As a frequent traveler I rely heavily on my Windows Phone to manage my email and calendar accounts, organize my air, hotel and rental car itineraries, post Twitter entries, read the latest news, keep an eye on the weather, jot down ideas in OneNote, and do just about everything else while on the go. Having now been a Windows Phone user for over a year, I still find it is the best overall platform for both my work and personal needs. And with the imminent release of Windows Phone 8.1 and Microsoft’s recently-completed acquisition of Nokia’s handset business, the coming year promises many exciting developments to come.
Still, there are times I envy Android and iOS users who have access to applications not available for Windows Phone. Internet Explorer provides a solid mobile web experience for many sites, and, yes, there are third-party applications in the Windows Phone Store for nearly every use imaginable (with widely varying degrees of quality). But sometimes there is no substitute for a well-designed and mature first-party application. Here’s my wishlist of applications I would like to see in the coming months:
Hotels. Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott and Starwood all make applications for other platforms yet none have made it to Windows Phone. These are great for making and tracking reservations, setting room preferences, even transmitting requests to the concierge. Whichever brand makes it to Windows Phone first would certainly earn my loyalty.
Auto. It’s hard to believe that with neither Taxi Magic nor Uber on Windows Phone, I’m still calling yellow cabs to pick me up. When it comes to rentals, Avis and National have strong Windows Phone applications but the stripped-down release by Hertz is awful and has not been updated in over a year. Zipcar subscribers are out of luck. Parkmobile is available to pay for street parking in many cities, but not Pango which is used in my neighborhood.
Banking and Finance. Windows Phone has Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo, USAA, and ETrade. However none of my financial services providers – American Express, Citibank or Vanguard – have released Windows Phone applications to date. Both would be welcome time-savers when it comes to reviewing balances, paying bills, and making account transfers or mobile deposits, which currently require me to use a tablet or visit a local branch.
Dropbox. Microsoft’s OneDrive is terrific, but something keeps stopping me from making a clean break with Dropbox which I have used for years and works great for syncing files across platforms. Dropbox has long had a Windows 8.1 application, yet despite regular rumors there is no sign of a Windows Phone version. At some point I will tire of waiting and Dropbox will lose this customer completely.
Starbucks. Who hasn’t been on the road and longed for a familiar taste of home or a friendly place to log into a hotspot? And I always thought the idea of paying for my drink with a mobile gift card was cool. Yet there remains no official Starbucks application for locating a store or storing or recharging a Starbucks card. Nor has Square come to Windows Phone, leaving us without an easy way to make mobile payments at coffee shops or local vendors.
Passbook. Despite Apple’s Passbook so far meeting with just limited success, I always liked the idea of storing all my movie and concert tickets, store coupons, and loyalty cards in one easy-to-access mobile application. Windows Phone has Wallet, but has done little to expand its use beyond storing a credit card with which to make Windows Phone Store purchases. Building Wallet into a loyalty card and mobile payment system – perhaps integrating it with NFC radio functionality – would be a great organization tool for busy people on the run.
Home Automation. My wife’s iPhone can adjust my home’s thermostat, set the alarm system, and even remotely lock the doors. Yet there are no equivalent applications from Nest, Honeywell, 3M, or other major manufacturers providing this functionality to Windows Phone users. There are a few third-party applications available, but many of them are crude and unreliable at best. Until these applications become available, Windows Phone users will be largely left out of the home automation trend.
Windows Phone is the best overall platform for both my work and personal needs.
The good news is that the application gap is slowly closing, and within a year will likely be nonexistent. The movement toward universal applications will allow developers to easily port Windows 8.1 applications to Windows Phone, and the platform’s growth worldwide will incentivize developers to turn their attention to releasing Windows Phone versions. Still, the sooner companies realize that there is a small but growing Windows Phone base interested in their applications, the faster they will enjoy the loyalty of Windows Phone users which remains theirs to earn.