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December 6, 2013

Windows Phone 8 Start screen: Bill Reiss

We’d like to introduce you to Bill Reiss. He’s a Nokia Developer Ambassador for the southeast region of the United States, which includes Alabama, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.


As an Ambassador, Bill spends time helping Windows Phone app developers with building better apps, and helping developers understand the potential of the Windows Phone platform. For instance, he recently hosted the DVLUP Day event in Tampa, Florida.

Along with his own apps in the Windows Phone Store, Bill was the lead developer on the initial release of iHeartRadio for Windows Phone 7. He is also a casual game developer, and has been a Microsoft MVP for seven years.

“I have such a strong developer community in my region,” Bill says. “I am so fortunate that my full time employer, AgileThought, allows me to contribute to the community and have a role as a Nokia Developer Ambassador.”

Below Bill walks us through the apps on his Start screen.


Which apps have you prioritized?

My start screen changes a lot because I switch phones pretty often. Some things that always make it on there are twitter, the “Me” tile, and the Music tile. I am a bit addicted to podcasts, and I listen to at least a couple of hours of podcasts every day. Another must have app is App Spotlights, which alerts me when my apps are featured in the Windows Phone store anywhere in the world. In the latest update now I can also see how many reviews I have for my apps and what my average review score is.

I also love having a shared grocery list for my family. I do most of the grocery shopping and cooking, and it’s great to have a grocery list where family can update it and I can check it when I get to the store. This list is part of the under-used Rooms feature of Windows Phone 8, and I highly recommend setting up your own rooms if you haven’t already.

Right now I have my own Steve Scream app near the top just because it makes me smile. A few months ago I sponsored a Windows Phone app challenge where everyone created an app in a weekend inspired by the “Goat Scream” app which was Bryan Swan’s first app for Windows Phone. The goal was to get as many downloads as you could for your app in the first week it was in the Store. Even though I was running the contest I thought it would be fun to put a sound board app together of my favorite CEO (honestly no sarcasm intended). Kevin Schaefer won the contest by a huge margin and I highly recommend checking out his blog for fantastic information on how to make your app more popular.

What’s the last app you paid for?

The last app I paid for was Bringcast, a podcast player app. As I mentioned earlier I really love listening to podcasts, it’s what I do on my commute and often while I’m at work. I find the built-in podcast support not quite up to my needs so it’s great to have third party options available. I haven’t actually had time to set it up yet but I’m really looking forward to trying it out. Before that the last app I bought was probably Angry Birds Star Wars.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?


I’d probably have to say that my guilty pleasure is the GroupMe app. It’s the app that the Nokia Developer Ambassadors use to keep in touch and also release steam in our sometime stressful lives. If I need to be cheered up there is always someone there to help in our group chat. My fellow Ambassadors are an amazing group of people and are so supportive. We are all very competitive but supporting each other is the highest priority.

Which Nokia Lumia are you using now?

I’m using a yellow Lumia 1020 as my everyday phone. I took it to a concert recently where I was at the back of the amphitheater and I was able to take some great shots of the stage in very difficult conditions, combining the dark of the night with the bright lights on stage. I got a few fantastic shots when my friends weren’t able to get a single shot to turn out.

Being on AT&T, it’s great to have a choice of two fantastic high-end Windows Phones, the Lumia 1020 and the Lumia 925. I’m a big fan of the Lumia 925 too, and my wife will be switching to one as soon as DVLUP has them in their Rewards catalog. I also bought a Lumia 520 that I can use for testing. It’s an amazing value for $100 and it’s no surprise that it is the most popular Windows Phone in the world right now.

Which app can’t you do without?

This may seem a little self-serving, but to be honest the app I need more than any other is my own, Reading Lens. I developed it because my ability to read text is getting worse rapidly, and so it was something I really needed for myself, especially in dark restaurants. I must admit I stole the idea from Jay Kimble, a very active community leader in Tampa, and he still gives me a hard time about running with his idea and taking it to the next level. I just recently hit 200,000 downloads for my apps in total, and over 100,000 for Reading Lens and its Windows Phone 7 predecessor Reading Glasses. This is a great example of an app that took me relatively little time to create but has become very popular. My advice to everyone would be to try to find a fairly large gap that needs your help and fill it.