Date: December 26, 2010
App type: Entertainment
Publisher: Dmitry Lyalin
Release date: November 24, 2010
Requirements: Access to your data connection, location services, media library, web browser, and RunsUnderLock
This week's pick is riddled with conflicts of interest--I record a TWiT podcast, Windows Weekly, each week with Leo Laporte, and the author of this app, Dmitry Lyalin, is a friend of mine--but I'm OK with that, because TWiT for Windows Phone 7 is just an awesome app, and a great example of how the Metro UI can be used to create a customized, tailored experience that wonderfully surfaces the underlying personality of the brand in question. So I have no qualms about recommending this to anyone. It's just a great Windows Phone app.
If you're somehow not familiar, TWiT is Leo Laporte's electronic media venture, in which he and dozens of other talented hosts provide hundreds of hours of new audio and video content every week, generally, but not always, about technology. TWiT's podcasts--excuse me, netcasts--are very highly-rated, and in fact iTunes voted five TWiT recording into its top 10 video podcasts of 2010. (My own podcast was #18, not too shabby for the sole Windows-oriented show in Apple-land.)
You may be thinking, but Paul, Windows Phone already has integrated podcasting capabilities. Why would I need another app to bring me a subset of the available podcasts out there? But you'd only be thinking that if you'd never used Windows Phone's lackluster podcast functionality, which, among other things, doesn't even let you find and download new podcasts, or podcast episodes on-the-go, using the device's built-in wireless capabilities. Instead, you can only do this via the Zune PC software and sync those shows to the phone. That's ridiculous in this day and age, and a weird black mark for an otherwise exceptional portable platform.
But no worries, TWiT for Windows Phone comes to the rescue. This beautiful panorama app provides a great front-end to the TWiT stable of shows, with a highlights column that shows you the very latest shows heading up the UI.
Next to that is the customizable Your TWiT column, where you can mark podcasts and individual episodes as favorites so they'll always be close at hand.
Then there's the wonderful, graphical gallery view of all of the TWiT podcasts. From here, you can discover each of the shows, see or hear the latest episodes (streamed live from the web; take that built-in Podcasts functionality), share via email or Twitter, read the show notes for each episode, and discover related shows. Are you kidding me? This thing is fricking awesome.
There's also a fourth Resources column from which you can access the main TWiT web sites and learn how you can visit the TWiT Cottage in Petaluma, California for a live, in-person experience. (That it integrates with Windows Phone's built-in Bing Maps functionality is, of course, just the icing on the cake.)
I've spoken at length with Dmitry about the making of this app, and I know his experiences over the past several months learning the Windows Phone developer tools and APIs has triggered some fascinating internal discussions about the ways in which Microsoft can improve both for developers going forward. So even if you never experience this app, it's highly likely that his feedback will lead to some improvement that will at least indirectly benefit all Windows Phone developers and users going forward. It's all very exciting.
So kudos to Dmitry for a fine app, and for proving that one person can still make a difference in an age of mega-corporations stomping all over the little guys. This is a fantastic Windows Phone app, and one that should serve as a model for other similar apps going forward.