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. The 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.