by wsjudd 01-03-2013 18:00 - edited 25-02-2013 14:28
Good evening giffgaffers! Today we'll be looking at 10 of the most essential apps I've found during my time with the Nokia Lumia 620. These apps should also prove useful for other Windows Phone 8 devices from Nokia, HTC and Samsung. Let's get right to the selections, shall we?
One of the biggest names that Microsoft has brought to the Windows Phone platform has been Skype - never mind that the company was acquired by Microsoft for that purpose. The Windows Phone 8 version is a cut above Skype on other platforms, with a slick Metro UI and all of the calling functionality you'd expect.
One of the few paid apps on our list, Runtastic Pro is an inexpensive upgrade to the exercise app Runtastic that removes the ads you'd otherwise find. On a small resolution display like the Lumia 620's, this is particularly nice. Runtastic is my go-to fitness app on Windows Phone, and it offers comprehensive tracking of all kinds of exercise and a nice tie-in to its own and major social networks.
8. Nokia Drive+
Drive+ just entered beta recently, but already it's one of the better navigation options on Windows Phone. The Nokia-made app is surprisingly available for all Windows Phone 8 devices (including those made by Samsung and HTC), and provides excellent turn-by-turn navigation as well as the ability to save offline maps - definitely a godsend for any low signal areas.
YouTube is a woeful experience on Windows Phone with the official app - which is nothing more than a link to YouTube's mobile site. MetroTube goes much further, providing a Metro-fied window into YouTube, allowing you to easily search and stream videos. With Google remarking that the number of Windows Phone users is too small to justify development of a full official app, this is the best thing available at the moment.
I was surprised to find this app for Windows Phone, as it initially released only on Android and iOS. The app is branded with CrossCountry trains, but will work for rail journeys across the UK. The app provides the ability to buy tickets on the go, and more usefully the ability to see up-to-the-second information on every train in the country. This means that you no longer need to find an information board at a station to work out which platform you need to be on - you can just look on your phone before you even get there.
5. Nokia Music
Another Nokia app that's recently been updated, Nokia Music provides a Rdio style listening experience based on stations. The recent Nokia+ subscription for £4 a month allows you to skip or download songs to your heart's content, as well as stream the music at a higher bitrate than normal.
Keeping up to date with the latest news is a big part of my job, and whatever platform I use I need to find a good RSS reader. The best one I've found on Windows Phone is a paid app called Nextgen Reader, which syncs with Google Reader as you'd expect to provide access to all the articles you're interested in. The in-app preview of this content isn't as robust as on Android, but the app is still some way ahead of Google Reader's mobile version.
3. PC Remote
This useful app works similarly to Unified Remote for Android, allowing you to control your computer's mouse using your phone. This is an essential app for anyone that has their computer hooked up to a TV or projector, as you can queue up the next episode of Breaking Bad without needing to get up from the couch.
With the continued absence of Dropbox on Windows Phone, the next best thing is Microsoft's alternative - SkyDrive. You'll get 7 GB of free storage just by using the app on the Lumia 620, so it's definitely worth a shot. As with Dropbox, you'll get remote access to your files and automatic image uploads, although this won't be much use to you without installing SkyDrive on your Windows PC too.
Cinemagraph is one of the most magical apps for Windows Phone. The idea is is to add a bit of motion to a normal still portrait, a bit like magical photographs work in Harry Potter. You'll take a picture, then choose which parts you want to animate. The software is pretty robust, and you'll be quite pleased with the results once you experiment for a while. The .GIF image files produced are easily shared via Twitter or Facebook, too.
Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to share your own Windows Phone 8 selections in the comments below - I'm always on the lookout for more great apps to try out! Thanks for reading and have a good one!
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