Free Windows Phone Apps (May 2015)

With Windows 10 a scant 2 or 3 months away, there is a question of what happens to apps developed for the Windows Phone 8.1 platform. For one thing, Microsoft has promised support for iOS and Android apps on Windows 10, which may muscle out dedicated Windows Phone apps. Another concern is possible compatibility issues between current Windows Phone 8.1 apps with the upcoming Windows Phone 10. Whatever the outcome, there are still plenty of really good Windows Phone 8.1 apps out there so there's no reason to stop using your Windows Phone device.

Here are a few picks I've installed on my Lumia 925 in the last month or so:

1. FTP Server by D_Pavel - If you work with Linux boxes and MacOSX machines alongside your Windows 7/8.1 desktop, then you might want to skip the micro USB cable and instead set up your Lumia as an FTP server. The FTP Server app for Windows Phone is a well-written and immensely useful app for managing files on your Lumia over your network. For more details, you can read a recent post about the app here at Unsolicited But Offered.

2. NBC News - The NBC News app for Windows Phone 8.1 is surprisingly thorough. The app design and amount of content are actually a few notches higher than the CBS News app. Apart from articles, you can access slideshows, four of NBC's news shows and short video clips. If you like your American news straight from the peacock's mouth, then the NBC News app is worth installing.


Note: You can actually access NBC news content using the app even if you're working in China.

3. BBC Radio Streams app - I'm a huge fan of BBC radio and I'm disappointed that BBC hasn't developed a dedicated BBC app for the Windows Phone platform. The BBC Radio Streams app is a great way to get your fix on your Lumia. Tap Schedules on the app to access BBC local and national BBC radio stations and their currently running programs. What sets this radio app apart is comprehensive access to BBC radio programs and the ability to switch between AAC and MP3 audio streams.


When you access radio streams from the app, you will immediately notice that it sounds very much like audio from an old-school radio. The quality of the stream is not nearly as clear as audio from TuneIn's services and other stream aggregators. However, the loudness of my Lumia 925's speakers more than compensate for the audio's shortcomings.


Note: The Radio app for iOS8 on my iPad 2, which has always been reliable, had started having problems maintaining streaming BBC audio. Programs would suddenly cut out for a few minutes and then start playing again. The issue could be caused either by the app, my iPad 2 or iOS8. In comparison, the BBC Radio Streams app for Windows Phone 8.1 maintains a consistent stream and doesn't drop the connection.

4. myMediaHub for Windows Phone - If Smart Player for Windows Phone 8.1 doesn't satisfy your media streaming needs, then try myMediaHub. MyMediaHub accesses UPnP and DLNA servers on your network and can send media to other devices for playback. The app is comparable to Smart Player and it was able to play media from an openSUSE 13.2 server and a Windows 8.1 laptop.



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