Is the app-gap between Windows Phone versus iTunes and Google Play really that wide?
Windows Phone has seen its portfolio of applications grow rapidly, especially since the launch of Windows Phone 8. Still, the arguments from many, fans of Windows Phone and non-fans alike, is that the app catalog still needs more.
Those that reside in the Android realm of things will point out that Windows Phone’s claims of having a number of the same popular apps are false. But are they? We decided to take a look at the top paid and top free apps in each of the three platforms. For purposes of actually completing this article in this decade we did not delve into any sub-categories, we just picked the “top free” or “top paid” from the front page of each app portal.
Some things to consider, if you look at the top applications found in Google Play, a large number are applications that are not germane to iOS or Windows Phone by the very virtue that the two latter operating systems do not have the ability to use widgets or ROM managers. When that factor is taken into consideration, the first or second party application choices reveal quite a bit between the three platforms.
The Nokia Lumia 520 brings remarkable functionality at an extremely low price for a smartphone
Then there are applications that are different but perform the same function, like custom camera applications. One example is the Camera+ app for the iPhone. The developer, tap tap tap, does not make applications for anything but the iPhone. However, there are similar applications to be found for Android and Windows Phone, such as ProShot for the latter, and Camera ZOOM FX for the former.
Another factor to consider is the functionality of the applications that are available across all platforms. Skype is available across iOS, Android and Windows Phone, but the Windows Phone app is lacking in functionality, like video messaging. There are differences in functionality between other first-party apps too, like Twitter. Twitter is the only major social network to build an app for Windows Phone (Facebook is built by Microsoft, Google+ does not have one and LinkedIn is business). Even then, the app is not the same across the three platforms.
We are not going to develop a complicated formula to make these comparisons. Based on how the list of popular applications are arranged at the time of this writing, we will simply note applications that are common across the platforms and then cite the stand-out apps that each can boast about. We did not dig overly deep into each well of apps either, only the top 50 to 100 overall.
With that, let us turn the page and look at the top free applications to be found on Windows Phone, Android and iOS.
9. ihatesmartphone (unregistered)
I more prefer using open system just like Android because...
I LIKE CUSTOMIZATION!!
40. PhoneAddiction (Posts: 77; Member since: 07 Nov 2012)
Is there a Phonearena app for Android, Apple or Windows? Lol
43. ihatesmartphone (unregistered)
I don't think so..
46. windork (Posts: 16; Member since: 24 May 2013)
yes, all three, although having spent some time on the windows, it is basicly 3 months behind and looks just like the site itself
48. KINGJUAN27 (Posts: 195; Member since: 02 Jul 2012)
Facebook is arrogant for not rolling out a native Facebook app and also Instagram to Windows Phone! Come on Zuck! WP is really growing and very promising, it's already the 3rd major OS in the market! Why not reconsider releasing FB and Instagram to WP?! :/
53. affandi (Posts: 84; Member since: 25 Jan 2013)
I read somewhere that Windows Phone has 2 % of the market or something, so "the 3rd major OS" sounds better than it really is.
2. wendygarett (unregistered)
I don't get why apps is so important to someone, especially gaming apps, all completely useless...
most of the Google play apps are launcher, and here goes customisation excuses from fandroid... On ios? Please, a lot of them 0 download record...
I personally found that only social network and web browsing apps are useful in the smartphone... Because that what smartphone are for.. optimise those apps to every platform and you be the winners, and I see only whatsapp done that, big kudos to whatsapp...
3. wendygarett (unregistered)
Added that facebook apps is the worst app I have ever experienced, it works so well on ios, but on android? My lord, it gets every month update, yet every month sucks, I compare Facebook apps on nexus 4 and bb z10 in the carrier store and it so ashamed that even bb10 work more responsive than android even that bb10 apps still on infants stage, I'm not sure about wp, but I know that fb on wp miss a lot of info... Because the apps is by ms not fb themselves...
15. Reluctant_Human (Posts: 847; Member since: 28 Jun 2012)
Just because they may not be important to you doesn't mean they aren't important. The only appeal that IOS ever had for me was the games and game center. Games are HUGE market and appeal for people. The biggest reason so many people want bigger and better phones/specs is the ability to play great high end games.
