App type: News & Weather
Publisher: Penton Media
Release date: May 14, 2011
Phone features used: Data connection, media library, web browser
This one is so loaded with conflicts of interest, I'll just leave it up to you to understand why I must, this once, promote my own official mobile app. The first of a planned series of Paul Thurrott mobile apps (iPhone and Android versions are coming soon, I'm promised), Paul Thurrott Pocket Tech for Windows Phone is, as we say, "like having Paul Thurrott in your pocket." And while I'm not sure why you'd want that, exactly, the app is actually pretty awesome, especially if you're interested in keeping up with the tech news that I filter through the SuperSite for Windows, Windows IT Pro, Windows Phone Secrets, and the Windows Weekly podcast.
Paul Thurrott Pocket Tech was programmed by Dmitry Lyalin, who's also responsible for the excellent TWiT mobile app. I wanted to call it Pocket Paul--as in, "Is that a Paul in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?"--but more prudent voices at Penton won that particular battle. But I did have a lot of input over the design and insisted on making sure the app offered readers and listeners something unique, something that wasn't available elsewhere on the web. And there is indeed an "Exclusive" section of the app, discussed below, that includes content you can't find anywhere else.
So, how is this wonderful app structured, you're wondering?
Paul Thurrott Pocket Tech is designed to take advantage of the Metro UI, and as such it offers a multi-column layout in which you flick from left to right (or in reverse) to view individual screens, or panels. The panels are laid out like so:
Featured. Here, you'll find what I think of as "the top stories" on the SuperSite for Windows, or what corresponds to the five promo graphics on the upper part of the right column on the web site's home page. As with those graphics, each article is denoted by its own promo graphics, though the mobile app's promo graphics are bigger and feature a nice title overlay. There are also more of them: ten in the app, vs. five on the site. It's called "Featured" because that's what these articles really are, articles that are important enough to be featured on the site (and in the app) with promo graphics.
Recent. Here, you'll find an aggregated list of all of the content I've created across three separate entities: the SuperSite for Windows, Paul's SuperSite Blog, and Windows IT Pro (which includes commentaries and print magazine articles). On the web, these things aren't all made available in the same place, yet, but we're working on that. But the other advantage of this mobile presentation is that you can choose which of those sources to include in the Recent column. So if you want to see content from the SuperSite and the SuperSite Blog, but not Windows IT Pro, you can configure it that way.
Exclusive. This is the exclusive content I mentioned previously. Going forward, I'll be posting short (usually Twitter-length) posts to a hidden blog that will surface, for now, only in this mobile app. My goal is at least 3-6 posts a day, Monday to Friday, and this is something I intend to keep doing going forward. Some of these posts are simple text declarations, others reference a hyperlink so you can tap to learn more.
Phone. This column contains all of the content from my (currently separate) Windows Phone Secrets blog, which I used to write about the making of the book and now keep going to advocate the use of Windows Phone and continue the conversation with other Windows Phone fans.
Podcast. Here you'll find links to all of my recent Windows Weekly podcasts, which I record each Thursday with Leo Laporte. You can play (stream) each episode right in the app, and choose between audio and video versions.
For those parts of the app where you tap on an article headline or promo graphic, the entire article, complete with screenshots and other graphics, loads right in the app. This is true of external links too (including links provided via the Exclusive section). So the app is a one-stop shop for all my daily work.
Full disclosure: While the app is relatively cheap at $1.99, I'd prefer it to be free, too, so please understand I've fought, and will continue to fight, that battle. (Penton originally wanted to charge $5 for it.) We're looking into a free ad-based version as an alternative.