Looks like the Microsoft team is finally cracking the app space and working full time to make sure that there are some quality apps. While official developers may not be actually building the apps, the in-house team at Microsoft is pushing out some quality apps to quickly fill the void that exists. There is still no Instagram, but the YouTube and Foursquare apps got massive facelifts which now fit with the general guidelines of the Windows Phone.
YouTube for Windows Phone 8
First up, YouTube for Windows Phone 8 got a huge update. Previously the app used to just be a bookmark to the mobile website but is now a full feature rich app. The app has been completely redesigned to take advantage of WP8 features. The app has been built by Microsoft.
Users can now pin videos, playlists, channels, and even search queries to Start as Live Tiles for easier access. The tile flip to show either the latest video from your subscriptions or the most popular one. The playlist now has a filmstrip design, which makes for easier access.
One of the best additions to the app, is that now you can listen to the video even if the screen is locked. Taking advantage of Kids Corner, users can now pin YouTube there and limit content based on YouTube Safety Mode settings you can configure. The update is only for Windows Phone 8, but the team says that Windows Phone 7.5 should get the updated app in a few weeks.
When we briefly tried out the app on a Lumia 920, we loved the user interface and the fluidity of the app.
Foursquare for Windows Phone
The Foursquare Windows Phone app also got a major update. The Foursquare team worked closed with Microsoft and Nokia to get the best out of this app.
Version 3.0 brings a bunch of new features, such as the ability to pin people and venues to the Start Screen, get notifications on your lock screen, and check-in and share using NFC. One can also use voice to search, find and check-in to venues. The app will also fine tune its recommendations for things to do and try in your vicinity, based on your usage.
Trying out the Foursquare app on a Lumia 920, we found the app feature rich and quite bug free.
Viber Releases Desktop Version
While Skype has been the de facto choice for many as a video chatting tool, Viber fills that space in the mobile world. Viber has announced that it has crossed 200 million users across platforms. The company has also entered the desktop space by launching a version of its app for Windows and Mac.
The desktop version will enable users to access the application on their desktops, and use the app to make free calls to other Viber users. The app will sync contacts, messages and call-history with the user’s mobile device. One will also be able to transfer an ongoing call between between devices. The log in for the desktop version will be the user’s existing phone number. Users will also be able to send free texts, photo messages, group conversations with the desktop client.
The Android and iOS versions of the app also got updated to 3.0 and now brings VoIP over 3G and Wi-Fi networks, video message service, new stickers, improved photo experience as well as other performances.
The Android app has undergone a complete refresh and now incorporated the Android Holo design guidelines.
You can download the desktop version here.