16. jibraihimi (Posts: 678; Member since: 29 Nov 2011)
OMG...... First time I'm seeing some sensible comment from Wendy, it's really very surprising....... Both of your comments make lots of sense...... So, first time I'm pressing that green button fir you....... :)
20. EXkurogane (Posts: 863; Member since: 07 Mar 2013)
Whether i end up using windows phone or blackberry i dont think there will be an app that i want but not available. Im not that demanding, and i dont even use instagram and all sorts of services (netflix? Pandora? Vine? I dont even know what they are if i dont read tech sites) other than FB and Twitter.
4. wafflemuncherr (Posts: 12; Member since: 29 May 2013)
I'm ready to switch out of iOS but I'm always going back and forth between Android or WP. In a way I'm lucky to have to wait till November so I can see what each one is gonna bring to the table.. and to save up some cash.
18. alterecho (Posts: 1073; Member since: 23 Feb 2012)
I believe MS WP8 team is sleeping with earmuffs on. Also they have a tendancy of abandoning their users, even their most faithful ones.
26. Dorothy69 (banned) (Posts: 498; Member since: 21 May 2013)
Couldn't have put it better myself. I was an avid Windows Mobile user (back in the day) but, finally gave up on them. Hate the tiny screen on the iPhone even if it did grow .03 inches last year and, overall, hate the restrictive nature of iOS.
Android allows me to do everything I want without having to "jailbreak" the bloody device, for example (some of my favorites):
1. TubeMate (download YouTube content directly to my phone).
2. tTorrent Pro (search and download torrents from around the World, making my phone truly "Global").
3. Groove IP (VOIP using GVoice)
4. Astro (File Manager with integrated Dropbox).
5. Dropbox (if you don't know what this is then, you might as well be using a flip phone).
6. MDScan (document scanner using main camera, scan can be exported as PDF or Image - GREAT tool).
7. Countless premium games that I've purchased for either 99¢ or 10¢: GTA III, Vice City and Rio; Samurai II Vengeance THD; Asphalt 6 & 7; Need For Speed (Most Wanted); The Dark Knight Rises; Avengers Initiative; etc (too many - 99¢ or less)
8. Talking Pierre (my favorite pranking app, you can literally have Pierre curse someone out by name)
And, that's only about half of what I've got on my lovely Note 2; I haven't even touched on the S-Pen and S-Note!!!
Yeah, so I'd agree with you: MS WP8 is sleeping with earmuffs on (and blinders, too).
44. VZWuser76 (Posts: 1303; Member since: 04 Mar 2010)
The saddest part is the Skype app. MS owns Skype, and they have the worst app of the three? Seriously, they should have the best of the three.
5. wando77 (Posts: 269; Member since: 23 Aug 2012)
Hmmmmm.... sounds like somebody got a backhander from Microsoft. Why does an app comparison article need adverts for the 'hardware strengths' on each page?
12. Maxwell.R (Posts: 166; Member since: 20 Sep 2012)
We make it pretty clear when it's an advertisement. I was looking at the assortments of apps that I use most when I'm switching between iOS, Android and WP and with exception of Google+ I have not run into so many issues. Everyone's mileage may vary, and I'm not saying there are no legitmate gripes against WP, but when you look at the most commonly used apps, I don't know that makes the best argument anymore.
27. Dorothy69 (banned) (Posts: 498; Member since: 21 May 2013)
I disagree, the "most commonly used apps" would be apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Skype, etc; they are all Social Media apps and an extension of said Social Media services, I wouldn't necessarily consider them apps that add a considerable amount of varying functionality to any platform whether it's Android, iOS or Windows Mobile (YES, I said Windows "Mobile")!!
This did come across as some sort of defensive ploy for Microsoft.
And, BTW, I don't use most of the above (FB, Twit', Insta'); I do use Skype from time to time.
28. Maxwell.R (Posts: 166; Member since: 20 Sep 2012)
We all have a set of niche apps that we like and are not available elsewhere. The common denominators for the majority of users of smartphones are social, email, and pictures. Since all smartphones perform those tasks differently, the apps they use to do that are fairly relevant.
Your point is well taken however.
