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Conquering the Windows Phone App Gap using Official and Third Party Alternatives


These days, it seems that any time an article mentions Windows Phone, the one topic that always inevitably comes up is the dreaded "app gap" issue. It's not without due cause, after all, anyone planning to spend any sum of money on not just a cell phone, but an ecosystem should definitely do some research first.  Therefore, reading about this "app gap" was a powerful motivator that pushed me to purchase a Windows phone device. I had developed a pure curiosity about the app ecosystem, and to be honest, while it's far from perfect, it is also not as bad as I have seen in the past, earlier attempts of the mobile operating system.

This article is a list of most of the popular apps and services that are available on Windows phone either via official apps or third party apps.  Many popular services are covered, and surprisingly, many big name game developers are onboard.  Honestly, there is a lot more in terms of gaming than I thought there would be.

The biggest hole for most people are Google apps.  If you're switching from Android, or even iOS then it's quite a culture shock.  There are some apps that help bridge the gap, such as Tubecast and Cloudmuzik. Sometimes, you will find a third party app that far exceeds the official app, such is the case with 6tag & instagram beta.  In the case of 6tag, it provides extra features that you would normally need another app for such as, creating collages or resizing a picture.  Other times you will find that your best bet is a mobile site on your web browser.  Google Plus is one such example.  All Google Plus apps are simply wrappers for the mobile site with ads inserted.  A total waste of everyones time.  In the case of IM+, you can talk to your Hangout buddies, but the features are incomplete, as you cannot video chat with them or send/receive pics.  Depending on your use scenario, and what apps your friends use, that may or may not be a problem.  Pulse news reader is the opposite case of Google Plus, as the Web app sucks.  Luckily, FUSE is a clone of the Android/iOS versions of Pulse News Reader, and is very similar in both use and functionality.

For those of you who aren't tied to Google services, Microsoft services are all fairly strong contenders if you fully invest in their ecosystem.  In all fairness, all other companies do the same thing.  For example:

  • Apple - imessage\facetime\iWork\itunes music & video\icloud\ibooks\Siri\etc
  • Google - hangouts\hangouts\Google Docs\Google Play music & video\google drive\Playbooks\Gmail\Google Now\etc
  • Microsoft - Lync\Skype\MS Office\Xbox live music & video\Onedrive\Outlook\Cortana\etc
  • Amazon - Amazon music & Video\cloud drive\Kindle\Firefly\etc
All these companies want to tie you to their particular ecosystems.  We can even add Samsung to the list, as they seem to have a third party app of every conceivable service.  Most likely to port over to their Tizen OS should they decide to leave Android.  Let me get back on topic, however.

If you aren't worried about cross company intercompatibility, then each ecosystem has their own version of most user needs.  If your particular group of contacts are within the same ecosystem, then there should be relatively few problems.

Enjoy this list that I have compiled.  I've used many of these apps on my own phone.  While many are not at feature parity with Android and iOS they nevertheless provide most features that users expect, and are usually just as beautiful to look at and use.  The majority of these are free apps, while some have ads, and in apps.  These are necessary evils pervasive on all platforms, Windows phone included.

Some Windows apps are "universal", meaning that they run on phone, pc, and tablet.  Look for the icon in middle of this picture on the app page to see if your app is universal.
On to the list, with live links for each app. Enjoy!






Social Media

Facebook + Messenger: Official + Official

Twitter: Official

Instagram: 6tag or Official

Snapchat: 6snap

Vine: 6sec

Linkedin:  Official

Tapatalk: Official

Pinterest: Official

Tinder: 6tin

Reddit: Baconit

Opentable:  Official

Yelp:  Official

Skype:  Official

ooVoo: Official

BBM (Blackberry Messenger):  Official


Streaming Music + Discovery

Pandora: Official

iheartradio: Official

Spotify: Official

Tunein:  Official

Soundhound:  Official

Shazam:  Official



News + Reading

Pulse News Reader:  Official Web appFuse, or Weave

Flipboard: Flipboard

Amazon Kindle:  Official

Comic reader:  Comicana

Adobe Reader: Official



TV Streaming + Entertainment

Netflix: Official

Mx Player: Official

VLC: Official

Espn: Official

VEVO: Official

Hulu: Official

Crackle: Official

IMDB:  Official

Roku: Official

History:  Official

A&E: Official

Syfy Now:  Official

USA Now:  Official

Fox Now:  Official

Discovery:  Official

Lifetime: Official

Telemundo: Official

Bravo:  Official

MTV:  Official

VH1:  Official


Banking

Chase: Official (Sadly, will be removed soon)

Bank of America: Official

Wells Fargo: Official

Citibank cards:  Official


Shopping

Amazon shopping: Official

Paypal: Official

Ebay: Official




Cloud Storage + File management

Dropbox:  Official

Box:  Official

Onedrive:  Official

File system:  File or Files & Folders Pro

Bittorrent:  Torrex Pro



Google Services

Google Search:  Official

Gtalk/Hangouts:  IM+

Google MusicPlayer for Google Play Music, Gooroovster or Cloudmuzik

Youtube:  Tubecast or Metrotube

Google Maps + Navigation/Transit:  Here Maps + Navigation / Transit or GMaps+

Gmail:  Stock email client, Metromail, or Gmail

Google Plus: Mobile site

Google Drive:  GDrive or Metro File Manager




Productivity + Tools

Microsoft Office:  Stock install

Onenote: Stock install

Office Lens: Official

Flashlight:  Flashlight

Speedtest:  Official

Network Speed Test:  Network Speed Test

Wikipedia:  Wikipedia

Zedge:  Official

Indeed:  Official


Image Editing

Photoshop Express: Official

Picsart:  Official

Fresh Paint: Official

TouchRetouch: Official

Camera360: Official


Gaming

There are far too many games out there to list them all, so here are the links most popular developers pages.

Gameloft: Official

Ubisoft: Official

Square Enix: Official

EA: Official

Microsoft: Official

Rovio: Official

Hexage (David Peroutka):  Official

Disney:  Official

Halfbrick:  Official

Imangi Studios: Official

Miniclip:  Official

Zeptolab:  Official

Sega:  Official

Namco:  Official

Realnetworks:  Official


Emulators

Nes: Vneslight

Snes: Snes8x

Gameboy: VGBC8 & Purple Cherry

Gameboy Advanced: VBA8

Atari 2600: EMU7800

Playstation: EmiPSX

As Windows phone merges with Windows RT and we end up with more universal apps, I'm hoping to see apps such as Flipboard and VLC media player cross over.  Retroarch is another major app that should be finding its way into the Windows store in the near future.

This is it for my list right now.  If you have any suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments section below.
If you like this page, or any of my articles, please feel free to click on an ad when visiting.  It helps keep the blog going.  If that sounds like too much work, then please share the blog with your friends! I love visitors!

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