Back when Windows Phone 7 was released in 2010, I was an early adopter, picking up a HTC HD7 in October of that year. While the initial release wasn’t perfect it was certainly impressive, helped by the presence of some manufacturer-provided apps.
Over time, the quality of these apps was degraded slightly as new and better third party replacements became available. HTC did a good job with their Windows Phone apps, but they were better off sticking to handsets.
Years later, I’m the owner of a Nokia Lumia 920, powered by Windows Phone 8, and thrilled each time Nokia releases a new app. Although manufacturer apps aren’t available to owners of other devices (for instance, HTC users can’t use Nokia apps, and vice-versa), the Nokia apps tend to have a quality and authority that is missing from many of the poorer third party titles.
In fact, there is a collection of superb manufacturer apps for the Nokia-built phones – apps that you should check out if you’re using a Nokia Lumia and Windows Phone 8.
Benefits of Nokia Apps
There are clear advantages to using apps produced by a manufacturer, from low cost (you’ve already bought their phone) to trusting the company to release good quality software. This is certainly the case with Nokia, a pioneer in the app production business.
With Windows Phone, Nokia has a huge investment of money and talent and their apps reflect this. Phones such as the Nokia Lumia 920, 925/928 and 1020 represent some of the best smartphones available and all come with superb displays, audio reproduction and cameras (the latter being one of the strengths of the Nokia Windows Phones).
As a result, you’ll find a great selection of quality apps in the Nokia collection section of the Windows Phone Store app. These are apps that are either available exclusively to Nokia Lumia owners, or released with a different price point or feature set than can be found on other devices.
However, although there are a lot of non-Nokia apps in this manufacturer mini-store, what we’re looking at here are five superb apps produced by Nokia to enhance Windows Phone. The quintet below are available only to Nokia Lumia owners running Windows Phone 8, and are among the best available…
If you’re a fan of services such as Pandora or Last.fm, Nokia Music should be right up your street. Offering curated selections of music in many specific sub-genres, this free service streams music direct to your phone, enabling you to enjoy the type of tunes that you really like with a single tap.
While the app originally required some programming (by entering the name of a favourite artist) the process now relies on selections chosen by the Nokia Music team. In addition, you can scan the MP3s on your smartphone to update your music profile.
Note that this really is a curated music player, however. Don’t expect Nokia Music to be a replacement for the native player – it’s designed to help you find great new music!
The magic of near field communication is available in several Windows Phones, notably those produced by Nokia, and as a result you would be well advised to look at the Nokia NFC Writer app.
Available free, this app contains a number of preset commands for settings and apps that can be initiated simply by placing your Nokia Windows Phone on the programmed NFC tag. Nokia NFC Writer noticeably speeds the process of creating actions and writing them to NFC tags, and is the best such app for the platform.
For more on using Nokia NFC Writer and near field communication on Windows Phone, see How To Program NFC Tags & Automate Windows Phone 8.
Although browsing the web with the native Internet Explorer mobile app is usually fast enough, Nokia Xpress offers a useful speed increase by compressing web pages for download, which can also save you money on metered data connections.
Meanwhile this handy and flexible app also includes a tool to save web pages for reading later and the ability to compile your favourite online content into a sort of magazine.
Although not great as a browser (basic browsing is okay but running scripts isn’t supported) the Nokia Xpress app remains a useful app.
One of the things that Nokia has worked hard to do with its Windows Phone apps is to put the platform on a more even keel with the two market leaders, Android and iPhone. One way in which it has done this is to bring Spotify and other popular apps to Windows Phone. Another is by opening a bookstore.
While the Windows Store doesn’t stock books, Google Play and the Appstore do. Nokia Reading is a response to this, offering both a digital bookstore and the ability to read files stored in your SkyDrive cloud storage.
Compatibility for Nokia Reading may seem a little uncertain. Although the app listing above will say that it is only available for Windows Phone 7.5, I have had it on my Nokia Lumia 920 for some months, and it can be installed directly from the Nokia collection. Don’t worry about running the app – it works perfectly well!
Lost in a new town or city and looking for a coffee shop or museum? Visiting a business park and can’t quite find the company you’re visiting?
What you need is an augmented reality map that combines satellite imagery of the surrounding area with the sort of information found in Yellow pages, listing numbers, email addresses and websites – perhaps even photos – for the business you’re looking for.
Here City Lens might prove initially intimidating, but you should find that you have got it working within minutes. It certainly shouldn’t take too long for you to view an augmented reality representation of your immediate surroundings, scroll through them and follow up a few web links.
Perhaps the problem with Here City Lens is that it is remarkable eye candy – you might forget you ever wanted that coffee!
Apps Are a Good Reason to Buy Nokia Windows Phones!
Sure, you’ve got Samsung, LG and HTC building Windows Phones, and many of them are good devices. But do any of them have the prestige of a Nokia device?
While Nokia might have hit hard times in recent years their stock is still high in the UK, Ireland and Europe. As such, their Lumia handsets have proved quite popular over the past few months, regularly turning up in commercials and product placement.
Most importantly, however, these apps demonstrate that Windows Phone is a competent platform, if given complete manufacturer support. Here City Lens in particular is a surprisingly strong augmented reality experience, and perhaps the closest thing to a killer app for Windows Phone.
Nokia Lumia Windows Phones are great, and Nokia’s selection of in-house apps are excellent – so if you’re buying a Windows Phone device, make sure you opt for a Nokia.
We have a regularly updated list of the best Windows Phone apps and games but do you have any other suggestions for Nokia apps that you might have expected to see in this list? If so, let us know in the comments!