31. Dorothy69 (banned) (Posts: 498; Member since: 21 May 2013)
I wish I could say that I could give Microsoft another try but I can do too much now on Android that, for the foreseeable future, I would not be able to do on Windows Mobile. And, for what I do, iOS is out of the question.
I understand that the average user just uses their smartphone for voice calls, email and Social Media, hence, I am not the average user nor am I willing to devolve.
Your point is also well taken but, I still think Microsoft has much progress to make; Dear God, they don't even support Skype Video calling (and, they own Skype)!
38. -box- (Posts: 3749; Member since: 04 Jan 2012)
They DO support Skype video CALLING, just not video MESSAGING (for now). That said, you can send video messages through the regular messaging method, as well as email.
What particular things do you do on android you feel wouldn't be able to be done on Windows PHONE? I'm genuinely curious since I switched from android to WP (and at the time, it was only on 7.5) and haven't looked back.
29. zibbyzib2000 (Posts: 157; Member since: 18 Nov 2010)
I came here to read an article about an app-gap between the 3 major mobile operating systems. I expected some graphs or statistics on how many apps are currently available for each platform, and instead I get a 4 page article about why Windows phone is better.
30. Maxwell.R (Posts: 166; Member since: 20 Sep 2012)
Hardly, I was trying to convey that the argument of "there aren't any apps" holds less weight. 10 of the top 15 paid apps in Google Play are apps that only apply to Android. 9 of the top free 15 apps are social, all of which (except Facebook Messenger, which is baked into WP) are also available for WP (and iOS of course). I probably could have emphasized it better in the summary that a lot of underlying issues that WP is facing traction-wise is that user experience and notifications are more of an issue than apps alone.
6. Adithya7184 (Posts: 311; Member since: 05 Mar 2011)
"Love it or hate it, Office is still the standard for document and spreadsheet productivity."......
i think you haven't seen office-suite pro yet....
7. Adithya7184 (Posts: 311; Member since: 05 Mar 2011)
can you please compare office suite pro with MS office 365
10. Maxwell.R (Posts: 166; Member since: 20 Sep 2012)
There's nothing to compare. OfficeSuite Pro handles Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and PDF documents. Office 365 provides up-to-date Office for 5 computers, plus 5 mobile devices, Word, Excel, PP, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, Access, Office on Demand, additional 20GB SkyDrive, and 60 Skype minutes each month.
8. Maxwell.R (Posts: 166; Member since: 20 Sep 2012)
I think you haven't seen the full suite that is Office 2013. When paired with Office on Demand it's a heck of a deal. I didn't even mention OneNote. ;-)
17. Adithya7184 (Posts: 311; Member since: 05 Mar 2011)
office 365 may be a better one...but $99 per year is bit too costly...no one will use office 365 only to take notes...we have lots of other apps to take notes..
spending $15 for lifetime is far better than spending $99 per year
21. Maxwell.R (Posts: 166; Member since: 20 Sep 2012)
When you consider that it covers installation on 5 computers and use on up to five mobile devices, that works out to $9.95 per year per device if you max it out. A very good deal indeed.
35. del_x (Posts: 3; Member since: 18 Jun 2013)
Adithya7184 You have contradicted your own comment by stating that Office 365 is better apart for the Price, but why are we even speaking about O365 when Windows Phone has Office baked in the OS?
11. ianbbaa (Posts: 196; Member since: 20 Mar 2013)
office suite pro is one of the worse office programs for android...my personal comparison, with various test XSLX files, created in MS office, is 5,5MB big, has some formating and functions between sheets....POLARIS office opens those files quickest, with 0 problems..just some layout issues for printing when you save and reopen the document in MS office - needs little tweak to fit to page.
As for the article, we do not need tons of apps, we need a few good ones...even better, we need platform that is complete and works out of the box - and do not relly on any of market apps.
13. Timmehor (Posts: 599; Member since: 09 Mar 2013)
It's wide and is the only thing Windows Phone really lacks in, 2nd they lack kind of in is robust customization, which I hope is coming to 8.1.
37. jlp34876 (Posts: 79; Member since: 02 Dec 2012)
Wp is the sweet spot of the 3 OS's. If you want custumization buy an android and if you want a simple smartphone that works buy an iphone. While Wp, you can custumize it more personally by its live tiles.
