The Pursuit of ‘Appyness: Which apps are still missing from Windows Phone?

Windows Phone has come a long, long way in a very short amount of time. The latest version, Windows Phone 8.1 – which launched this month on the new Lumia 630, and will roll out to existing WP8 users from June – has answered many of the criticisms leveled at previous releases. Finally, it feels like a complete mobile operating system.

But in almost all reviews of the OS, and in many commentaries on the platform as a whole, there is one area in which Windows Phone is frequently criticised for continuing to lag behind its rivals: apps.

At its BUILD conference in San Francisco last month, Microsoft revealed that the Windows Phone Store is now home to more than 250,000 apps – and that’s a remarkable achievement, whichever way you look at it. Little wonder, then, that there is talk of the ‘app-gap’ finally being closed for the OS, although we would argue that that is not quite the case yet.

Early last year, we asked our readers which apps they missed most from Windows Phone (and its PC counterpart, Windows 8), and many of the apps that they listed have now launched on the platform. But gaps still remain, and in some cases, gaps have been filled in not by official apps, but by third-party developers, such as Rudy Huyn and Daniel Gary. The brilliant and tireless efforts of developers like these have brought software and features to Windows Phone that users would otherwise still be waiting for, since some brands continue to overlook the platform.

But for those new to Windows Phone, the presence of official apps remains an important measure of its suitability for their needs – it is not a compelling argument to an iPhone user that, although there is no official Snapchat app on Windows Phone, there is 6snap; or that while there is no DropBox, there is FileBox. Most potential buyers will not wait around long enough to hear that these third-party apps are excellent alternatives, and will simply be content to stick with Android or iOS.  

The speed at which apps arrive on Windows Phone remains a problem too. Secret, for example, launched on iOS in February, and has just launched on Android. But its developers have said nothing yet of plans to launch on Windows Phone.

However, we shouldn’t overstate our case. The ecosystem isn’t perfect, but it has come a long way, and the addition of big names like Instagram, Vine and (soon) BlackBerry Messenger has given the platform a considerable boost. But gaps still remain.

Whether it’s your airline, your bank, your preferred supermarket, your favourite newspaper, your sports team, your local public transport service, or something else entirely, there’s a good chance that some aspects of your life remain unfulfilled by apps on Windows Phone – apps that may well be available on rival platforms.  

So we’d love to hear from you, to let us know which apps you’re still waiting to see on Windows Phone, and just how important those apps are to you. Are you considering abandoning Windows Phone because of the app situation, or have you perhaps recently switched to the platform despite missing one or two important apps? Is there one app that you want more than any other, or maybe a bunch of apps that you don't really miss on WP? 

Please share your thoughts and comments below, or send us a tweet via @neowinfeed with the hashtag #appyness

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Oh there are loads, so "AMEX, StarBucks, HALO (cab app), TINDR, Steam, Vyper VPN.. list goes on but MS is getting a load better and with 8.1 it's turning into a great OS.

Nest Thermostat, American Express, starbucks official google maps and youtube (they should do whatever they can to make google do it as quickly as possible).
also more importantly, they should make developers maintain existing apps. by growing market share or whatever tools they have. regular updates is necessary to keep the good experience.

HSBC and all Sonic the Hedgehog games. :)

It would also be great to get up-to-date Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare, Whats App, and Instagram apps that match their iOS and Android counterparts.

Uvo Services for my Kia (Uvo by Microsoft only has iOS and Android support), my bank, a working Best Buy app (one that actually resets the Deal of the Day), ISIS, and Starbucks off the top of my head.

Wifi Tether (without phone carriers involved) + top 500 Android apps. Microsoft can motivate developers to start developing for their patform by offering the top 500 App developers a large sum of money for the first couple of years. I'm sure they can afford it and besides, Microsoft would greatly benefit from the publicity <-

2 Takeout apps, about 3 banking apps, BullionVault, GoDaddy, Pinterest, Bamboo Loop, Bamboo Paper, Hailo, Life of George (Lego), local transport apps, Steam, PADI, Black Board (university stuff), Elance, Google Maps, Wolfram Alpha, many Autodesk apps, Coursera, MyOpenCourses, my mobile carrier account management app and the Parrot Drone app.

