Apps and Marketplace on Windows Phone – A short look over Windows Marketplace:
Before Smartphone\Superfone era, there was hardly any concept of app market for Smartphones, but today somehow the success of an ecosystem get measured by the number of downloads the official app market gets going on daily basis or the number of apps registered into it. Windows Marketplace doesn’t boosts on these stats as of now, but its not something that one can just write off in its early age.
I was able to see Official Twitter/Facebook/FourSquare apps available right there which was something even Symbian craving for till date. And also the way, big titles are growing inside Windows Marketplace, the picture soon gonna change.
You will say that you kept on hearing similar about Qt apps on Symbian, but it didn’t happened that way, then what makes me say that the story would be different this time?
There are multiple reasons.
First issue with apps on Symbian was tedious development, while the development on Android\iOS was comparatively easier. I see a competitive edge for Windows Phone here considering the well established IDE like Microsoft Visual Studio being in their hands for the development of Windows Phone apps. Almost all the developers around the globe would have started their work without Visual Studio itself or would have gone through it one point of time or other. Not only that but you can find extensive material on coding and other things via the same IDE that may help even a newbie to start the development for Windows Phone.
Second issue with Apps on Symbian or Android was piracy part. We still see best of apps on iOS rather than their Android counterpart as its easy to install pirated apps on Android/Symbian in comparison to closed Apple ecosystem. In case of Windows Phone, I myself couldn’t find a way to install .xap files unless one does a dev unlock that is also not available for free as of now. Not only that but Microsoft itself being big of Stop Piracy has already established measures to check such pirated apps and this part could sure lure developers as Microsoft letting them get the right price for their apps (somewhat higher than any other platforms as even crap apps are selling at higher price than). Though end users will be annoyed by this, but in the long run that will result into higher number of apps on the platform and that is already happening at a good pace.
Third issue with Apps/development on almost all platforms other than iOS is the fragmentation. In Symbian, @janole needs to develop for S60 and S^3 separately and then he also have to think of changed styles in Symbian Belle, in Android, almost each app is trying to cope up with the UI changes coming with ICS though App developers themselves don’t know that how many Handsets will be on ICS by end of the year. Obviously, a fragmented platform would never be an easy choice for developers as it causes them to cope up with the OS changes more than demands of their customer base and bugs. Like Apple iOS, Microsoft Windows Phone also trying to keep the fragmentation minimal or almost eliminated by keeping the hardware specs capable since the start and rolling out the updates to all the devices most of the time. Sure would help Microsoft in bringing more developers on board.
Apart from the above reasons, there are multiple competitions and promotional offers being run from Microsoft End to bring as many as developers on board (like thousands of Lumia devices being sent for free to developers around the globe) and I am sure that this initiatives not gonna in vein.
Now about the Marketplace itself,
The first thing you notice when you open the Marketplace is that aside from apps, you’ve got music and games as available categories, which is a quite better approach than Android or iTunes Store might have taken about such content. Swiping to the left takes you to the Featured page of the Marketplace, which brings up selected titles on daily basis.
In the actual store, you get the typical views like featured, categories, new, top etc. Categories divide the apps further into all, Apps from Nokia*, entertainment, music + video, tools + productivity, lifestyle, children + family, news + weather, travel + navigation, heath + fitness, photos, games, social, sports, personal finance, business, books + reference, education and government + politics (I think these categories will keep on updating also). And all the time, UI will keep on following Metro UI guidelines.
*Look like Nokia missed to put their category name in small caps as Windows Phone platform usually doing with its headings and subheadings intentionally.
Once you’ve selected a category, the list view shows you the typical icon, app name, and rating on a five-star scale and also shows you a short description of the app directly below the name. Tapping on an app takes you to its information page, where you get the price, a full description, screen shots, reviews, version number, supported languages, and a list of phone services that the app needs access to (similar to what you find on Android when you start installing an app).
Interesting is to see two options try and buy. Yes! almost all the apps in Windows Marketplace are free for trial (with limited features or ads or a small timeframe to use them), so no matter you are pissed off from the high price of a game, you can sure give it a try. For free apps, the two options will be install and share.
Once you’ve decided to /install buy, the process happens somewhat like as it happens on iOS or some Android ROMs means app will be shown in your app list and progress of the installation will be shown to you by a small bar under the app icon (text here), and after a few moments, you’ll find the app has been added to your applications list.
I found searching part not at par with other platforms and it was very strange to see that it doesn’t give you a suggestion in case you typed the spelling wrong, but till I know what I am going to search, I have no major issues with the Marketplace app at least.