Monthly Archives: October 2012

How many apps do you really need for a phone?

I must have had this conversation a dozen times, and seen it from various trolling on the internet … the Windows Phone Store doesn’t have very many apps, and therefore iPhone / Android phones are better.

Honestly .. I can’t say I’ve noticed ..

The stores of course differ wildly in size, back in March 2011 the “app store” sizes for each of the major handsets was (apparently)

  • Apple – 330,000+
  • Android – 206,000+
  • Windows Phone 7 – 11,000+

So .. only 10k apps (I believe the number is a lot higher this year, especially with Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and Office 2013 all making their moves towards an “app” model) but the premise is the same .. there are a LOT more apps for iPhone / Android than there are for Windows, but does that actually make a difference to your phone?

I thought I would share what apps I have installed and use regularly, just to see how much I am “missing out” by not getting myself the latest shiny tech device from competing providers.

So here they come, in no particular order..


Take your pick, there are a whole bunch of them out there in the Windows Phone marketplace. There is the official twitter app plus the popular rowi and Seesmic variants.

For 99% of what I need I actually use the built-in “People Hub” which allows me to read the latest tweets and also post some of my own updates too. However it doesn’t include direct messaging, search or (un)follow capabilities so a dedicated app is still sometimes useful.

Facebook (only just!)

Same story here to be honest. The “People Hub” does pretty much all I need and I can’t say I have logged into the web interface of Facebook for almost 2 years. I still use a dedicated app (in my case the “official” Facebook app, published by Microsoft) but this is only to check direct messages and occasionally change the odd setting or check something .. but I only tend to fire it up once every 3-4 months.

Honestly I could survive with just the people hub which is built into the phone (as I can always use a computer for those hard-to-reach places if I am desperate) .. but there are dozens of Facebook apps in the marketplace anyway so I tend to have one to hand anyway.


Probably the first one I install to be honest. I used to use AccuWeather but now Microsoft have released their very own Weather app (which I have been using for the past few months). Its useful to have it pinned to the home page so I get live-tile updates (in case I can’t be bothered to look out of the window), but its nice to know if I should expect rain in London before leaving for work so I can grab a rain-coat or umbrella.

Adobe Reader

This is just for simple PDF support. I occasionally receive PDF files as email attachments and sometimes download them (usually terms and conditions) from websites so having some kind of PDF app is a must. Luckily the integration is solid and it launches “on demand” when a PDF file is opened.


Now I’m not even sure if you would need this in Windows Phone 8 due to the HTML5 and Native Flash support in the IE10 browser but on my WP7.5 device I still need an external app to view YouTube videos.

Again, the integration is seamless, if you click to view a video the app launches automatically then plays the video in the native phone video player.


Simple this one .. I have dual LED bulbs on the back of my phone (for the camera) but why not use it as a flashlight (or a “torch” as we say in the UK).

I live in a very dark part of the countryside so having a handy flashlight when I need to navigate my garden at night, or getting from the car to the house without tripping over things is really useful.

Tube Map

Ok .. I admit it .. the London Underground is a bloody rabbit warren. If you haven’t lived there for 30 years, don’t like jellied eels or don’t understand what “dog and bone” or “apples and pairs” means then you will need a tube map!

I specifically use one which allows me to have offline maps because (surprise!) there is no signal on underground trains 🙂


And .. that’s it ..

As I have a Nokia phone it comes with world leading Voice Turn-by-Turn SatNav courtesy of “Nokia Drive” with full (free!) offline maps worldwide and offline searching too, as well as a whole bunch of camera functions, public transport apps and streaming music.

All Windows Phones have Office built in which gives you excellent Word / Excel / PowerPoint / OneNote integration (the OneNote is especially awesome and I use it all the time!)

Social integration is baked in with LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter (which are the 3 social networks which I tend to use on a daily basis .. probably like most people in the SharePoint industry).

The “cloud storage” story is an interesting one as SkyDrive is baked in across the product (you can auto-upload your photos, as well as opening documents from the office apps and browse photos using both the People Hub and the Pictures Hub) but arguably you might get a bit of legs from installing a custom app (there is for example dedicated DropBox and SkyDrive apps in the marketplace)

Wireless HotSpot capability is built in so I can use my phone as a roaming wireless router for my laptop / tablet of choice (along with the usually Bluetooth / hands free functions).

