The HTC Titan’s official app store is Windows Marketplace. Just as heavily stylised as the rest of the Windows Phone operating system, it looks great and is very quick to navigate through.
If you don’t know exactly what you’re after, you may find it tricky to find what you want as discovery tools are lacking. Microsoft offers its “featured” selections and 17 categories, as well as “top”, “free” and “new” charts for each, but you’ll find a lot of scrolling is needed to dig up app gold.
Quite how easy and quick flicking through lists of apps is on Windows Phone makes this less of an ordeal than it is on a 2.x Android phone, though, and each listing shows you its star rating and how may users have voted.
In late August 2011, Microsoft revealed that the Marketplace had 30,000 apps filling its shelves. To put this into context, the Android Market has more than 250,000 and Apple’s App Store over 500,000. In a straight comparison, the Windows Phone app market is tiny, but it does offer some bonuses over Android.
The Windows Phone styling has been carried over into many third-party apps, making them feel very well-integrated with the phone. Running the official Twitter app on the Titan, we find it – and several other top picks – strike a good balance between assimilating and offering their own flavour.
Facebook and Twitter apps are flavoured with WP7 sauce
There’s also Xbox Live gaming to consider. This is the glitzy end of the Windows Phone game scene. Each Xbox Live certified game reaches a decent level of production and overall quality – not every one is a guaranteed hit, but you won’t find utter dross here. And you can earn Xbox Achievement Points by playing, just like an Xbox 360 game. There are just 83 of these titles at the time of writing – hardly a massive collection.
If you’re willing to leave the safety of the Xbox Live interface, Windows Marketplace offers a less-regulated vanilla “games” category. This is where most smaller developers fire out their wares into no-man’s land of the Windows app store. And as most significant developers are Live-certified, the hit rate here is pretty low.
Many will be satisfied by the limited glossy library of Windows Phone 7 apps and games, but if you’re an apps or gaming nut, it’s not a patch on what the iPhone offers. The exciting development culture just isn’t here, primarily because the Windows Phone userbase is still small. A game new to Windows Phone might be a year or two old on iPhone and Android. Angry Birds only came out in July 2011, for heaven’s sake.
Good stuff? Yes. Timely releases? Not normally, no. This may change as the platform spreads its roots – something that’s bound to happen once Nokia’s Windows Phones arrive – but who knows how long this will take.
HTC offers a selection of its own apps too, but these haven’t been updated much since the first wave of Windows Phone 7 phones arrived a year ago. HTC Watch offers movie trailers and downloads, for example, but they’re all hopelessly out of date.
The rest don’t suffer from this neglect as much, mind. HTC Hub packs-in the clock and weather visuals from HTC Sense that were unable to be integrated into the Titan itself (Microsoft doesn’t allow direct changing of the interface by 3rd party manufacturers except Nokia), Connected Media hooks-up with any media files shared over your Wi-Fi network and Photo Enhancer fiddles with your images. Inoffensive stuff, certainly, but nothing that should influence whether you buy the phone or not.