Dual posts from Microsoft today describe how the Windows Phone Store—the new, Windows Phone 8 version of Windows Phone Marketplace—has improved for both users and developers. But even those new developer features will be of interest to Windows Phone 8 users and fans.
In a post to the Windows Phone Blog, Mazhar Mohammed explains how the new Windows Phone Store works in Windows Phone 8. “The official arrival of Windows Phone 8 brings with it some great new upgrades to the Windows Phone Store, including new ways for finding and buying apps, and new options for managing what apps or games your kids can get their hands on,” he writes.
New features include:
In the Apps and Games views in Windows Store, you’ll see a grid of dynamic content tiles, one of which is Collections. (The Music view has this tile grid too, but no Collections tile.)
Collections help you find quality apps and games in a store that, at 120,000+ apps, is quickly growing out of control. If you dive into that tile, you’ll see the actual collections. In Apps, these include Popular and famous, Election 2012, Let’s talk about the weather, Must have games, The toolbox, Let’s go shopping, Word games, Cloud apps, Golfing, Astronomy, Painting and drawing, Weekend trip planners, Pet owners, Saturday night, Your social networks, For the kids, Music lovers, Students and scholars, Customize your phone, At the movies, Money and budget, App for work, Outdoor recreation, Language tutor, Classic games, World news, Sports news, Knowledge and trivia, Fitness trainer, and Tech apps.
When you dive into a collection, you get a pretty standard Windows Phone app list.
Collections are curated by Microsoft employees and feature hand-picked apps. And they’re updated regularly.
Don’t have a Windows Phone 8 handset yet? You can also view these collections on the web version of the store.
In addition to a Collections tile in Apps and Games, you will also see a new Picks for you tile. This leads to a list of apps that is automatically generated as part of a new personal recommendations service that’s part of Windows Phone 8. (It’s available in Music, and in Local Scout too.) Powered by Bing, this list is based on items you’ve previously downloaded, what your friends have recommended on Facebook, as well as apps are typically get downloaded together and popular regional apps.
To use this feature, you need to enable personal recommendations first. You’ll get this screen the first time you try to access Picks for you here or elsewhere in Windows Phone 8.
I’ve yet to see any Facebook-related stuff in here, though I’ll keep looking. I suspect this only gets better when more people—especially more people I know—use it.
New payment options
While Windows Phone has always offered the ability to charge app, game and music purchases to your wireless bill (assuming your carrier supports it), Windows Phone 8 adds a new secure e-wallet feature, cunningly named Wallet, that can hold all of your credit cards and other payment options (like PayPal) and be used to make Windows Phone Store and in-app purchases.
In a separate post to the Windows Phone Developer Blog, Todd Brix explains some of the new developer-oriented features in the Windows Phone Store. If you’re not a developer, please keep reading: Many of these changes are important to know about because they change the experience in positive ways for users as well.
Live tile and trial options
When an app uses new Windows Phone 8 features like new live tile capabilities or a trial option (where you can grab a limited version of a paid app for free), those features are called out on its app details page (you’ll see a “Try” button for apps with a trial available) and in the Spotlight screen in Apps or Games.
Windows Phone 7.5 changes
The Windows Phone Store will still be labeled as Windows Phone Marketplace on Windows Phone 7.x, but users with older devices will still benefit from under-the-hood improvements to Bing Search and dynamically generated app lists like Top, Free, and New.
Finally, while this isn’t a Store feature, it’s worth pointing out that Microsoft is holding Windows Phone 8 Dev Camps around the US and internationally in the weeks and months ahead. Check out the list and sign up for a Dev Camp in your area. (Nothing in Boston yet.)