And the email client supports a whole range of email accounts from Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo through to Exchange and Nokia Mail .. or even just a custom POP / IMAP email account.

The only thing that really stands out is more the “one off” apps that crop up from time to time. You are watching TV and they say there is a companion app .. or one for online banking .. or an app which goes with your latest cook book .. these all seem to be Android and iPhone .. but I survived without having apps for absolutely everything so I think I’ll continue to survive with a Windows Phone.

What is your story?? Any apps which you really can’t live without? (that you can’t find in the Windows Phone marketplace?)

That is one smashed phone ..

Well, it was bound to happen eventually as I use my smartphones every single day and this is the first one I’ve managed to spectacularly break after about 6 years of using them.

I went and dropped my Nokia Lumia 800 from about 4 feet onto a wooden floor and the screen (well .. the gorilla glass covering it) has smashed and now spiderweb cracks covers roughly 1/4 of the screen.

Ironically this only happened when I took the rubber “condom” (protective covering which goes over the phone) off because I thought it might be interfering with my signal (it wasn’t!). The normal covering on this device is quite shiny and doesn’t give you much traction, which led to the phone slipping out of my hand.

Quite impressive is that the touchscreen still works fine, in fact apart from making it difficult to read in a few places it hasn’t really affected the functional at all.. There is one thing though which is that the proximity sensor (which detects when you are holding the phone to your ear and turns the screen off during calls) can’t see through the cracks at the top of the phone. This means that during a call the screen won’t activate and therefore I can’t do trivial tasks like .. hang up, or activate the speaker, or use the keypad!

Luckily I’ve found a local repair shop who will do a replacement screen and glass for £100 with a 24 hour turnaround, so I am dropping it off tomorrow and hopefully will have it back Friday.

For those of you who want to laugh at my clumsiness, a photo of my phone is below 🙂

Yep .. that’s a smashed screen alright!

Possibly the best order confirmation email in the world ..

I recently managed to smash in the screen on my old Nokia Lumia 800 (blog post pending on that little accident!) so had to resort to my trusty old HTC HD2 (the phone that runs anything!).

Unfortunately it was still network locked to my old T-Mobile account. I needed this phone for work and cannot survive for long without txt / phone / 3G capabilities so I went online and got myself an unlock code from The second best part was I got a working unlock code in under 24 hours by email which worked first time.

The best bit was their order confirmation email (below) .. which was truly awesome! Global Unlock .. you’re doing it right!

Email Received Below

To Our Finest Customer
Thanks for the details on your unlocking order.! As you are reading this, a high-priority siren
alerted all Global Unlock personnel to attend to your order immediately. Our dedicated team of
programmers immediately put on their lab coats and rushed to our state-of-the-art code-unlocking
laboratory. We use only the finest unlocking software – software with algorithms developed by
Nobel Prize-winning mathematicians.

Fuelled by giant cups of black coffee, our programmers are working hard so you can sit back and relax knowing your code will arrive within the promised turnaround time. In case you would like to

check your order status, our web design team has made a webpage just for your order because
that is how special you are to us. Check Order Status (note link removed in this blog post!)

As soon as your code is ready, our quality control team will check every single character not twice,

but three times to make sure that the code works flawlessly. Our customer service specialist will
say some words of goodwill before sending a personalized thank you email to you with your code
in it. The entire Global Unlock team will then hold a big celebration in your honor as our “Best Global Unlock Customer Ever.” A solid gold plaque with your name on it is being ordered as we speak to commemorate this occasion.

We hope you enjoyed ordering from Global Unlock. Your code is on its way. For additional support,

our trusty Customer Support representatives are ready to help 7 days a week, sometimes when they
cannot sleep they come online to check customer emails just to give our favourite customer the best
service they deserve.

The whole team is a little exhausted from this occasion, if you appreciate the service, tell a friend,

Facebook (, Twitter ( or just scream outside your window as long as you can “I love Global Unlock” Now back to waiting by the phone for any friends or family members you send out way to service them as our second favourite customer as you of course 🙂


The Global Unlock Support Team.