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Here’s how Nokia and Microsoft made our app even better

Jay Bennett Windows Phone Central

There’s an app all of you should have on your Windows Phone right now. It’s ours and it’s made by Jay Bennett. As you may have noticed, our app hit version 4.4 nearly a month ago. It wasn’t a big update in terms of features. Instead, it was a refinement of what was already a killer app. How did Jay refine it? With a bit of help from feedback from both users and a recent design review with Nokia and Microsoft. Let’s check out the video from that design review.

Jay had the chance to sit with Dave Crawford, design lead at Microsoft, to get feedback and ideas on how to improve our app. Of course our app has been around since early 2011. Back then working with the design language formerly known as metro was a new concept to app developers.

We’ve had many updates to our app over the course of time, but there were still a few vestigial design elements present in our app. Dave worked with Jay in identifying those elements and bringing our app more in compliance with newer design principles found in Windows Phone 8. However, it's worth pointing out that a lot of the suggestions Jay received will be implemented into a larger update for our app on Windows Phone after he gets the Windows 8 version out the door. 

If you’re a developer or designer do check out the on the Nokia Developer website. It’s part of a series on design consultations for Windows Phone.

Of course thanks to Dave Crawford and everyone for their help in making our app even better.

Source: Nokia Developer

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Reader comments

Here’s how Nokia and Microsoft made our app even better

160 Comments

Completely agree! When my focus died I had to use a android phone for 3 weeks. I was lost without the wpc app!

Yep. It's just a great app, almost any app for reading, community or "social" would be advised to just rip off WP Centrals' app. Great, simple UI, and fast. Kudos and congrats.

+920! This app is one of, if not the, best app available on the Windows Phone store. At 79p you cannot complain (and I got it for free!) and every article is such a great read. Keep going guys, I will not stop using this app. Cannot wait for a Windows 8 version! :)

While I agree with you guys, the same should go for AndroidCentral and iMore. This is to make it consistent.

 

It gives the same effect when some app is free on Android and/or iOS and paid on Windows Phone; as if its obligatory to give away apps for first two for free and "if you need (obsure) Windows Phone app, you would have to pay us". The point is NOT one dollar, the devil is in the effect caused by the detail: Having an app on Android is fame game, having an app on Windows Phone is waste of time.

 

And THIS^ we do not expect from WPCentral. I will pay them $10 separately, but if Android app is free and WP app is paid from the same vendor / studio / LLC, I will not pay a dime unless the price is streamlined and yet, justified! Windows Phone has earned this much respect... at least for me.

Sorry but this is not a reasonable explanation, It's not like Wpcentral is running a charity here , you run ads on the site so I suppose you have a steady stream of income.  Why not pay Jay to make an app and support with ads like every other new app does( including other Mobile Nation sites)?   

If Jay made the app as a 3rd party developer then it would have made sense to ask for money , but the app is branded as "Official" .

Sorry but this is not a reasonable explanation, It's not like Wpcentral is running a charity here , you run ads on the site so I suppose you have a steady stream of income.

 

The only thing that isn't reasonable is how entitled you come off.  Since you can clearly see that each site in MoNa is created by different people, maybe it's entirely possible that each dev does something different to supplement the income.  It's a damn dollar at the end of the day.  Run a few bing searches to the rewards point added to your account if you really feel that cheap.  

 

Absolutely ridiculous.  Add to that, when mobile nations had their event in NYC, they didn't charge a dime to any of us, just asked us to register.  THE LEAST YOU CAN DO IS PUT IN THE BUCK. Damn. 

What an ignorant reply, I'm not cheap, and I don't have any qualms paying for this or any other app if it's woth it. As a matter I even paid for MetroTube eventhough the free and the paid versions are the same. My problem is, this is an official app.. if it were to be a 3rd party app I wouldn't have complained. 

WPC is the best app purchase I've ever made. 90% of the time I'm using my phone, I'm in WPC. I would've payed even more if that was the case. And regarding the general "free" apps demand, its just wrong. You pay for your PC and console apps/games, right? If you can't afford an app, skip that burger, pizza, cola or whatever and pay for that specific app you want. Don't whine about one dollar.

True but still prices should be equal of same brand in different stores. Apparently MobileNation do not care about Windows Phone as they don't have official app for WPCentral on Windows Phone.

 https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.androidcentral.app

vs

 ttp://www.windowsphone.com/en-us/store/app/wpcentral/e6c3c78a-4382-e011-986b-78e7d1fa76f8

 

Compare the publisher names and price tags. Mobile Nations is not a registered published on Windows Phone store, which in it self is a dam shame!

