a university campus where all my mail is routed through a main address several miles away from my actual building.)

    Also I'm not sure the natural language in all cases is the way to go. Eventually it'll just get too complex.  At the end of the commercial the girl says "I'm locked out."  Now what's wrong with saying "Find Locksmith"  I could see it become too dilute if we completely move away from commands, in that everything is pure natural language.  The number of permutations is endless.  It's a minor quibble, but I think it's huge in the future, because we'll want our phones to do more, and without establishing some form of communicating with them it'll all be babble (as everyone invents their own idiosyncratic ways of doing things.)

    Given the direction Xbox/Kinect is taking I can't see MS bashing apple on voice commands, (which are the future IMHO).  Perhaps the complain is the framework-less integration.  Yes I want my phone to be able to respond to my voice (I like the "Set timer 30 minutes" or "Set alarm 8:30PM") but I also want it to happen in mannor that doesn't result in any unexpected results.

  • adunn
    1 Posts

    Apps? how about spotify for the HTC Trophy? I thought it was going to come with Mango!

  • I agree with some of the previous posts - please work on getting vendors to develop their official apps for WP7. Official apps will give the platform more credibility. Also, from a personal point of view, I'm more inclined to install an official app than an unofficial app (even if it may offer more features). No offense to any of the developers with WP7 apps, but I'm more likely to associate quality and trust with official apps.

  • I've been hearing a lot in the news about how MS may think that Apples new "siri" voice command system is not the right direction. I'm not sure about MS view on this but I hope that they aren't opposed to more advanced voice control functions being implemented into future versions of WindowsPhone. From what I have seen on Apples iOS4 commercials their voice control system is light-years ahead of WP7's! Being able to say things like "wake me up at 8pm" is awesome and very useful. Dear Microsoft, if you think that this is crazy, or will make people look crazy then please think again. To just hate on apple shouldn't be our style. We know that they have a great product with great advertising, and that's what the consumer needs. Please just focus on making our product the best it can be and figure out a way to market WindowsPhone. All of those Apple fans are happy and have no reason to switch because they think the only other smartphone option is Android, who's partners by the way also use this really powerful tool to increase awareness called "TV". Just because Mango is out still doesn't mean anybody knows about or cares about WP. What's going to happen to change this? I hope this week, with Nokia's announcements, will start to change my view on this.....


    Seriously, Does anybody out there agree with me???? Don't be scared to say so if you do.

  • Conny
    60 Posts

    Happy Birthday Windows Phone!!!

  • bbraune
    2 Posts

    Could you please check in with SlingMedia and find out how their Mango update to the Slingplayer App is coming along?  The current version of Slingplayer basically doesn't work on phones updated to Mango.

    For me, one of the reasons I transitioned from Windows Mobile 6 to Windows Phone (and not Android or iPhone) was the existance of a Slingplayer app at the launch of the platform.  I have had the Slingplayer app pinned to the upper left-hand spot on my Start screen since the first day I picked up my Windows Phone.

  • Bushman
    12 Posts

    Most essential across all platforms


  • tsrblke
    327 Posts

    @Saijo George

    The WP7 does have shazam, but why bother it's also baked right into bing ;).  (Although I confess I've have mixed luck with it by both providers)

  • I'm from Estonia. Have been following WP7 blog for some time now. Bought me an WP7 phone also ... HTC Mozart. Couldn't buy apps because Estonia is not yet on a map of Microsoft :P (what concerns paid apps and music etc.) ... now I'm back on iPhone. When, oh when will you Microsoft expand the supported country list?! Timer Pack, gMaps and Sally's Salon LE were most used apps on my Mozart (last one was used by my 3 year old daughter :P).

  • For me Shazam would be right on top, which did not make it in the list :(

  • chinsen
    3 Posts


    Same here! In Aussie and after moving from Mango beta to the final build I've lost app connect and bing music search... What's the deal with this US only crap? getting really annoying now.

  • kakaharoo
    12 Posts

    Last FM is what I use instead of Pandora and I may even like it better.   On a side note... I find if funny when viewing this site on a WP7 phone that the right of the comments get cut off.  LOL

  • gfunk84
    9 Posts

    Is App Connect region-limited? Bing never recommends apps for me (I'm in Canada). If so, why? I can understand region-limiting stuff like Zune for licensing issues, etc. but what could possibly be the excuse here?

  • tsrblke
    327 Posts

    Yeah sorry Andy, I'm going to cry foul on the CNN app as well.  It's not an official app and (as I've complained before) therefore should not be able to use official branding.  Part of this means it can't tap into certain things than an official app does (like video).  I'm also just generally leary of things that try to latch on to large companies and create apps to catch that wave.

    More to the point though, if "CNN" is one of the top five apps on smartphones we don't have that, we have a knock off app.  It's a lot like saying "AngryBirds is a top app, and we have "Angry avians, which is close, but not exactly the same."

    3 Posts

    I'm good with all of these, except CNN. I'm all about seeing "official" apps in the Marketplace. I hope more come up. No disrespect to the devs out there, I'm not even one and don't do what they do. But I just like the feeling of seeing the app available that has come from the source.

  • Hawk
    61 Posts

    I use BofA and Weather Channel on a daily basis.  I had Accuweather on my iPhone and it was a horrible app.  The app I really want is Pandora but as far as I know, Pandora has no plans for a WP7 app.  I've heard Pandora could possibly be working on Mango via IE9 for their HTML5 website but not sure that has been confirmed.  An app would be best.