Now, I know that some of these have 3rd party (non official) apps in Windows Phone, but I don't care much for those.

Also some of these might have apps available since the last time I checked. But these were missing when I swiped my WP 7.8 for a Galaxy S5. I am still using a WP 8 for work so I got Intagram BETA and others.

Denon remote app (from denon company) / Airplay Equivalent or compatible apps / Liftmaster app to remotely open my garage door :o) / Navigon version that include CANADA MAPS !

Steam, OpenVPN, Snapchat, Tinder, SoundCloud, Flickr, 4Shared, Mega.com, Brazilian banks apps, Vivo operator app, Candy Crush Saga.

And the final version of: Instagram, Waze, Twitter, Facebook, Facebook Messenger and Xbox Music.

What I want is essentially a WP/W8 version of BASIC. Something to bring development back to us mere mortals. I could do BASIC programming back in the DOS/Win3.* days, making a few little games, even an art program (and you could print what you made!).

A great Twitter client like Tweetbot would be nice. I use Tweet It! but I don't think it works as nice as Tweetbot on the iPhone. Official Dropbox, Soundcloud, Uber, Pinterest, Minecraft, Timehop, IFTTT, Tinder, Snapchat and Google apps (specially Gmail and YouTube) are still missing.
Other thing that bothers me a lot are official apps that lack features or offer worst experiences than their iOS and Android counterparts like Tumblr (awful), Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook.
On the bright side, in some cases the Windows developer community brings some really great 3rd party apps like 4th & Mayor, Poki, Local Events for Facebook (really nice app I've been trying).

I'm not chasing after the latest "disruptive" social experience nor do I play many games on my phones. But for younger people, it's the lack of support in these two categories that hurt the platform the most.

I agree with many of the suggestions above. For me personally, I'd love to see official Sonos apps come to Windows Metro (both phone and tablet). The 3rd party alternative (Phonos) is serviceable on Windows Phone, but very limited on Windows 8.

Regarding the "app gap", I think there is something more driving the gap than mere lack of market share. I think Microsoft as a whole suffers from a lack of mind share among younger Web 2.0 and mobile developers, few of which seem use Microsoft platforms of any kind. For example, both IE and Windows 8.x have substantial market share in absolute terms (100s of millions of users) yet many Web sites don't bother to support modern IE or even consider building apps for the Windows Store.

Microsoft's best hope I think is to attack this holistically. If Visual Studio enabled mobile devs to create killer cross-platform apps that could work (or easily be extended) across iOS, Android, and Windows, the marginal cost of also doing a Windows app would be dramatically lowered. I'm not sure Microsoft has the fortitude or desire to port Visual Studio to OSX, but imagine what that could do to potentially get developers engaged in Microsoft's technology. Heck, even Office for iPad is a start. Microsoft can't lead with Windows anymore; proprietary Windows-only software and services is what is killing Microsoft in the dev community.

Better Games like N.O.V.A. 1,2,3 for phones with 512MB Ram.

If the ancient iPhone 3GS or the iPod touch 4th Gen (256MB Ram) can play these games SMOOTHLY there is absolutely no reason why lower end LUMIAS like the 520 shouldn't.

The ability to PRINT perhaps? What good is office if I can't print over wifi? Companies like Epson, HP and Canon make their own Apps for Android and ios where users can Print and scan directly to their AIO Printers.

Better Support for cars equipped with FIAT/Microsoft Blue&me?

Better Apps for OBD Diagnostics? Perhaps something that would rival Torque on Android?

Official support for other Fun Gadgets and Gimmicks like the AR Drone, Philips home automation or ARDUINO???

An AirDrone alternative???

Remote Desktop????????????????


...
You got to keep in mind that for a computing platform to be successful it's got to be FUN!