 

And to add insult to the injury, Google play store has WPCentral Forums app by Mobile Nations and its FREE of cost.

I think we are considered as premium subscribers, just like the apple phone users. You must have noticed it by now that some of the apps in iphone are paid ones, when they are free in android. I think Dev's must have considered that people who use android must live cheap, its better to get the money back from them through ads rather than make them pay for the app:). This is how Google's been doing from start. They make every app they design for free, but collect our info(May be sell it(Just kidding))..Its a good thing to be considered premium subscribers ;)

We were the first site with a strong mobile app offering and this was the revenue model I agreed with the site back then. As has been stated, we still offer the free, unlimited trial with ads which has the same functionality you'd find on the other platforms

That is definitely something we're considering, but remember that in app purchases don't exist on WP7 and we support both versions at this time

Yup, but the total expenses on apps/in-app purchase will accumulate overtime and shall burn you slowy if not tracked. Buy but don't get carried away man.

Just curios. Correct me if I'm wrong. Isn't it more helpful/profitable to use ad-support (in the long run) then paid version? I'm saying so specifically for this kind of app of course where viewership and impression is important.

Not with the very poor rates paid in Windows Phone advertising. At least, certainly not back in the WP7 days when we launched. Things might be different now

First and foremost Jay, great app, well worth the dollar I paid for it, by far the most used app on my phone, you have no need to defend yourself or what you charge for this app, secondly, any true WP enthusiast and WPC fan gladly threw a dollar your way for your phenomenal work and dedication to this app and this site, lastly we, the WPC fan base have got your back..... Now, where did I put that baseball bat....

Don't sweat the bottom feeders Jay. Anyone who is unwilling to fork over the dollar can damn well deal with ads. Such a shame our society has come to this type of whining about not being given everything for free... really irks me. There IS a free alternative...you just have to view ads.

Who cares? Buck up and pay the dollar for the superior app. Or use the free version and deal with the ads. The app is well worth the dollar, and certainly not worth complaining about.

Don't be an ass kisser ur whole life..i have the wpc app, I paid for it but nw I feel tht I paid someone to do something in their 'free time'!!

I guess you mean insufficient advertising inventory problem that I read from AAWP. Well, I was clicking the ads like mad for a moment. But, now I have more readable screen space.

It is indeed a great reply but let me check if I got it right.

We are talking about an app for WINDOWS PHONE Central that is free for Android and iOS users but paid for Windows Phone users. Is this correct?

I guess it makes sense as we (Windows Phone users, the ones that would be more interested in using the app) are already convinced and the others are the ones needing to be shown "the light". But it kind of pisses me off a little nonetheless.

Oh come on. Make a feature comparison of WPC app vs. iMore, Crackberry and Android Central. Then you can think are those extra features worth a dollar...
Or just download the trial and stfu.

 

Really? €0.99 is a hurdle for you? And you afford a smartphone how exactly?

 

If you want to be cheap you can always use the ad-supported free version.. But c'mon, seriously dude.

I believe if you read the description of the app you would notice it says:

"The available trial is ad-supported with only the video section, live tiles, toast notifications, offline reading, wallpapers and the podcast player disabled, all other features are accessible."

how is it not free now? please explain... the difference its if you pay $1 cheap dollar (you can easily get anywhere) you can unlock the features it mention.

They need to make money somehow, and if they decide to give the app free (With no ads) they may as well take all the ads off the website too. :|

Sign up for Bing Rewards, use Bing for search, redeem points for MS Store credit, redeem voucher, buy app.

No need to lift the couch and literally, no $ out of your pocket.

Look there are people who would not mind paying a dollar for the good work done by Jay but they are left with no choice as MS does not support buying of apps in their countries. Does that mean they are not entitled to use this fabulous app? That is why they want a free version with all features available.
P.S. I have bought this app and trust me, this being my first ever purchase from the WP store, I love this app more than any other.

It is a great app and worth it... Don't want to pay, browse the website... You will only miss out the experience of a fine way keep up with new on the WP side of the world. Oh yeah you saved a buck, go buy a taco. Lol!

Kidding aside, this is one of my most used apps... I almost never got to the site. I am on the forums from my phone.

Need a pull to refresh, it was one push or click, now it is two for the front page.
More forum, poll integration and it would be perfect.
Damn near it now though.

Jay - any estimate on the Windows 8 app release date? Bing news, Flipboard etc are not cutting it on my Surface .. we need your app!
edit: i should have read all the later comments before jumping on your first response!

We can't do a normal beta test because the Windows 8 store has no concept of betas. But there will be news on this front very soon!

