7 Must-Have Apps For Windows Phone 82:00 PM EST Tue. Jan. 15, 2013
Windows Phone 8 is by far Microsoft's best "pocket" operating system yet, and it includes mobile versions of its Office suite apps. And while Redmond's latest tile-based OS has only been out since October, there are already a fair number of very good apps available for it. Here are seven must-haves.
While Dropbox has yet to deliver its own app for the Windows Phone platform, BoxFiles for Dropbox is a third-party solution that fills the void nicely. It presents a gorgeous design, works seamlessly with on-device files and pulls up existing Dropbox folders as if they were its own. There are free and paid editions; the latter also works with SkyDrive.
Toggling device radios when not in use is a great way to conserve battery life. But Windows Phone buries Wi-Fi and other radio controls under several layers of finger-flips. Bringing them to the (ahem) surface is Network Dashboard, a 99-cent app that turns tiles into radio on-off switches. It works with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and carrier radios but not others such as with GPS or NFC.
Easily monitor that improved battery life with Battery Level, a free Windows Phone 8-exclusive app that displays device juice level and charging status on a live tile on the home screen. It also can be configured to display on the phone's lock screen.
USA Today, Gannet's flagship news service, landed on Windows Phone 8 a few weeks ago with a gorgeous look and lightning-fast speed. The app launches into top stories and slides into a tray of section tiles that drill into inherently readable white article text on a charcoal grey background. But, in its rush to publication, Gannet omitted live tile functionality and killed backward compatibility.
Tired of waiting for contacts to appear when trying to make a call? RapDialer is a free, third-party replacement app for Microsoft's default phone dialer that displays contacts instantaneously. Tap on a contact to make a phone call; swipe to the right to open a blank SMS message; long-press to open a range of other options, including viewing the profile and sending the contact information in a SMS, email or QR code.
Beautiful phones deserve a beautiful news reader, and Weave is one such app. The free app for Windows Phone 7 and up opens by asking for a list of likes, displaying a long list of news about preferred subjects from reputable sites. Live tiles for each category can be pinned to the home screen, and the app automatically presents the oft-checked feeds there too.
If you're like us, you prefer the freedom to choose which search engine to use. While Windows Phone 8 devices have their search button hard-wired to Microsoft's Bing, Google for Windows Phone 8 is an elegant workaround that accesses the search engine from a live tile on the home screen. This free app for Windows Phone 8 and 7 accepts typed or spoken input and neatly dodges the Redmond requirement.