Edited by architecton, May 25 2014, 10:56am :

Netherlands: more specialized medical apps, like : Farmacotherapeutisch Kompas.
It seems the IPhone/IPad has almost all the medical apps now, which means people working in that sector always use the IPhone/IPad.
Also a lot of commercials on dutch television always show App Store and Play Store, almost never the Windows store. Which doesn't help to promote Windows Phone.

Banking Apps, Singapore
There isn't a single banking app from any local/foreign banks here in Singapore.

Tango for WP8.x
Tango release their app for WP7.x but decides against supporting WP8.x. Even there WP7.x port which is lacking in many features (and also Windows desktop client) hasn't been updated for years.

Rebtel
While Rebtel app does work on WP8.x, current version doesn't supports VoIP calling and will eat into your telco monthly local call time limit. As replied by the Rebtel Team, the Windows Phone 7.x/8.x app will not be updated and no new versions will come out in the near future. Even the Windows desktop client were killed off completely.

Square and/or PayPal credit card apps WITH swipe dongle. PayPal only has a very basic balance/send/request app for WP8, but it can't take card payments or photograph checks.

Also, XBOX Music desperately needs multiple fixes. The most glaring is its tendency to overwrite artist and song info and album art, even if it is properly embedded in the track. If Nokia MixRadio can cope with obscure music not in the big databases, do should XBOX Music.

I think that the mostly missing apps are those that are more usefoul... At least here in Italy most banks have not an app for wp, same for credit cards... Also phones operator have very crappy apps, updated more than ome year ago, when available... This for me is the real app gap...

Agree with comments that say the gap is more with phone availability, which will grow market share and developer attention.

Microsoft - PLEASE DEMOCRATIZE CELLPHONES - Sell unlocked phones in the Microsoft Store, BestBuy etc.

Why can't we easily buy unlocked phones and BYOD to our carrier? My preferred carrier has BYOD monthly pricing (Telus). A step further, Microsoft could offer 24 month payment plans on the phones.

In Canada today we have almost no selection of Windows Phones.

Phones should be like laptops: Buy the hardware and connect it to any network you choose.


Edited by Thoughtful, May 25 2014, 6:29am :

Imagine the amount of goodwill MS would get from customers if they went to an unlocked model. Wouldn't this outperform any benefits they currently get from Carrier exclusive promotion?

Edited by Thoughtful, May 25 2014, 6:37am :

Strava and Misfift

Use both of them often. One for tracking cycling (and the alternative trackers using gps are nothing like Strava). The other of course if for monitoring an activity tracker called a Shine so I use it daily.

Google maps is pretty good for finding routes for cycling. But it seems that Google v Wp has become a political battle (so childish). At least Google can see WP becoming big so they are dong all they can to hold it back. Not many other see WP becoming any kind of threat ever.

Edited by babyHacker, May 25 2014, 3:57am :

I'm only waiting for BBM, actually. But I think the bigest problem is support from developers. For instance, Twitter and Instagram have forgotten they have apps on WP.

already being a windows phone 8.1 user honestly its smaller stuff that i am missing at this point. My bank has an android and an iPhone app but not a Windows phone one. but its a small Credit Union with only 3 locations. I would also like to see more Chromecast supported apps (currently there is only 1)

Maps!! Here Maps/Drive/Lense don't work where I am from & they decided to remove the built-in MS maps from Lumia. This is so dam annoying & personally cant wrap my mind around this!
Microsoft needs to offer their maps app separately in the store(ASAP). Most of the third party apps don't work & if they do ... they are ugly, have very limited features & ads.

For me the HERE services are all in the store. Otherwise you could set your phone to US and download the app then.

I'm using Cortana which isn't available in my country.

It's really not only missing Apps, it's the quality of Apps that are mind numbing. When I had a Windows Phone all of my financial institution Apps were lacking compared to my iPhone. Navy Fed, USAA, Chase, American Express, Discover, and I could go on. They handicap the Windows Phone App, while the iPhone App has all the cool features.