Forget Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, and Flipboard, "this" is the news I've been waiting to hear for a long time. I just might get one of the things I wanted for Christmas after all!

It will be nice not to have to go to the ad-bloated web page anymore. While ads help with funding, they make loading and scrolling a bear. It's really frustrating. (I realize this is a mobile nations standard and not just wpcentral)

I wish all news reader apps were like this one. Entirely self contained. Read the articles, view the videos, comment and read comments all within the app, no need to open the browser. This makes your app one of the best.

Just to warn you; initially our Win 8 app might not be quite as self contained, but hopefully that makes sense when you use it

I can deal with "initially". The WP version didn't become what it is today overnight. At least we'll have something once it's released.

Windows Phone and WPCentral are full speed ahead. Congratulations to wpcentral, with recent changes and additions, the news just hasn't stopped, always excited to refresh and see new quality content (which is happening a lot these days). 

The biggest complaint I have about the WPCentral app is when it hyperlinks - especially when it comes to voting.  I know there are ways to hit the links but they're not intuitive or at least it does it in a manner people don't expect.  This being said, WPCentral app is one of those apps I use multiple times a day.  That says a lot about the quality of the app.  Kudos to Jay!

I've done hyperlinks better in the Windows 8 app and if there are no issues with how they're done I'll be bringing that back to the WP app

Most definitely! I may as well have it pinned next to Music, Facebook and Email because I probably open it more than those 3 combined.

An indefinite progress indicator when refreshing wouldn't go amiss. Infact it's recommended in the MSDN design guidelines...

WPCentral has always been my favorite and most used app since the beginning of Windows Phone. Keep it up!

Dave and his team are great, but you are welcome to contact any of us dev's here at Microsoft, we are always willing to help. Yes even in our spare time!

I love the app, was my first purchase from the store.

- Would love a more twitter/ 6tag style.Sliding left through the panorama for example could filter apps, games, reviews, etc. which then allows pull to refresh. (rather than the tiles that doubleflip to filter).

- The app doesnt need features thats for sure.

- What i would REALLY love to see, is a balance between the WPC Feed, with the WPC Forum, rather than feeling that the Forum is a sub menu. give if more power (some way to show images in the forum)

Ammazing work Jay. keep it up. :D

I want to start off thanking you for existing, the great stories, the writing, the great app, and your presence on social media. I look forward to WP, WPCentral, and the community in this new and exciting year upon us.
I conclude this by asking for a custom notification sound for your app. You have no idea how excited I get when I hear a notification and glance at it and see that it's from WPCentral. Imagine that X 920 when the signal to noise ratio is reduced by knowing immediately by the tone that my favorite app has another great story and that somewhere in the story's comments Daniel will wittily and sarcastically add to the thread or that Sam will gush with the rest of us lowly members when something is genuinely awesome

The WPCentral App is definitely one of my favourites. I wasn't too keen on the removal of the refresh button from where it was (yes Jay, I'm with you on that too) but alas...
Just two suggestions:
1 - perhaps re-center the tiles in the "browser"? So that it doesn't show that bit of the "search" bar and the tiles aren't so pulled to the left.
2 - shades in the comment section. While we can see discern who answered a comment we made first, when other replies appear we can't tell if the person was replying to us or to another replier.

Now...I find it curious how he pointed out the lack of organization in the settings of the App. I wonder if he has pointed that out to Microsoft? Because the WP OS settings ARE a complete illogical, unorganized mess. I dearly hope they change that on 8.1. Either gives us organizational options (last updated, alphabetical order etc like on Windows) or let us organize the listing for ourselves as we can do on Android.

WP Central's app is my most used app, constantly updating me on amazing WP news, on my lock screen and my live tile! Jay does a brilliant job making a beautiful app. I just bought a black Friday Surface and have been wanting a Windows 8 app! So, thank you! I want it sooner than soon!

Why is Wpcental app a paid app ?  I don't mind paying for apps but I've to pay or download this on prinicple.. the other mobile nation sites have free apps , why not Wpcentral ? 

Lol. Jay's app is worth way more than $0.99. I had a Nexus 4 for a short time and the Android Central app isn't anywhere near as good as Jay's. Cut the dude some slack and pony up the $0.99 for what is probably your most used app.

I'm not suggesting he shouldn't paid for his hardwork, he definately should ! My problem is with  how the "cost" is passed on to the reader. The app is called "Official" because it has the blessing of WpCentral, if it were to be an unofficial 3rd Party app then I wouldn't have complained. WPCentral and BillBoald apps are the only two paid news apps on the store. 

trial is the ad version... it only misses some features. go read the description of the app in the store and you will see what it says. you will then understand the app has a free version, and if you want the extra features, you can easily pay $1 dollar

like i said above it says ""The available trial is ad-supported with only the video section, live tiles, toast notifications, offline reading, wallpapers and the podcast player disabled, all other features are accessible.""

