20 best free Windows Phone 7.5 Mango apps
12th Dec 2011 | 10:00
Top free apps for your Windows Phone handset
20 best free Windows Phone 7.5 Mango apps
With over 1000 apps in the Windows Phone Marketplace that use new features in Windows Phone 7.5 Mango (and over 42,000 apps in total), there's plenty to choose from.
We had a hard time narrowing this down to our 20 best free Windows Phone 7.5 apps, even leaving out pay-for apps like the excellent Thumba Photo Editor.
Here are our favourites that make the most of background tasks, secondary live tiles, access to the camera and other Mango improvements, or apps that make the new features in Mango more useful or easier to use - and they're all free.
Enjoy playlists you've already set up, search for tracks to listen to or add them to a specific playlist, or listen to friends' playlists.
You can stream tracks or save playlists to your phone to listen offline, you can go back and see what you've listened to recently, and while Spotify has its own player with options for sharing and starring tracks you can also use the standard Windows Phone volume and play controls without switching back to the app.
The what's new albums aren't limited to the six tiles you can see on screen; keep hitting refresh for another selection. About the only option from the desktop client we can't find is being able to rename a playlist; new playlists get the name of the first track, album or artist you add.
If you prefer Evernote to OneNote, the Mango update is crammed with improvements to make iPhone users jealous, including Wi-Fi background sync of your notes; you can pin specific notes, notebooks, tags or searches to the Start screen.
You can pin templates which can include tasks like taking a photo and saving it as a note with some boilerplate text - ideal for recording receipts, business cards, wine labels or anything similar. And when you search on Bing, you can swipe across for a list of matching notes in Evernote.
3. Tango Chat
Until the Skype and Lync apps come out, Tango Chat is the only video chat for Windows Phone and it's available on a lot of other platforms already so you probably have friends using it.
It's easy to find out as anyone in your address book using Tango shows up in your contact list automatically. Call quality is good; it works best with a front-facing camera but it still works without one (as long as you only want to either see or be seen but not both at once).
Mango lets you have your own music as ringtones. Rather than cutting MP3s down to 50 seconds and copying them through Zune by hand, use EasyRing to find free ringtones online, try them out and save them to your phone (two separate steps, by the way).
You can also download any MP3 file you can find on the Web and crop that to length on the phone. Although this app has a price tag, the free trial has all the features and the developers invite you to use and pay if you like it.
Being able to upload photos directly to Flickr is handy (although this can be infuriatingly slow) but what's most useful in the Mango update of the official Flickr app is being able to pin live tiles for your photostream and for updates from friends who haven't linked their Flickr account to Windows Messenger (so new pictures don't show up in the What's New page).
Windows Phone already has a lot of Facebook integration - Facebook events show up in your calendar, you get contact details, status updates and photos from friends.
The Mango version of the official app has a clean and simple Metro interface for getting more details, including a nicely tiled picture section. Most useful is being able to pin the Messages section as a live tile, instead of relying on email alerts; you can also pin Places to keep track of friends as well as Events and the News Feed.
7. 4th and Mayor
The official Foursquare app lets you pin live tiles for 'places' and 'specials' and it supports multitasking so it's faster to switch back from other apps, but we prefer 4th and Mayor which has much nicer live tile options.
As well as pinning CHECK-IN NOW to your Start screen, you can pin tiles for your favourite places and friends you want to keep track of - and you can choose the title and image to use for them.
Both the official Twitter app and the reliable Seesmic have Mango updates and despite the built-in integration you'll want an extra app for direct messages, reading lists and quoting tweets.
Seesmic has the edge with fast app that switching means you don't lose track of where you are in the stream of tweets when you switch to another app, and you can pin live tiles for replies and direct messages. If you're prepared to pay, we'd also recommend Rovi.
9. INRIX Traffic
Bing Maps shows you traffic levels; INRIX shows you far more detail, including roadworks and events that can cause traffic blackspots - and it can predict what the traffic is going to be like on a road when you drive it later in the day.
