My biggest complaint about WP8? Yep, it's the app store

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from  Kansas City, MO
| February 4, 2014

Up until the beginning of last month, I had never actually owned my own Windows Phone 8 device. I had never even though about touching a Windows Phone 7 device before that. My last experience with a smartphone using a Microsoft OS was the Palm Treo Pro, running on their old platform, Windows Mobile. Up until the point where I actually owned my own Windows Phone 8 device, I had based all of my opinions off of review videos, my own tinkering of display models, and spec sheets. Whenever I mentioned Windows Phone 8, there was always a thin veil over my eyes that didn't allow me to truly see what the platform was like. 

There is still something very taboo about Windows Phone 8. Most people aren't going to tell you to get one over Android or iOS devices. If you want a Windows Phone 8 device, you're probably going to have to fight pretty hard to get people to support you on your decision. Even retail associates at the store will likely do whatever they can to try and persuade you away from using Windows Phone 8 (they did to me), which isn't exactly a bad thing - they're going to do whatever they can to avoid any possible returns or exchanges, and they assume that people who want Windows Phone 8 don't know a whole lot about it. If nothing else, they at least make sure to warn anybody about to purchase a Windows Phone 8 device that the amount of applications you have to choose from isn't even comparable to the amount you have to choose from Android or iOS. For a lot of people, that's all they need to hear. What is the point of having a smartphone if you don't have a great selection of applications? After all, that's what smartphones are most well-known for.

I'm sure the phrase "There's an app for that!" probably rings a bell for you. 

The phrase that was famously coined by Apple might hold true for iOS and Android as well at this point, but you'll find that the situation doesn't have the same value for Windows Phone 8. In fact, more than likely there's not an app for that, or if there is, it's not an official one. What's more, even if there is an official app, it's probably shoddy at best.

If you're curious about Windows Phone 8, you've probably conducted a few searches of your own on the platform to figure out whether it's the platform for you or not. Out of your searches, you've probably come across the issue that Windows Phone 8 is lacking in quality (and official) applications. As I've found out, for the most part it's true. That's not to say that Windows Phone 8 doesn't have plenty of alternatives, as there are several third-party apps to choose from (some of them even better than official versions I've seen on Android or iOS; likewise, some of them not). But even if WP8 is lucky enough to have an official application for something, it's evident that some developers just don't care about Windows Phone 8. It's like they slapped something together last minute just to make it seem like they cared or were trying to expand. I'm not a big fan of visiting the app store on Windows Phone 8 anymore. I'm not excited to check out new apps, official or not. I've just come to expect the worst.

I don't have a lot of applications on my phones these days, but the few that I use are some of the most popular on the market across the board. Facebook, Spotify and Netflix are probably my three top applications that use, and on Windows Phone 8 the only decent one out of the bunch is Netflix. As for Facebook and Spotify, I guess I can't say that I deserve better performance out of them, but I certainly expected better. Spotify works great on every other device I have owned and used it on, but on Windows Phone 8 the interface is laggy and sometimes inoperable. Spotify is in desperate need of love and care. It might look the part with it's Modern UI design, but it certainly doesn't play the part you would expect an official application to play. As for Facebook, I guess I just figured that one of the oldest and most popular social networks in the world would have been a priority no matter what platform its on. People Hub is a nice alternative and is certainly nice for an integrated version of Facebook, but I myself prefer a dedicated application; much like Spotify, Facebook is a laggy and sometimes inoperable application on Windows Phone 8. It's really rather disappointing.

I do find myself loving the overall look and feel of Windows Phone 8, that much I can say about the platform. It's a shame that my experience with applications for the platform are haphazard at best most of the time. It's also a shame that Windows Phone 8 users don't really have rhyme or reason to be hyped for mainstream applications most of the time. It's like getting your hopes up to win the lottery; it could happen, but more than likely it won't. And even if it is, it's best not to get excited about it until you've actually seen how the application works. Just because an application will be in the store doesn't mean that the application will perform well on Windows Phone 8. The fact that Windows Phone 8 users have to worry whether A.) an application will even be developed for Windows Phone 8 or B.) if said application will actually work well really just puts a damper on the whole app experience aspect of Windows Phone 8 altogether. Since apps are, for the most part, the most important aspect of smartphones for people, I've come to the realization that the app store probably is the reason that Windows Phone 8 is doing so poorly at the present moment. I can't suggest this OS for people where the amount and quality of applications is their most important "must have". 

In the end, I've found that the app store really isn't that great. Fortunately, the camera really is that good, and like my co-editor Evan is also experiencing right now, sometimes it's not all about the amount of quality apps in the app store. I'm at a point in my life where apps still matter, but not as much as needing a camera that can quickly and effectively capture an active on-the-go child. I generally always have my phone handy, so my phone's camera is probably the best way to capture these unpredictable moments - something that Windows Phone still provides with their physical camera key and dedication to decent smartphone cameras. So if you need a smartphone where the camera is the shining feature, a Nokia Lumia is your best bet right now. Do you need a smartphone with a huge selection of apps that look good and run well? I'm afraid that for the time being, I'm going to have to say that Windows Phone 8 is probably not going to be your cup of tea.

Perhaps sometime in the near future, though, I will be able to redirect you back this way to a smartphone that has both a great app selection and a great camera. That's my hope, anyway. 

Images via WMPowerUser, Engadget

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