Whenever there's a story about a new or updated Windows Phone app, I fire up the WPCentral app, go to the story, and then scroll over to "more" and tap "download app". It's faster and easier than finding it on the WP Store and the best way to get an update when it's not showing for me.

Love this app. I use it more than any other. Well worth the 79p. Love being able to scroll left to download an app from the news section. Nice one guys.

This is a great app!
I do wish there were a way to watch(or listen) to the podcast live. I used to be able to watch it live on my Roku but I can't even do that anymore.
Keep up the good work.

This would be great. I always seem to have trouble getting to the podcast after seeing it announced in the news feed. I wish there was just a one tap link in the More section.

There are two problems with the otherwise excellent app, that I should probably email directly to you, but I'll write them here too.

Fast resume from tile! Kinda surprised this isn't implemented yet. Depressing how few apps actually support this even after a whole year...

I also think some sort of unread article management need to be added. Think like how the email app works- you've got a list of emails, unread ones are colored, and you can swipe over to an "unread" page. This needs to happen with wpcentral. This also implies being able to select multiple items in the list to mark as read.

I do use this app the most. The look and feel, the quality of the images against the dark black background. Plus its buttery smooth. Top notch guys.

I really think a lot of people get hung up on the paid/free app models.

The amount of work that goes into the most basic of apps is easily worth £1/$1 etc it's not as if every dev is a multi millionaire, there is a massive amount of work/time/money that is used by devs prior to that app appearing in the store, so a massive amount of devs are playing catchup from day one.

Plus it's self fulfilling as if the dev produces a good app, gets paid, then feels confident in creating more apps, gaining more experience to make each subsequent app better.

And this leaves end users with a healthy store with lots of decent apps to choose from.

At the bottom of the live tile where wpcentral is written, I would really like to see WPCentral as the name. That's because all the other apps use capital letters on their live tile names and this one really looks a bit out of place. It is a minor thing but I would personally want it to be at par with all other apps on my home screen.

I complain about having to pay for certain apps. But this is one I paid for, and I couldn't agree more. Its essential for windows phone. Should be a built in app.

Now, will Jay make the imore, crackberry, and androidcentral apps, as it was announced some time ago that there would be a WPCentral app on BB10, imore app on Android, etc. And not forum apps, real experiences.

And I think, in order for Apple to stop rejecting everything that isn't imore, to just make ONE mobile nations app, so we don't need like 20 apps. Just a suggestion.

No offence to anyone at Microsoft WPCentral needs a refresh but its not an app someone should worry about, its an amazing feat of metro goodness.

Just to be clear, we went to see Nokia and Microsoft after they offered this service. So it was us seeking their advice, not them forcing us to do it their way :)

WPC was my first paid app that I purchased from da store when I had my Nokia 900 and way before that I used to read my news from Engadget and Nokia conversation apps so I don't visit those sites anymore and right when da Nokia 920 came out I got it and im glad I didn't have to repay for WPC app again.

No offense, but I really didn't like the app when I downloaded it - it's good to see you're finally getting some input from an internal designer at MS for feedback. Polish is something that is key to Windows Phone and while your app had tons of functions, it just wasn't polished yet.

Good luck, and happy coding Jay.

Am I the only one who is bothered by the the fact that when you go to the next page in the forums you are taken to the corresponding point that you were on on the previous page? ie. Scroll to bottom of page 1 swipe to next page and you're taken to the bottom of page 2, instead of the top which would be logical. I bought the app, definitely worth it for the $1 but that has alwasy irked me. It doesn't happen within the individual threads, just when browsing the forums. 

OK.  I think the article was supposed to be about the Nokia Design Consultation experience, rather than whether the WPC app was free or not.

Anyway, I have my 1-hour consult with Toledo2 via Nokia this afternoon and I'm so stoked and a bit nervous.  Hopefully they'll be gentle....

Best of luck with it! Remember that you're going there to get some cool ideas and a pair of fresh eyes. If you're anything like me it can be hard to remember that when someone is critiquing something you've poured so much of yourself in to :)

That's me.  I'll have to put my ego aside.  Not easy to do.  Just have to keep reminding myself that they're trying to help me.

WP Central is the greatest example of why Microsoft needs to junk that half- baked RT OS and use WP OS on both phone and tablet.

+925. Can't live without this app my dude. I've had 3 windows phones and the first app downloaded is WPC. Worth the money.