What WP needs is a killer apps that will mark the difference. MS did it fine with Office but it is not enough. And Halo... well, it was a normal game with the Halo tag.

And for developers, i think that MS is giving the wrong messages, i don't know if MS will fully support WP as if or if they will decide to "i give it up with this platform and i will start over with a new one"

Brony said,

And for developers, i think that MS is giving the wrong messages, i don't know if MS will fully support WP as if or if they will decide to "i give it up with this platform and i will start over with a new one"

I'm willing to bet that if WP doesn't increase its marketshare within 2 years, Microsoft will scrap it and start again. There's only so long a dead horse can be flogged.

simplezz said,

I'm willing to bet that if WP doesn't increase its marketshare within 2 years, Microsoft will scrap it and start again. There's only so long a dead horse can be flogged.


I don't see them scrapping it and starting again. If they scrap it, it would be to drop it all together. I see now reason to try and say build a new OS. WP is on its way to merging with Windows itself.

That is a fact that should help developers feel more confident about supporting it. Their work will translate to more platforms.

Microsoft needs to understand that its not about helping or fighting with developers to convince them to make windows phone apps. FIRST we need a phone, FIRST we need an iconic phone, FIRST we need a world phone available to all US mayor carrier when launched, FIRST we need a high-end "Surface Phone" that can compete with Apple and Samsung in every aspect. Don't get me wrong, Nokia has excellent quality phones, I personally own a Lumia 928 but we need a distinguished and innovated phone for all carrier, not 10 different versions, names or models, so please make the Surface Phone and then Surface Phone 2. Microsoft has the power to do it, the quality from the Surface team, and the experience from Nokia, so make an unique Surface Phone for all carriers, make advertisement like never before, have all the news channels talking about it, and again advertisement on every tv channels. After that's done, you will see developers fighting to make windows phone apps because people will actually buy a slim and well build Surface Phone. Apps, Apps, Apps, once again same story here, OK we need those common apps like facebook, youtube, whatsapp, etc Microsoft please never think that having those apps that everyone uses in a daily basic is all that we need. Some people like me buy a simple door lock with Bluetooth or NFC and guess what? no windows app, people like my buy a thermostat from Honeywell or 3M and no official app, this is just an example of many things that's happening to people like me who really like Windows Phone OS but still there is a lot to do before the one digit market share changes to two digit.

i think all the apps i want are here my problem is that the apps come and never get updated we have about 30% of the features that you'd find on apps thats are on IOS and andorid

With all the Weather app out, Not one has a really good NEXRAD weather map with real time radar and weather Alerts like Tornados and Hurricane Alerts.

And a Really good Comicbook reader with options to read cbr cbz and even pdf files.

Also The official Marvel App.

For what I use my phone for WP offers pretty much everything I need and having full office suite (not only free viewers) is actually huge plus for me. Other than email, light office work, Skype, facebook, Twitter and mobile banking I personally don't need much else but with that said the app situation is still pretty sad. Even a good number of official apps that are available lack features and polish that their iOS counterparts have.

I am currently using an iPhone from my work and although I don't really care for it much I have to admit that a lot of the apps available for both platforms are generally better on iOS.

That being said Microsoft isn't standing still. They are pushing hard on many fronts and some of their efforts are slowly but surely starting to pay off. Their aggressive push in the lower end of the spectrum and in developing markets is slowly starting to pay off and I think the outcome of this going to start being more obvious in the coming months/year.

Also their recent deal/acquisition of Xamarin will hopefully start winning more developers over. Being able to write truly cross-platform native apps (and not some HTML5 apps wrapped in a web browser control) that really share over 90% of their code and work on everything from iOS and Android to Windows 8.1/RT is huge in my opinion. To me even if you don't care about WP yet it's still worth it to use their tools so you can use a common language and API's for all major platforms. Not to mention not having to deal with Objective C. I'm not huge Java fan either but it ain't so bad. Objective C on the other hand *shudder*

Anyways this comment turned out longer than the article itself :)

Edited by Obry, May 24 2014, 10:28pm :

apart from missing, please enhance the functionality of existing ones to the level of their android/ios counterparts. also please embrace the design more. so many apps look as if they were designed by programmers...

