While the Windows Phone software catalog can't hold a candle to Google Play and Apple's App Store in terms of the sheer amount of apps, it at least is making big strides in getting the most in-demand apps covered.
Microsoft announced that two popular apps, Instagram and Waze, have finally been published for Windows Phone 8. "The arrival of Instagram, which has more than 150 million users around the world, brings one of the world's most popular social photo apps to what many critics have called the world's best smartphone cameras," wrote Michael Stroh, a Microsoft spokesperson in a Windows Phone Blog post.
Instagram is a social-enabled photo-sharing app for iOS and Android that allows users to apply filters and quickly post the results on their social media accounts, including Facebook and Twitter. Its frictionless approach of blending mobile photography with social sharing not only earned it a huge user base, it attracted the attention of Facebook, which snapped up the startup in 2012 with a $1 billion bid. The final tally turned out to be substantially less after Facebook shares took a beating post-IPO, resulting in a $730 million price tag for the transaction when all was said and done.
Instagram for Windows Phone 8 is compatible with the mobile operating system's self-updating Live Tiles, which reside on the Start screen, Stroh explained. It also supports fast app resume, a feature that grants users quick access to inactive apps.
"Just grab a picture from your Photos Hub, choose a filter to transform its look and feel, then post to Instagram (or share to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Foursquare)," wrote Stroh. He also went on to clarify that the app does indeed allow users to snap photos contrary to some early reports.
Instagram reps were quoted as saying, "Windows Phone users will be directed to their camera roll instead of a camera interface initially, where they have the option to either select an existing photo or take a new photo to apply filter to before sharing."
Also new to Microsoft's app store is Waze, a traffic and navigation app that crowdsources driving information. Waze community members contribute information on local gas prices, accidents, traffic snarls and other factors that can affect a commute, helping drivers save money and safely navigate their road travels. It also helps drivers "meet up and coordinate with friends on the road," added Stroh.
Instagram and Waze join a growing list of apps that topped the charts on iOS and Android. Vine and a Star Wars-themed version of Angry Birds, recently hit the Windows Phone 8 platform.
And there are indications that the mobile OS is gaining ground with app developers. Strategy Analytics expects that the number of developers building apps for Windows Phone will double in 2014. A recent report from IDC revealed that of Windows Phone 8's share of the mobile OS market grew a staggering 156 percent year-over-year during the third quarter of 2013.