Another Windows Phone App Bites the Dust
Well, almost. Sports Calendar was one of the first apps I downloaded in 2011. This app is unique to the Windows Phone Store in that it provides schedules, including playoffs, for every major North American Sports League, as well as US Collegiate sports, Tennis, Golf, Racing and International Soccer. Pretty much everything. You can see what event are occurring today with a single click. And you can add Favorite teams, so you can see what’s important to you. One nice feature was a game alert that you could get for your favorites, popping up a toast 10 to 60 minutes before game time. Unfortunately, that feature no longer works (although the rest of the app does). You see, the app has not been undated since April 2011, nearly three years.
I had some conversations with the developer when it was first introduced and he was frustrated that Microsoft did not offer the necessary APIs to make his app as feature rich as their iPhone and Android versions. Specifically, as I recall, the ability to add game schedule information to your calendar. I believe that is now available to developers (I can do it with two tasks apps I have tested) but I suppose Unnamed Applications, Inc. has moved on to other projects. Not having a trial and originally costing $2.99 ($1.29 today) didn’t help make the app popular. I did my best with a review at the time, but one review makes not a successful app. While Windows Phone growth has been steady, it’s not hard for good apps like Sports Calendar to get lost in the Store quagmire shortly after being released.
Problem here is despite there being more than 200,000 apps in the Windows Phone Store, nothing even comes close to Sports Calendar. That makes this app essential. As essential as all those silly Social apps that Microsoft kisses butt for. Don’t believe me. Look what you get when you search for sportscalendar, or sports calendar, or sportsschedule, or sports schedule:
Nothing but a bunch of one off offerings, specific to a individual sport. Or providing schedules for games today and tomorrow. Pitiful. Maybe I am only one of a few people who thinks it’s easier to use Sports Calendar rather than navigating to a major sports league web page, drilling down to an individual team, waiting for all the ads and other colorful crap to load, finding the link for schedules, waiting for more crap to load, and then scrolling down to the games on the schedule for next week. Probably won’t tell me what networks the game will be aired on (like Sports Calendar does), but I can navigate to another website for that, right. Wrong. Apps are supposed to simplify your life, and that’s what Sports Calendar does. Sad that apps like this have fallen away from Windows Phone, not because of a lack of functionality. But I believe because of a lack of exposure. Unless you’re specifically searching for this app, your unlikely to find it. Cause even though there are 10 times as many Windows Phone users today as there were in early 2011, there are also 10 times as many apps. And most not worth a mention.
Some other lost and nearly lost apps:
SportsScores – This was one of my favorite app that was released early on, but has since faded away. Provided schedules and scores for upcoming, current and recently played games. But their best feature was a Live tile where you could add up to four favorite teams (two on each side of the tile). The tile would show an upcoming game or in-game status. Tile was updated every minute using their push server. It was easy to keep track of my favorite teams. But push servers don’t run for free. Damn, I miss that app. And nothing before or since has come close to providing the same experience.
Mehdoh – One of the best and most popular Twitter apps on the platform today, almost vanished for good a year or so ago. But after the outcry, hearing the app was going away, the developer had a change of heart. And has since invested a lot of time and effort into keeping Mehdoh at the top if its game. What a loss had it gone away for good.
Package Tracker – This is another app that nearly bit the dust. But at the final hour the developer changed his mind and instead created a companion app for Windows 8. I would be lost without this app on all my devices today which syncs and updates magically.
Pro Sports Scores – Another app that was released in 2010, and still exists today. But the developer got tired of waiting for the Windows Phone community to evolve and decided to create 4 separate Major League Sports apps, all ad supported, rather than continuing to develop his paid (now free) premier app (the beta he created and never released two years ago was excellent). The apps are driven by a push server that updates live game info every 10 seconds. How can you not like that.
I don’t have answers on how to keep Windows Phone developers engaged while the platform continues to grow. But I do, as usual, have an idea. It’s no secret that only a small percentage of apps in any store are worth installing for most users. But finding those needles in the haystack can be cumbersome. Why not some kind of a Gold Star Certified Windows Phone App program, where apps can be singled out and filtered, giving users a compressed view of the overloaded store. Maybe 1,000 apps to sort through rather than 200,000+. That keeps the idiots happy. You know the ones that think 300,000 apps are better than 200,000. But also helps to improve the user experience for everyone. And keeps the best developers making their already good apps even better as a result of more exposure. Which equates to more downloads. Sure, it implies that there are only a small percentage of “good” apps in the Store, but is that really a secret. Only talking apps, not games here. That’s an entirely different animal.
Not sure how to pull this off economically and effectively for Microsoft. But maybe a 100 or so volunteer “certified” reviewers (they get to keep reviewed apps) who get to play with 5-10 apps a week. Send the same app to 2-3 reviewers and if they “all” agree independently, it gets a gold star. If anyone disagrees cause it lacks usefulness, functionality, etc. then nada. But forward the developer the negative comments, corrective action, so they could try again at another time. The volunteer reviewers could offer suggestions for evaluation, as well as using the up and coming section of the Store. Could probably all be managed by 2 or 3 low-mid level Microsoft employees, using some basement office in Redmond. Their salaries would be paid by increased downloads of the best apps. Not to mention the good press and good will.
I volunteer. How about you.
I would volunteer without a doubt. Anything I can do for the Windows Phone community of both users and developers.