47. Timmehor (Posts: 599; Member since: 09 Mar 2013)
So true, bit it does need more customisation features! I yearn for them!
14. jibraihimi (Posts: 678; Member since: 29 Nov 2011)
Let's wait till the year end to see the evolution of WP os and what new features it brings to the board.........
22. cameogt (Posts: 88; Member since: 18 Oct 2012)
MS is too slow developing the windowsphone.
23. yousef8824 (Posts: 36; Member since: 28 Jul 2012)
i just want pulse and opera mobile on wp8 and i will switch
25. jromy (Posts: 113; Member since: 26 Feb 2013)
So...not taking into consideration "Android only" apps kinda defeats the purpose of a comparison doesn't it? And no, if the app is free on android and iOS but not on WP it is NOT an individual choice. there is simply no equivalent app, unless it offers the same functionality and same price.
39. -box- (Posts: 3749; Member since: 04 Jan 2012)
Many paid apps in WP have a "trial" version that gives you the app for free, but with limited functionality. Android does similar, but also has ad-supported freebies, which hog your data and processing power.
42. icyrock1 (Posts: 303; Member since: 25 Mar 2013)
Thing is android (and iOS) have the official free versions of the apps that third parties are charging for.
32. microsoftnokiawin (Posts: 913; Member since: 30 Mar 2012)
very well written Maxwell although i have to say custom keyboards are a feature that i highly like in my current cool but outdated N9 and that i think should be offered in windows phone and IOS other than that i really like your article :)
34. del_x (Posts: 3; Member since: 18 Jun 2013)
Very well written article, the argument about apps is truly null n void.
36. speckledapple (Posts: 878; Member since: 29 Sep 2011)
Well thought out piece and I appreciate the further explanations to others on the forum. My next phone purchase is surely considering WP but with my enjoyment of the Galaxy Note 2, I hope Microsoft produces a device with that kind of integration and effectiveness.
41. icyrock1 (Posts: 303; Member since: 25 Mar 2013)
"As it happens, since the fully featured Instance is a paid app it is a tenuous comparison to its iOS and Android counterparts which are free, but the overall solution is present, so it really becomes an individual choice."
So... You're comparing a FREE first party app to a paid, third party app?
Hardly what the average user would do. They'd look for a free alternative or an official app.
45. Maxwell.R (Posts: 166; Member since: 20 Sep 2012)
There is a free version of Instance that is ad supported, but people make these types of decisions every day. The choices remain, look for free alternative, look for official app, or pay. There are plenty of apps that people pay for because the simply like the app or want to support the developer.
49. icyrock1 (Posts: 303; Member since: 25 Mar 2013)
I disagree with the idea that people like to pay for apps when given the choice (The article tries to equate a paid app to a free app, which the average user would certainly NOT do).
I know a lot more people who have never spent a cent on apps than those who have, and comparing the two is rather deceitful.
50. Maxwell.R (Posts: 166; Member since: 20 Sep 2012)
You make a valid point, but to make my point, Twitter makes free apps for iOS, Android and WP, yet the top Twitter client for Android was Falcon Pro until the token limits went into effect. To this day, Falcon Pro users have paid to use that app despite free, first-party alternatives being available. It is really a fundamental economic principle as to what people do to use their limited resources with. Paid apps would not be successful if everyone just said, "meh, I want free...ads are okay." The reality says otherwise.
51. GrmanR (Posts: 41; Member since: 09 Apr 2013)
Are there emulators on WP8? I play a lot of N64 and SNES, is there that on WP?
54. khuongn (Posts: 1; Member since: 26 Jun 2013)
Yes, but I think you have to pay for N64 emulator though. There's vNESLight which is a free NES emulator. I'm not sure about other emulators.
52. toondewachter (Posts: 52; Member since: 24 Jan 2012)
It's not about the big apps. They're pretty much on each platform. It's the smaller, more local apps where the difference shows. Like an app for mobile banking... My bank created the app for iPhone first, then for Android. Windows Phone is probably never going to get the app. And that's the way it goes when local businesses develop apps.
Apps do matter. I don't understand why iPhone apps are mostly developed first instead of Android. But that is what makes the iPhone an attractive phone. iOS is not that impressive, but its app store is.