Michael DeAgonia in Computerworld writes about 11 cool new apps for the iPhone, saying that "it's the third-party software that makes it rock."

Last night, I thought that there are many counterparts offered for Windows Mobile phones that are comparable to these applications, and also worth a look: some are free and some that run a few dollars. 

As a side note, I'll wager that Apple's ISV community, availability of inexpensive or free iPhone apps (under $5-10 vs. a common $20 for an application) and the ease-of-use on the App Store will certainly have an impact on smartphone applications.

And now on to the quick comparison I compiled last night - please excuse any post midnite spelling or formatting errors.

Instant Messaging: The first app on Computerworld's list is AOL Instant Messenger (free) which allows IM via AOL's instant messaging service, and is noted as "already one of the most downloaded applications on the App Store." 

OK, here's one that matches up directly: AIM is also available for Windows Mobile, currently beta 2 and is also free.  In addition to AIM, there are a number of other commercial options for instant messaging as noted on the Windows Mobile Catalog.

  • Agile Messenger 3 from Agilemobile.com provides Push-to-Talk and Instant Multimedia Messaging via MSN, ICQ, AIM, and Yahoo!  (A free trial is available, $44.95 for a "Permanent Agile Messenger License, one time fee" or $11.95 for three months.)
  • imov Messenger Enterprise ($19.95) supports supports AIM, ICQ, MSN Messenger, Yahoo!, Google Talk and Jabber messaging systems right on your device, so you have no trouble staying in touch with the people that matter to you - even when you're on the run. imov even offers offline capabilities so you are other contacts can send/receive offline messages as soon as you sign back on!
  • Also see IM+ All-in-One Mobile Messenger from SHAPE Services ($29.95) for chat via AIM, MSN, Yahoo!, ICQ, Jabber, Google Talk and MySpace IM from your Pocket PC in real-time.

Remote Control: DeAgonia says that Apple's Remote software (free) is a "slick little app from Apple" for remotely controlling an iTunes library from the iPhone via Wi-Fi. For your Windows Mobile device, there are these applications of note from the Pocket PC magazine's 2007 awards, with several remote media controllers... but certainly the developers in Windows Mobile could come up with a great comeback to Apple's Remote app?

  • NoviiRemote from NoviiMedia ($19.99) that is a comprehensive remote control app that controle various pieces of your home entertainment system, from TVs to set top boxes and CE equipment like CD and DVD players. A more deluxe version allows you to customize your own button layouts and macro programming ($34.95).
  • PDAwin offers a voice operated universal remote control app ($14.95) for Pocket PC through Windows Mobile 2005 application that controls for your TV and other remote-enabled A/V equipment. "You can add 30 more devices using the Learn mode. It can recognize up to 25 voice commands for controlling a device. The application is skinnable and it also supports macros.
  • Quite slick is developer Jérôme LABAN offers a latest beta of his Bluetooth Remote Control for Windows Mobile Remote control software (free) to remotely control your PC's mouse and keyboard to control Windows Media Player, Vista's Media Center and other applications via Bluetooth.
  • A similar commercial app to the above offering from Jérôme is Salling Clicker ($23.95) from Salling Software.  It is an app that provides a Bluetooth and Wi-Fi remote control for your Windows PC or Macintosh.  You can download a free trial version to try it out.

Social networking: The article call out the Loopt service (free) as "one of the best implementations of social networking on the go."  An alternative (as Loopt integrates with these services) would be to access Facebook via their mobile site (which is how I access Facebook from my AT&T Tilt).

  • Also of note: Matthew Miller pointed out on his Mobile Gadgeteer blog that "there is a new application for Windows Mobile 6 devices called FriendMobilizer and just recently downloaded it on a couple of devices to try out."  FriendMobilizer is a Windows Mobile Facebook app that provides access to mail, profiles, updates and more.  It it supports photos, that would be a slam dunk.

Internet Radio and Music: AOL Radio (free) offers free streamed Internet radio to your phone.  Unless (until?) Pandora provides Windows Mobile compatibility, or perhaps something from the Zune team, here are a few options...

