While Microsoft now runs a tight ship and doesn’t allow much leeway in regards to customization, vendors still have a few areas they can take advantage of to help its devices stand out from the crowd. Hardware and design are by far the most visible customization options, but the Windows Phone 7 platform also allows each phone manufacturer (OEM) to come out with its own Marketplace beyond the usual OS version. Within this Marketplace, each OEM can throw in whatever exclusive apps it wants to, thus providing extra value when you purchase these devices.
Not only has LG chosen to take full advantage of this opportunity by launching the “LG Apps Store”, it continues to utilize it and add fresh content. When I began reviewing the Quantum, only 7 apps were available. I downloaded a couple cool apps but otherwise was rather unimpressed. However, over the last two weeks 6 more apps have been added in, including one called Voice to Text, which does exactly what it sounds like, and is an app so important it should have been added into the default OS itself.
LG also promised that they will be giving away about $30 worth app packages every 60 days. A bunch of paid apps is made available for free for 60 days. As soon as the new package arrives, the old one goes away. But if you installed it, the app stays on your phone.
This is great news for anyone considering an LG WP7 purchase, because we know the company is taking the LG Apps Store seriously and will continue to load in fresh content. Adding fresh content into any smartphone is what helps us fall in love with it again and again. Stale devices get tossed aside, but phones like the Quantum and Optimus 7 won’t be obsolete for quite some time.
Here are some exclusive apps that are now completely free and can only be used on the LG Quantum and LG Optimus 7:
Voice to Text
Mentioned earlier, this is my favorite app available in the store and could likely be the most important in regards to driver safety. Far too many people are texting and driving at the same time, becoming a potentially fatal distraction. Voice to Text aims to limit this distraction by introducing a speech-to-text app for the Windows Phone OS. Using Voice to Text, all you need to do is speak and the app will transcribe what you said into a text message, tweet, email or even a memo, depending on what you initially choose. Once you approve the transcribed message, VTT will copy and paste that message to whatever destination you want, and you’re on your way to having a true hands-free experience with your phone.
Voice to Text should be available on every phone, not just LG WP7 phones. The technology is there in full force for smartphones, but feature and messaging phones are still usually left without these kinds of options. We should all make a statement in supporting speech-to-text technology so phone companies understand the kind of demand there is for this kind of service.
Panorama Shot allows you to take your phone camera and stitch together several images spanned over a 180-degree angle. I’ll need to add a disclaimer to this one: the capability of phones to do a panoramic-style still image is not new. Far from it, in fact. But what IS exclusive about this app is the fact that it isn’t available for WP7 devices, since Microsoft has restricted access to camera API, and only LG for now seems to be able to get around those restrictions. Fortunately this app can be accessed directly from your camera menu, so when you go into the camera and press the settings menu button, Panorama Shot is one of the first options available.
Look n Type
While texting while driving is incredibly hazardous, so too can texting while walking be dangerous. Ever hear the story about the girl who fell down a manhole while texting? This app will help reduce those kinds of incidents, and may even prevent you from randomly bumping into people because you’re not looking where you’re going.
The Look n Type app gives you access to the phone’s camera while overlaying that image with a full-sized keyboard. As you type, the text shows up in yellow on the actual camera imagery itself. Once done typing, you can choose whether you want to email, SMS or Tweet whatever you just wrote. So this way you are fully protected from falling or bumping into something (or someone) when you’re fully in “the zone”. Again, another very clever app that should be available for more phones, and hopefully will be over the next couple years.
Have you ever wanted to hook your phone’s multimedia collection up to your TV, computer, Xbox 360 or stereo? Play To helps make that happen on the Quantum and Optimus 7. As long as each device is connected to the same WiFi network, and has DLNA support, you’ll be able to wireless stream any of your phone’s music, videos and pictures. On my Windows 7 PC, all I had to do was go into Windows Media Player’s Stream menu and tell it to allow remote control, and the Quantum picked up my PC within 3 seconds. Once connected, I chose to begin playing my preloaded playlist and sure enough, it started streaming through Windows Media Player with no problem; I got the same results from the slideshow I set up. In the Play To app, after choosing pictures I was prompted to select which pictures I wanted in my slideshow. Press the sync button, and it was playing on my PC.
The same is true for the DLNA enabled TVs. I don’t have one, but I have a friend who works at an electronics retailer, and he let me try out PlayTo there. All I needed to do – was connect to to their open Wi-Fi network and find DLNA enabled TV sets which are connected to that network too. Then I just selected one of the TV sets I wanted to stream a movie to, tapped on it – and the movie started playing. I even managed to accidentally get an episode of ‘The Living dead” streamed on a TV set a floor below, to the surprise and confusion of the salesman demoing it to the customer.
This app is, for lack of a better term, Photoshop on your WP7 device. Take either a new picture or an already existing one, put it through the Photo Stylist, and you can change the colors, brightness, contrast, you can make it look vintage, not to mention several other effects available for your tweaking satisfaction. Once you’re done, just hit save at the bottom and you’ll be able to keep your brand new creation!
An all-in-one app that combines several different types of applications into one convenient hub. Tool Box combines a flashlight, world clock, unit converter, level, and date calculator and puts it in one simple menu for you to access. Not much to it, but it’s nice to have this: it turns an app into a folder of sorts, and allows extra room on the main screen to be used for other apps and tasks. After all, it gets frustrating trying to look through a full range of apps to find the one you want.
Another exclusive app is ScanSearch, an Augmented Reality app. This means you can use the camera app on the phone and couple it with the compass and GPS to find local businesses and other points of interest around you, just by pointing your camera in the direction of that particular point of interest. In the viewfinder you’ll see whatever points are close and in that same direction, and will give you additional information to see if you really want to go that particular point. As of this writing, ScanSearch is the only AR app available for WP7. We assume this will change down the road at some point, but this is just another reason to look at LG as a quality option when deciding which Windows Phone to choose. You can read (and watch) our full review of ScanSearch here.
There are a few more random apps available through the LG Apps Store that are more niche, but the ones I mentioned seemed the most interesting to me.
Overall, with a set of exclusive apps not available on any other Windows smartphone, and a promise of fresh and free App package updates every 2 months, LG seems to be taking the customization through apps opportunity on WP7 phones much more seriously then competition.
If you liked the post, you might find these interesting too:
- Win 3 AT&T LG Quantum and 2 LG Optimus 7 WP7 handsets with us
- Unboxing the LG Quantum: Brad’s First Impressions
- Exploring Dublin with LG Optimus 7 ScanSearch
- Smartphone use survey and LG Quantum/Optimus 7 giveway results. They ain’t smart”phones” anymore
- Microsoft Windows Phone Mango officially announced, brings IE 9, Groups, Threads and more