As long as Windows Phone is stuck at 3% marketshare, there'll always be an App-Gap. Be it completely missing, delayed appearance, or just infrequent updates, a tiny market doesn't command developer resources like iOS and Android do.

Whenever I see adverts on UK TV about products with apps, they only ever mention Apple and Android/Google Play. Windows Phone isn't even on the radar. Sure, developers will take Microsoft's money and make a token app, but it won't get the same resources devoted to it that the two major platforms do. I don't see that changing in the near future unless Microsoft can increase its marketshare.

And don't forget, while some sites like this one may declare that the OS is complete, it's still far far behind iOS and Android in terms of features, quality, and usability.

simplezz said,
And don't forget, while some sites like this one may declare that the OS is complete, it's still far far behind iOS and Android in terms of features, quality, and usability.

What features are missing that are so crucial?

Global share might be 3%, but that's a very narrow viewpoint from which to examine the situation. In some countries, market share exceeds 10%.

Also saying it lags behind iOS and Android in terms of features, quality and usability is just clutching. It's widely acknowledged that Windows Phone has one of the most, if not THE most, easy to use of interfaces. Also with 8.1 it has gained many features and is now on a par with the other OS' (at least if you talk about features that people actually use that are not just bloat). And what about quality exactly? Windows Phone is really well written. The fact that it runs smooth as button on low end dual core handsets, when Android needs beasty quad cores, just attests to that fact.

TCLN Ryster said,
... widely acknowledged that Windows Phone has one of the most, if not THE most, easy to use of interfaces.

i never get what should be difficult with ios or android. or lets say differently, why should the windows phone interface be any less difficult to use than on the other systems?

off topic but i find the windows phone animations so intrusive, always that flipping in, flipping out, that is currently a no-go for me to ever use this system (again). its so annoying over time. how can one like that`?

Because "one" likes different things to you? Also iOS and Android each have their own animations that I can't stand. I guess it's a matter of personal preference.

TCLN Ryster said,
Because "one" likes different things to you? Also iOS and Android each have their own animations that I can't stand. I guess it's a matter of personal preference.

at least in ios or android you can tweak the animations. in windows phone you are stuck with it.

TCLN Ryster said,
Global share might be 3%, but that's a very narrow viewpoint from which to examine the situation. In some countries, market share exceeds 10%.

While in others is close to zero.

typu said,

at least in ios or android you can tweak the animations. in windows phone you are stuck with it.


Most of the time you can can disable the live tile functionality in an app, which would disable the flipping animation as well. That works on Windows 8.1 as well. I don't know if all apps allow that though.

Not just Sky Go, but their whole suite of apps, including a more functional Sky News app on par with the iPad app. Also their Sky Remote Record app too.

I'm a Sky LoungeLab member, and I'm doing my best to try to get Sky to support the Windows platforms with apps with forum posts, survey feedback, etc. Hell, the Sky Go website isn't even officially Windows 8 compatible yet, it's a farce.

Edited by Ryster, May 24 2014, 9:16pm :

Wifi Analyzer, is one I'd like to have. Another, is move to SD. Sure, I can manually move things to SD with my PC manually, but it would have been nice to have an app that did it on the phone itself.

paulheu said,
Install a file manager then.. plenty in the store by now for WP 8.1

Yes,I know that, but I'm looking for one that lets me move more than one thing at a time, with the least effort. Any suggestions? Preferably free. :)

Target, Starbucks, Comcast, Amazon Instant Video, Sensorly, Amex, Discover Card.

Another interesting app on both iOS and Android Ibotta, for cashback on groceries.

