Unofficially Official: How Windows Phone developers are filling the app gap


One of the biggest issues Windows Phone has faced since it was announced over three years ago has been apps. Windows Phone launched with a number of big name apps such as Netflix, Facebook, and Twitter, but those are just a fraction of what’s needed in todays mobile landscape. There is still an “app gap” keeping Windows Phone from truly being on par with other platforms. Developers are doing their part to fix that.

Windows Phone developers have always been a resourceful bunch. Apps like MetroTube and Radio Controlled allowed users to use popular services that weren’t yet available. Those apps were easy compared with the task of bringing apps like Instagram or SnapChat to the platform. Developers were able to create hacky “viewer” apps, but full functionality was never included. Then Instagraph came along.


On April 2nd news broke about an Instagram app for Windows Phone that would allow users to actually upload photos. This was obviously a very big deal. Apps like Instacam and Metrogram allowed users to see their Instagram feeds, but uploading was never possible. The developers found a way to upload images to Instagram without an official API. At first the functionality was limited, but it soon opened up. The possibility for other unofficially official apps was born.


Next was Itsdagram, which offered a full featured and unlimited approach to Instagram. It was so full featured that Microsoft actually asked them to change their name and design to be a little less Instagram-y. Instance was born, and suddenly Windows Phone users weren’t quite so desperate for an official Instagram app. The rumors for the official Instagram for Windows Phone app have drastically decreased since Instagraph and Instance arrived.


Next came apps like SwapChat and ChatSnap to fill the SnapChat gap. Resourceful developers were once again able to figure out how to make an unofficial full experience. Once SnapChat was conquered Vine became the center of attention, but that provided little resistance to the mighty Windows Phone developers. 6sec arrived and suddenly Windows Phone users had the power to upload to Instagram, SnapChat, and Vine.


Windows Phone developers are making sure users have access to all the popular apps and services of the day. They are using their precious time and resources to do what the big companies won’t do. Official apps are certainly better for the platform in the eyes of those on the outside looking in, but for current users a 3rd-party app can fill a void.┬áThe opportunity for Instagram, SnapChat, Vine, and even Google to buy the work of a Windows Phone dev to create an official app is there, but no one is taking them up on the offer.

The remarkable thing about Windows Phone developers is that they are incredibly loyal to an OS that is stuck in 3rd place. Like many of you, I was an Android user before I switched to Windows Phone. I never saw the same type of loyalty and dedication that I’ve seen with Windows Phone devs. Next time you open up Instance and upload an image to Instagram, or send a snap to your friend with SwapChat, or create a Vine with 6sec, remember the dev that made it possible.

  • mrbigglesworff

    And this is why I will continue to support this platform. Quality is much more important than quantity. These devs deserve a few beers for their hard work!

  • Harsha Deep Reddy

    indeed we owe a great thanks to Rudy Huyn, Daniel Gary and other dedicated devs serving this beautiful platform .. they are an inspiration to devs like me

  • iLove2argue

    kudos to all developers for making WP apps! thanks a lot of ur passion and time. I really love my windows phone. I don’t care if still lacking of apps and OS also behind but still I love nokia windows phone! WPOS will evolve anytime soon.

  • abgenx

    This underground movement of Windows Phone devs is amazing, and at some point, consumers will catch on to the fact that the “cool guys,” allied to Google and Apple, are working hard to dictate what mobile services and devices consumers buy in a happy duopoly. Microsoft’s services are very popular, from Office 365, Skype, SkyDrive, Hotmail, Xbox, etc. They may not be as cool as Apple and Google, but you can see why Google and Apple are so threatened by Microsoft’s phone efforts, despite the tiny share.

    Even if Instagram or Vine release free official apps on Windows Phone, I will pay these unofficial devs for their efforts as a strong token of appreciation. I know many in the WP community feel the same.

  • HoppITUp

    Love my Lumia 822 and prior to that my HTC Trophy. I never like any of the apps on my droid unincredible, but have already purchased multiple apps and games for my WP8.
    Devs please keep at it, good apps are supported on this platform.

  • westex

    really rooting for Windows Phone to make it. The OS feels really high end and works so well, All it needs is apps. Wonder where the devs are for Blackberry?