The Mango version lets you pin a map area to the Start screen, so you can keep your journey home at your fingertips.
Prefer Google's database of places to Bing Local Scout? Use Yapf to search Google - and see the places on Bing, complete with directions, or get an augmented reality view that overlays the results on the view in front of you, so you can see which of the pubs you can see in the distance is the one you're heading for.
You can also pin a place to the Start screen so you can keep an eye on the distance or get back to the directions quickly - great if you think you know the way but want to check it as you go.
10 more best free Windows Phone 7.5 apps
11. Sticky Tiles
OneNote is great for lists and well as notes, and you can pin individual notes to the Start screen, but if you just need a simple reminder to make a call or pay a bill, Sticky Tiles puts that right on screen.
You only get a few words but you can put more text on the back (which rotates automatically) and set the colour for the tile and text on both sides.
12. TuneIn Radio
Never mind streaming, how about listening to a real radio station? TuneIn is the new name for the extensive RadioTime catalogue of internet radio stations, which includes BBC stations (1, 2, 3 and 4 as well as 6 Music) as well as worldwide stations like Seattle's 1037 The Mountain.
You can search for stations, add them to your list of presets or pin a station straight to the front screen.
13. Pocket Recorder
We like Yivosoft Recorder for its simplicity and generous trial (it's a fully working app) and the fact that you can email recordings to yourself instead of using the free USB or Wi-Fi sync software.
If you want something rather more powerful, the trial of Pocket Recorder lets you pin a tile to start a new recording, pause a recording and restart it, trim a recording you forgot to stop straight away and make ringtones from recordings - but you have to remember set it to carry on recording under the lock screen by hand and we couldn't get the free trial to sync recordings to our PC.
Letting apps run in the background means you can leave a timer running while you play a game or read email. We like Timer for its clean interface and custom alert sounds, and Stopwatch has more stopwatch features (and a great panoramic interface), but SuperTimer is our favourite for Mango.
You get three timers that you can set to default time lengths you need frequently, and you can pin them to the front screen to start quickly; you can run all three timers at once (with custom messages so you know which one is finishing) and have the stopwatch running at the same time.
Fix one of those small but annoying niggles with Windows Phone by pinning shortcuts to turn off Bluetooth or Wi-Fi or turn on flight mode to your start screen with the free app Toggle. It's not as utterly simple but Connection Tiles lets you pin tiles to start a new email or SMS as well, and you can pick from different icons too.
We miss being able to type names into the Windows Phone dialler T9-style - searching the People tile and picking a person then a number then dialling is just a few clicks too many.
Neither of these diallers is perfect but they let you type a name and call it quickly. 7Dialer has intrusive ads but it searches far more quickly and shows the letters matching what you typed, TrueDialer is slower but better for names with spaces in.
The interface looks more like the Android app it started life as and it's a little confusing at first, but once you get the hang of it Autopanorama is a great app for shooting panoramic images.
After you take the first picture, the edges you need to match up are displayed at your chosen level of transparency so you can get the next shot in the right place - in fact you can't take it until they meet. Once you've got all the images you want, Autopanorama stitches them into a panorama you can save to your camera roll.
18. Photo Crop
If you want a powerful photo editor with lots of adjustments, pay for Thumba. If all you need is to crop and rotate images on your phone, Photo Crop does it neatly - chose Applications > Photo Crop from the menu at the bottom of a picture, drag the handles and then choose Apply Crop.
19. Reading Glasses
Reading Glasses lets you magnify small print. You could just use the camera but its zoom controls are a little easier to use and the focus is preset to macro. Works well for all but the tiniest, shiniest bottles.
20. SkyMap Free
Point your Windows Phone at the sky and SkyMap names stars, planets and constellations you can see. The Mango version has fast switching and uses the compass option so as you move the phone, you get a map of the sky you're looking at.
Equally useful is the new option to search for a star (which way should you look for the Pleiades?) and being able to see more or fewer stars to match the light pollution and flip quickly to the red text night view is also very handy.
Liked this? Then check out 10 Windows Phone 7.5 Mango tweaks
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