I think the store needs a search optimization a lot of times I can't find an app with the full name but can with partial name.

anothercookie said,
Target, Starbucks, Comcast, Amazon Instant Video, Sensorly, Amex, Discover...

I think the store needs a search optimization a lot of times I can't find an app with the full name but can with partial name.


This! The search function is really broken. Also, why can't I always easily find the developer's website or contact info?

I'd like to see a SunTrust app.

Ok, Clash of Clans, Glide , an Instagram app that let's me upload saved videos, Candy Crush, and an Etrade app on par with IOS/Android.

Canadian businesses still prioritize BB over WP, so all of those apps.
Impark
TD Bank
Tim Horton's quickpay.

I was blown away that Co-op has an app.

I prefer HERE maps, especially the offline maps feature. But sure, there's a decent Google maps app in the store too if that's your thing.

I'd love if they bring back the PEOPLE HUB that was in WP8. In WP 8.1 they have third party integration which really sucks. I loved the previous version where you can chat from the MESSAGING HUB directly. They should just improved on it. Otherwise, I don't use many other apps.

azzou said,
....

Absolutely. This is the one thing that truly differentiated the platform.
This is one of those casualties of uniting the OSes.
I only hope it means the best phone features make in future desktop release.

While it was nice, I agree with the reasons for it's removal. Integration with social networks had to be "baked in" to the OS, which meant only the larger networks (facebook, twitter, etc) got a look in, which was unfair. Updating it meant an OS update, which was unmanageable. In the long run, it will be better having apps "plug in" to a core set of APIs instead, even if these offer more limited functionality for now.

Nike+ is a big one.

The media apps like HBOGo, MaxGo, and equivalent ones for Starz, Showtime, etc.

Time Warner's app for watching your cable TV remotely. (not even on Windows 8)

State Farm insurance.

The "Orbital" game (my favorite game on iOS, was on WP7 but disappeared)

Sirius/XM app

Pretty much most of the google apps ("official" ones anyway... lots of 3rd party clones and such, some of which are decent, but still).

If I got a Vudu app, and my bank app (unlikely), then really I would be set. I don't use Google services, and my work is going to become a full MS shop (SharePoint, Office 365, Email) this summer, so I have the rest of my needs largely set.

sorlag said,
WhatsApp ;-)

Really??? the app has just "temporarily" been removed, it will back in there anytime now.

Ely said,

Really??? the app has just "temporarily" been removed, it will back in there anytime now.


That's why he winked.

Ely said,

Really??? the app has just "temporarily" been removed, it will back in there anytime now.

That's what the say yes, I find the whole situation very ehhrm.. suspect. The Belfiore tweet about it being something with notifications in WP8 GDR when 8.1 is about to be upon us is sketchy at best and where are the mountains of users complaining about this? This situation is quickly starting to hurt WP in a huge way and will, especially in the growing markets they so desperately want to get into have a lot of people NOT buy a Windows Phone device for some time to come.

There is more going on here and I am getting a feeling it's not good.

Lack of games! Frankly I'm very sceptic if WP or Windows Store will ever compete with Android and iOS App stores. The amount of apps which these two platforms have and the new apps which they get on daily basis is baffling.

I also believe all comes down to games, almost every time I see people talk about missing apps they are talking about some game.

greenwizard88 said,
Starbucks, PNC, Discover, and Zune (or a usable xbox music app).
Well, at least alternate options are there for the Starbucks and Music apps. I agree they need to bring official versions up to bar, but third parties are doing a decent job trying to patch the gap.

Side-note, beautiful article, Andy. I really enjoyed the complementary imagery. I wish there were more of a list of what you feel really needs to come and whether or not alternates exist. Maybe a link to the Microsoft "Where's My App?" sort of app could be nice.

greenwizard88 said,
Starbucks, PNC, Discover, and Zune (or a usable xbox music app).

Regarding the xbox music application - only one feature I want, gapless playback. If Microsoft delivered that one single feature I could easily work through looking for third party replacements for my favourite applications and moving my email from iCloud to Outlook.com without any hesitation.