The Month In Windows Mobile Apps: Fancy Browsing, VoIP Magic, And An App Store

You name it, we've got it: Sexy search tools! Google Voice! Upstart app stores! Maps, with stuff on them! Radio! Emulators, from the future! Fresh new browsers! It's all in a day's month's work for Windows Mobile.

HandMarket App Store: Handmark's mobile client for their ample Windows Mobile app market has left beta, and by all counts, it was ready to: Navigation is easy, there are a fair number of free apps, and they've snagged some big names, like Skyfire and EA games. Waiting for Microsoft's official store is for chumps, I say.

Skyfire: Speaking of SkyFire (unnecessary abbreviation: "SkyFi"), they've updated their start page with new content. This may not sound like much, but anyone who's used the browser can attest to the start page's usefulness as a launch pad. Previously it featured Twitter, Facebook and others; now, there's search history, Gmail—awesome—and Facebook album previews. Free.

Terrestrica: A crowd-sourced geotagging/tourism app, Terrestrica just got a fair bit more useful with the addition of direct, location-tagged Picasa uploading and Twitter integration. The user-contributed map data is still a little slim, though.

Google Maps Layers: If you like your map overlays a little more, shall we say, filled out, Google Maps has just updated their excellent WinMo app with support for user layers, just like the desktop version has. It's had Latitude support, too, for a while now, which is more than can be said for, ahem, some other mobile platforms.

iDialer: I appreciate when my mobile apps have a sense of humour, and I can't help but think iDialer does: At first glance, it looks like an iPhone dialer ripoff—the kind of pathetic app that makes Windows Mobile users cringe, and iPhone fanboys feel warm and smug inside. But there's a minor detail that you shouldn't overlook: it's a seamless, easy to setup Google Voice client, too. Ha. It's donationware, so be generous.

SPB Radio: A tidy little radio app from a company that makes some of the more polished Windows Mobile apps out there today, SPB radio has a healthy directory (around 1,500 streams) of radio content and a slick, finger-friendly interface. The stations are free—it's a shame the app isn't. $US10.

Windows Mobile 6.5 Emulator: It's a stretch for an app roundup, but everyone seems pretty curious about what Windows Mobile 6.5 is going to be like, so here you go: If you're not venturesome enough to install one of the many betas floating around to tubes onto your primary phone, have a go with Microsoft's free desktop emulator. You're in for a pleasant surprise, actually.

Office Communicator R2: Suits: Your preferred corporate communication app has been upgraded, and now you can log into your office's private branch exchange from anywhere, VPN-style. Neat, right! No? Just click next.

Bing: Microsoft has released a full, dedicated mobile app for its Bing search engine, which brings fuller phone integration, map searches and easier local listings compared to the regular mobile web interface. It's like all those Google search apps you've seen elsewhere, except decidedly Bingier.

Dorothy: WebKit has become the de facto mobile browser engine—it's the heart of the iPhone, Android and Symbian browsers—but Windows Mobile has been sadly neglected. Iris browser works, strictly speaking, but it's a little slow, and awkward to use (though development seems to have picked up as of late). Hopefully Dorothy, which is still in a closed private beta but looks fantastic, can fill the void.

This list is in no way definitive. If you've spotted a great app that hit the store this month, give us a heads up or let us know in the comments. Have a good rest of your weekend, everybody!


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