  • Radio365-Mobile 1.0 for Windows Mobile 5/6 offers free, commercial-sponsored Internet radio via mobile data or or Wi-Fi , with a free 5-day trial of their commercial-free plan from live365.  (Check with your mobile carrier else you may see significant mobile data plan charges.) The service provides artist and track info complete with album artwork.  Nice feature: it pauses and restarts automatically during phone calls. And it's easy to install: just go to www.live365.com/mobile, or download and install as normal.
  • Pocket Radio is an online streaming radio player. available from Resco ($19.95).  They offer a 31 day free trial.
  • e-mobile radio is another online streaming radio player from the folks who developed the Pocket XM Satellite Radio player
  • Related is Shazam (free for a limited time on the iPhone), which helps automatically identify a song using the iPhone's microphone. Available as a commercial service in the UK now for other mobile phone users, Shazam lets you... well... 'shazam' music by calling a specific number from your mobile phone for the equivalent of a $1 a 'shazam'.  I haven't used the service, but Computerworld reports that "After analyzing the tune, it kicks back results in seconds."
  • The Midomi site, similar to Shazam and noted in the ComputerWorld article, lets you search for a song by singing or humming the parts that you recall via your computer's microphone, or via text search to find artists and songs.

Tip Calculators:  Tips for the iPhone ($1.99) is simple enough for determining tips for restaurant bills (is it really that hard?) and figuring out who owes what when you dine with friends. FWIW, basic math is not that tough.  A simple tip: add the 15% tip is the service warrants it, round up to the nearest dollar and divide by the number of diners.

  • But if you must, see Tipster for Pocket PC (version 2) from Ilium Software is free and displays the bill, tip amount, bill + tip total divided by the number of people all on your screen at once. And TipCalculator by stoutbytes.com is a $3.95 quick tip calculator and has a 14 day free Trial.

Games: There are plenty of interesting games on the Windows Mobile Catalog site - including the new Gaxian Tri Ball ($7.95) and my wife's favourite, Bejeweled 2 ($19.99), but I haven't seen anything like Enigmo ($9.99), which utilizes iPhone multitouch as well as rich graphics, or Super Monkey Ball ($9.99): Computerworld's DeAgonia says is "easily the most addictive iPhone application yet."

My kids are interested in the likes of Machines at War, as well as the new Guitar Hero 3 Mobile... but the version for the Nintendo DS with fret bar is a must for our youngest.

So... What would you pick as a comparable to Enigmo or Super Monkey Ball?

If anything, low costs are interesting to see on the Apple App Store, and Texas Hold 'em is an example at $4.99 with high-res graphics, and play enabled over a local Wi-Fi network.

Of interest: Comic Touch ($4.99) for the iPhone is a very cute application.  Nothing like this for Windows Mobile AFAIK, but Plasq does offers Comic Life for both Mac and Windows platforms, allowing you create your own comics and picture albums (with your photo collection) and add captions, lettering effects text (like "BOOM!" or ZAP) and speech and thought balloons.  Anything out there for Windows Mobile that allows you to add balloons or text to photos?

On Apple's App Store: I noted previously that I'd certainly like to see a more integrated positive experience for Windows Mobile users similar to the one-stop-shopping (so to speak) that users now get with the Apple's App Store.  As DeAgonia notes in his article... 

"Easy to navigate through iTunes and on the iPhone/iPod touch, the App Store is skillfully designed to the point of being nearly effortless to use. Apple has even made it easy for people who may have accidentally deleted an application. Just re-download the app! The App Store will check your purchase history, see that you've already bought the item and allow you to transfer the file again at no cost. It's all automatic and behind-the-scenes."

Handango's "Handango InHand" site offers access to apps and content directly from the phone, but I'm hopeful that we'll see a more Windows Mobile friendly version of the new Windows Mobile Total Access site.  It would be great to have a more seamless way to search for, access, install and manage applications and files (like ring tones) than we have today. (See my post today answering a customer question for more.)

Have a good weekend.

Tags: Microsoft, Windows Mobile, iPhone, mobile phones, smartphones.