Best Windows Phone apps: Pin these to your start screen now

Nokia's Lumia 800 has given Windows Phone a huge boost, accelerating its App Marketplace. Here are the 16 apps you need to get started.

Nokia's Lumia 800 has given Microsoft's Windows Phone OS a new lease of life, contributing to a definite boost in the number of good apps being released for the platform  in recent months.

Here's our choice of 16, although like our iPhone roundup, we've deliberately left out Facebook and Twitter, which are already likely to be on your mobile. But what else should you be downloading and using?


Best Music: Spotify

Predictable? Perhaps. Spotify is an excellent app on all the devices it's been released for. The Windows Phone version fits in beautifully with the aesthetic of Microsoft's OS though, as you swipe sideways to access playlists, search for music and see what friends have been listening to. Playlists can be cached on the handset for offline listening, and in a neat WP feature, you can pin playlists to the Start screen as live tiles.
: Free + £9.99 monthly subscription
Download here 


Best Shopping: eBay

eBay is another company getting its app on as many different smart phones and tablets as possible, and the Windows Phone version is easy and quick to use, whether you're bidding or checking on the current price of your own sale items. It also uses the pin feature to put specific items on your Start screen.
Cost: Free
Download here 


Best Location App: Foursquare

There are plenty of people who are still sceptical about whether Foursquare is more than a novelty, but as the social location service evolves, it's becoming less about points and badges, and more about finding interesting places to go, based on your friends and previous check-ins. It looks great on Windows Phone, especially when you're flicking between friends' activities and nearby venues.
Cost: Free
Download here 

Cocktail Flow

Best Booze App: Cocktail Flow

Christmas time is coming -- it's time to stock up on alcohol so you can get pickled before the turkey comes out of the oven. Cocktail Flow is the perfect Windows Phone app to fuel your festive binges -- and, indeed, year-round tippling. Tell it what drinks you have, and it'll recommend a cocktail to make, including any missing ingredients. All within an elegant interface built from the ground up for WP.
Cost: £2.29
Download here


Best Animal Antics: Kinectimals

Kinectimals is one of the most family friendly games available for Microsoft's Kinect Xbox 360 accessory: the world's first gesture-controlled furry animals game. Possibly. Its Windows Phone spin-off is fun too, letting you play with your cub on the go, including unlocking five new ones to play with on the console.
Cost: £2.29
Download here 

TuneIn Radio

Best Radio: TuneIn Radio

Another app that's a class act across various smart phone platforms. As on iOS and Android, TuneIn is a comprehensive way to listen to traditional and online radio stations -- more than 50,000 stations sorted by category (music, talk, sports and so on), as well as location and language, with podcasts thrown in for good measure. It's particularly good for tuning in to British stations when abroad -- as long as you're on a Wi-Fi connection, of course.

Cost: Free
Download here 


Best Social: Seesmic

Windows Phone is the most social smart phone OS around, thanks to its deep integration of Facebook. If you're looking for a bit more, though, Seesmic is a very good app to install. Why? You can use it to access several Twitter accounts, as well as Facebook and -- if you're using it -- Salesforce Chatter. Live Tiles for the Twitter timeline, replies and direct messages can be pinned to the start screen for fast access too.
Cost: Free
Download here 


Best App Discoverer: AppFlow

Windows Phone's Marketplace store doesn't have nearly as many apps as rivals like Apple's App Store and Google's Android Market, but it's growing fast. Hence AppFlow: an app for finding other apps. It gathers Windows Phone apps in genre-themed lists (Indie Games, Rising Stars, Staff Picks and so on), to help you discover the best apps, whether new or old.
Cost: Free
Download here

Nokia Drive

Best Navigation: Nokia Drive

Okay, this is slightly cheeky, since the only way to get Nokia Maps right now is by buying a Lumia 800 -- although recent reports suggested the app might be crackable to run on other phones if you're that way inclined. We've been playing with an almost-final version on the device, and it's very impressive. Not least because you can download maps before travelling and store them on the phone, to avoid sailing through your data allowance.
Cost: Free on Lumia 800


Thumba Cam

Best Photography: Thumba Cam

No, Instagram isn't available on Windows Phone yet -- in fact, it's only on the iPhone, which is a shame. At this point in time, though, Thumba Cam makes for an appealing alternative on Microsoft-powered phones. It has more than 40 effects (filters, in Instaparlance) to apply to your photos, as well as vintage-looking films. You can crop and rotate your shots, and then upload them to Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.
Cost: £0.79
Download here



Best FaceTime Rival: Tango

Skype might be owned by Microsoft nowadays, but you can't (yet) get it for Windows Phone. Until that happens -- we suspect it'll be baked into the OS itself at some point -- try Tango. It's a voice over IP app that lets you make voice and video calls over 3G and Wi-Fi, and it works with the existing versions on iOS, Android and PCs. You'll need to persuade friends to switch to it, though.
Cost: Free
Download here 



Best News: Pulse

There are some good individual newspaper and website apps for Windows Phone, but if you want to cast your net wider, Pulse is an essential download. It puts a shiny, swipey interface on traditional RSS feeds, letting you keep tabs on your favourite sites, while sharing interesting stories to Facebook and Twitter. As with all the apps in this roundup, Pulse blends in seamlessly with the Windows Phone OS' design.
Cost: Free
Download here 


Best Casual Game: Orbital

As you'll know if you've played the iOS version, Orbital sounds simple -- pop expanding orbs to get points -- but is ferociously addictive. It's a genuinely tactile game that works marvellously on touchscreens, and while it's easy to grasp what to do and how to do it, there's plenty of depth in figuring out how best to use the orbs. Xbox Live leaderboards and achievements, naturally, are included.
Cost: £2.29
Download here 


Fusion: Sentient

Best Hardcore Game: Fusion: Sentient

There's a good flow of exclusive games coming to Windows Phone thanks to Microsoft's Xbox history, and Fusion: Sentient is the one that's kept us gripped to our handset. It's a real-time strategy game that sees you waging war with a troop of robo-warriors, trying your cybernetic hands at a variety of missions. Like Kinectimals, there are features to link with the main Xbox 360 game if you own both, too.
Cost: £2.29
Download here 

British Airways

Best Travel: British Airways

Okay, okay, if you never fly British Airways, this app won't float your boat. If you do, though, it's excellent. You can check on live arrival and departure times for any flight, as well as accessing check-in times and other information for your flight in particular. There are terminal maps for destination airports, and a mobile boarding pass feature. Best of all, you can pin your pass to the start screen -- great for nervous travellers fretting at the thought of missing their boarding call.
Cost: Free
Download here 


Best RSS Reader: Fuse

If Pulse is a news aggregation app to make people forget about RSS, Fuse might be the choice for people who've been using RSS for a bit longer, and aren't intimidated by it. Not that the app is geeky -- it looks very stylish, pulling in feeds from Google Reader, and making it easy to group and edit them, while pinning specific groups and feeds to the Start Screen.
Cost: £0.99
Download here

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