Todays community member we’re highlighting is Mike Macias, Editor-in-Chief of the The Mobile Fanatics, a long time favorite blog of any Nokia follower or fan.
So, Mike, what’s on your home screen?
As a longtime Symbian user who was comfortable with widgets and multiple homescreens, I was a bit reluctant to give Windows Phone a shot. I saw screenshots of the Windows Phone operating system when it first came out and initially felt like a single page of tiles was too restricted and simple.
But once I tried Windows Phone on the Nokia Lumia 800 I was surprised at how useful these squares can be.
Because of my great experience I had with the Lumia 800, I decided to keep Windows Phone as my main device and now I use the Nokia Lumia 900 for AT&T full time.
Live Tiles from great 3rd party apps
Windows Phone has some great built-in widgets that come preloaded on the Nokia Lumia 900. Most of these are self-explanatory and can be tested out on Nokia’s Facebook demo page for Windows Phone.
What I really want to get into is the good stuff; third-party applications!
Now let me give you a little bit of information before I start the list. Some of these tiles are simply shortcuts to the application. No frills or thrills. But Windows Phone has a great feature for app developers which allows you to pin specific areas inside your application to the homescreen.
Now let’s see which 3rd party apps are important enough to be on my homescreen.
- NextGen Reader – This is my favorite Google Reader app for Windows Phone for many reasons besides the live tile. But save those reasons for another day. We’re here to talk about homescreens! I can pin specific folders to the homescreen and even single feeds.
- Toggle – This application allows me to pin tiles that take me to specific connectivity settings of my phone. Other shortcuts you can pin include data, bluetooth, airplane mode, and reminders. Toggle is highly useful and free in the marketplace.
- INRIX – This is the traffic application that I mentioned at the beginning of this section. Living in Southern California makes quick access to these map views extremely helpful. My “trip to work” map view is pinned to the homescreen so that when I launch the app I don’t have to navigate around or zoom in and out to see the freeway I’m going to travel on. INRIX is very accurate for traffic conditions and has many more features to check out. You can find INRIX free in the Marketplace.
- iHeartRadio – This is another app which I don’t just pin to the homescreen as a basic shortcut. I was able to pin a specific radio station which I listen to more than once per day. When I touch this tile I’m able to start my favorite radio station instantly! The great thing about iHeartRadio is that the app uses default music controls in Windows Phone so that I can pause and start the station whenever I want, even from the lock screen.
- Fandora – This is a Pandora app for Windows Phone that works great. I have only been using it for a few weeks but I absolutely love that I can pin my favorite Pandora station to the homescreen.
- SuperTimer – If you’re looking for an advanced timer application for your Nokia Lumia device look no further. I can setup multiple timers with specific functions. I have my “Laundry” timer pinned to the homescreen. The instant I tap it the countdown timer starts from 1 hour and 10 minutes. When the time is up an alarm goes off! SuperTimer runs in the background so you can do other tasks and your timer won’t stop.
- OneNote – If you need a note-taking app for Windows Phone look no further than your Office icon that comes preloaded on the phone. OneNote by Microsoft lets you sync notes in the cloud so that they are accessible from a computer, phone, and tablet. I have a shortcut pinned to my homescreen that allows me to start a new note instantly. It’s saved to the cloud while I work so I don’t have to worry about hitting a “save” button every few minutes.
- Flashlight-X – A basic flashlight app for Windows Phone that turns on the dual-LED flashlight the instant I tap the tile. Very handy when you need to find your keyhole in the dark!
- 4th & Mayor – Need to check-in to Foursquare quickly? Tapping this tile quickly brings up a list of nearby locations that I can check-in to.
That’s it for the tiles that are deep-linked to specific tasks and functions within applications. The rest are a few more apps that I like to have quick access to and are pinned to my homescreen.
Plus a couple of bookmark links to my favorite sites.