Everyone has a set of apps they absolutely need on mobile devices. Windows 10 Mobile has taught many of us to expect very little from Microsoft's app ecosystem, which has remained stagnant at best under Windows 10 for PC.
How Microsoft's mythical Surface Andromeda will deliver apps is unconfirmed at this time, but it's easy to assume that Andromeda will suffer the same struggles Windows 10 Mobile did, if not more.
At the very least, we know Andromeda will be able to run UWP apps that have been built with small screen layouts in mind. Third-party apps like Readit and MyTube will bring some of the biggest services to the platform even if the big players continue to ignore Windows, while PWA apps for things like Twitter and Uber will bring even more. Microsoft's own suite of UWP mobile apps continue to receive updates too, for the most part. As for the rest, there's a huge question mark hanging over how Microsoft intends to fix some of the biggest gaps in Andromeda's app lineup.
Here are some of my own "red line" apps that will simply prevent me from even considering Microsoft's Surface Andromeda as a purchase option, and frankly they're relatively conservative asks.
The biggest, most glaring gap in Andromeda's repertoire for me, and many other users outside of the US, will be WhatsApp. WhatsApp is the primary method of quick image and text messaging for hundreds of millions of people around the world.
The app authenticates using only a phone number, sending messages via end-to-end encryption between user and recipient. WhatsApp has supported Microsoft's platforms pretty well over the years, delivering one of the few "big name" apps for Windows Phone and 10 Mobile that received persistent updates that kept it largely in-line with its iOS and Android counterparts. The problem is, the app won't be compatible with Andromeda without a significant re-write.
Will WhatsApp take the time to bring out a UWP version of its app for Surface Andromeda? Personally, I think it's unlikely. But considering Facebook has continued to support Messenger, Instagram and its Facebook app, as clunky as they are, there's at least a decent chance Microsoft will try to convince the social media giant to pledge WhatsApp support to its next mobile effort. There's also a good bit of evidence that it could be on the way.
Spotify (or Groove Music)
To coincide with the untimely murder of Groove Music, Spotify unveiled its "support" of the Microsoft Store, with a messy desktop app that is inferior to Groove Music in almost every way (can you tell I'm bitter?). The biggest problem, of course, is that it isn't UWP and won't run on Surface Andromeda.
Spotify does have a web version of its music player, but who knows whether that will be a viable solution for Andromeda, including things like background playback and its impact on battery life. Additionally, you can forget offline playback too, if all we have to rely on is a dumb web version.
Andromeda would have a handful of decent music services, mainly restricted to the US, but for those who actually want a music service with a decent selection in Europe, Spotify is now the only real choice. Microsoft needs to work with Spotify either to bring their app to UWP, or revive those old Groove Music contracts. Without a decent music service, Andromeda is basically dead on arrival.
Slack is another app with a decent web version, but without native integration for things like notifications and so on, it's a band aid solution at best.
Slack is virtual office tool used by millions across the globe, including the writers here at Windows Central. We use Slack to organize content, alert each other to breaking news, and keep each other informed of what we're currently working on.
Slack supported Windows 10 Mobile relatively well with a native app, and while it always paled in comparison to its Android and iOS versions, it did the job. For Andromeda, a web version won't cut the mustard, and its absence is something that will keep me off the platform. Hopefully, the Windows 10 Mobile version will get a port.
Not as many as I expected
When I sat down to write this article, I was surprised just how few apps I really truly absolutely needed for Andromeda that wouldn't be available at least in some form. There are a bunch that I would miss if I moved from Android, such as Pokemon Go, Discord, and the most up to date versions of Instagram. For the most part, though, I simply don't use that many mobile apps, and I know I'm in the minority in that.
What apps do you absolutely need Andromeda to have before you'd consider buying one? Let us know in the comments.
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Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!