Whilst some might say that the Windows Phone platform doesn’t need this type of app as the Marketplace isn’t exactly overflowing with titles, but the truth is that while its app ecosystem might be much smaller than that of iOS or Android, it’s growing at a fair pace.
AppFlow is designed to make browsing for apps a more visual and pleasant experience than merely trudging your way through the Marketplace.
It opens on its Featured tab, which shows a single recommended app above links for three categories: New & Impressive, Best Mango Apps and Highest Rated apps. The latter two are pretty self explanatory, while the first is a list of newly released apps that are gathering very good ratings. Tapping on any of these links will take you to a scrollable list that shows a short summary of each app along with its price and some screenshots in thumbnail form. You can also tap on the right hand side of the screen to view a simplified list with just the name and icon for each app.
Flick across the tabs at the top of the screen and you’ll find one for Discovery. Using this you can search for an app you already like to find suggestions for other similar apps that you might also want to take a look at.
Similarly, there are tabs for Lists and Categories. The former lets you browse pre-made lists of apps covering stuff like Top Indie Games, Staff Picks, Essentials and more. The Categories tab, on the other hand, has groups of apps divided by genre such as Music and Video, Tools and Productivity, and Entertainment.
AppFlow does provide a faster and more intuitive way to browse for new apps and its suggestions are, on the whole, pretty good. However, there are times when it shows apps that are just a variation of the core app. For example, if you choose the Turn by Turn navigation app it’ll simply suggest different regional variations of the app, which isn’t very useful. Also, some of the lists can be a bit slow to populate as it takes the app a while to download the relevant information from the Marketplace.
AppFlow offers a slicker, more intuitive way to browse through what’s on offer in the Windows Phone Marketplace and also makes it quicker to find better quality apps. However, it’s suggestion engine isn’t always as useful as it could be and its list of apps can be slow to load.