Here's our pick of the most useful and interesting apps from Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 Marketplace hub

The Windows Phone Marketplace now has more than a 1,000 apps for handsets running its latest mobile platform, Windows Phone 7.

In alphabetical order, here's what stood out for us, in usefulness, innovation, and in exploiting the unique qualities of Microsoft's innovative mobile user interface. (Or access Marketplace via Microsoft Zune software on your PC.)

Adobe Reader

Developer: Adobe Systems
Category: Productivity
Free

Windows Phone 7 doesn't yet support Adobe Flash for video, but this version of Adobe Reader (9.0) lets your phone open PDF files from email, the web and the phone. Supports full range of PDF specifications, and multi-touch gestures, in portrait and landscape views.

AuthAnvil Softokens

Developer: Scorpion Software
Category: business
Free

Use this app to turn your Windows Phone into a two-factor authentication device. It creates unique one-time passwords for logging into stuff like Windows servers, and provides credentials for VPNs, WLANs and web applications, including Outlook web access and SharePoint. Required: corporate subscription to the vendor's service.

NEXT PAGE: Congress

  1. Useful, innovative and unique
  2. Congress
  3. Fast Message
  4. GoVoice
  5. Loopt
  6. Netflix
  7. Shazam
  8. WeatherBug

Here's our pick of the most useful and interesting apps from Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 Marketplace hub

Congress

Developer: Sunlight Labs
Category: productivity
Free

Talk about timely, given the new faces in Washington. The Congress app is almost literally a 'window' into the US Congress: using your location, it can list your federal legislators by your location, by state, by name or by committee. Each one has a profile, with photo and other info. It tracks the official's tweets, or tweets about the official and it creates a list of linkable relevant videos. It's currently only available for US users.
Photo: Architect of the Capitol.

eBay

Developer: eBay
Category: Lifestyle
Free

Rated 4 out of 5 stars by users. The app completely adapts the full eBay experience to the Windows Phone 7 user interface, apparently successfully: users repeatedly praise its speed and functionality. A few say some navigation is 'rough around the edges'.

NEXT PAGE: Fast Message

  1. Useful, innovative and unique
  2. Congress
  3. Fast Message
  4. GoVoice
  5. Loopt
  6. Netflix
  7. Shazam
  8. WeatherBug

Here's our pick of the most useful and interesting apps from Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 Marketplace hub

Fast Message

Devloper: Freier Niels
Category: productivity
$0.99 (62p); free trial

This app creates and saves templates for SMS and emails. You can pick a template and send it, instead of typing, yet again, 'In a meeting, call you back later'.

Flickr Manager

Developer: Asim Goheer
Category: photos
Free

User reviews on Zune praise the clean user interface, ease of use, and wealth of features to fully manage your Flickr account and photos. Some say it can be slow in viewing pics.

NEXT PAGE: GoVoice

  1. Useful, innovative and unique
  2. Congress
  3. Fast Message
  4. GoVoice
  5. Loopt
  6. Netflix
  7. Shazam
  8. WeatherBug

Here's our pick of the most useful and interesting apps from Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 Marketplace hub

GoVoice

Developer: Nick Yu
Category: social
$2.99 (£1.88); free trial

GoVoice is a third-party app for Google Voice: you first create a Google Voice account, then GoVoice on your phone displays the Google Voice in-box, with call history, transcribed voicemails, etc. Reviews are generally good, currently with a rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars. Some of the complaints: slow at times, no background notifications currently, scrolling is occasionally problematic for some users. As Google Voice is currently only available in the US, it's not available to UK users.

Group Text (apparently formerly called Text Message Secretary)

Developer: LmOffice
Category: productivity
$1.99 (£1.25)

Create and organise groups and contacts for sending SMS text message en masse, including pre-defined messages; create as many groups as you want, using as many of your contacts needed; groups can be colour coded for visual organisation. BrightKite is another group texting app, free.

NEXT PAGE: Loopt

  1. Useful, innovative and unique
  2. Congress
  3. Fast Message
  4. GoVoice
  5. Loopt
  6. Netflix
  7. Shazam
  8. WeatherBug

Here's our pick of the most useful and interesting apps from Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 Marketplace hub

Loopt

Developer: Loopt
Category: Social
Free

Loopt uses phone locations and identity to create a network of your friends on Loopt: you can see who's nearby, and 'what's happening' via this social network. The app's live tile lets you see whether you have updates (friends sharing their location, commenting etc) without having to log in.

Mental Paper

Developer: NTkachov
Category: productivity
Free trial: unlimited, supported by ads; purchased app, for $0.99 (62p), eliminates the ads.

This is one app that really needs to be seen, and tried out: the developer bills this as the 'thinking man's note pad', a free-form note-taking user interface, with rudimentary copy/paste [take that, Microsoft!]. You can start typing anywhere on a Mental Paper 'page' and build lists, tables, check lists, trees and other formats. It seems to let you type thoughts almost randomly, keeps them separate, and lets you expand them by adding a checkbox, or other feature to further unpack the idea.

NEXT PAGE: Netflix

  1. Useful, innovative and unique
  2. Congress
  3. Fast Message
  4. GoVoice
  5. Loopt
  6. Netflix
  7. Shazam
  8. WeatherBug

Here's our pick of the most useful and interesting apps from Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 Marketplace hub

Netflix

Developer: Netflix
Category: entertainment
Free

Your Netflix account for your Windows Phone 7 handset, including the ability to instantly watch streaming TV shows and movies from Netflix. It's part of the Netflix unlimited membership. Zune reviewers praise the "cool," easy-to-navigate pivots, 'flawless' video performance, good performance over both Wi-Fi and cellular connections. Currently not available for UK users, sadly.

PC Connector

Developer: RBear.net
Category: tools
$4.99 (£3.14); free trial

You need to add a client to your PC, as well as this app on your Windows Phone: then you can download/upload files remotely, email files from your PC, manage multiple downloads from your PC and the web. One user, in the reviews section, says the app works exactly as advertised but is not for the faint of heart: he had to fiddle with the configuration of his home wireless router to get it working. And the app's user interface is 'weird' but 'it works'.

NEXT PAGE: Shazam

  1. Useful, innovative and unique
  2. Congress
  3. Fast Message
  4. GoVoice
  5. Loopt
  6. Netflix
  7. Shazam
  8. WeatherBug

Here's our pick of the most useful and interesting apps from Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 Marketplace hub

Shazam

Developer: Shazam Entertainment Ltd
Category: entertainment
Free

Formerly also on Windows Mobile, Shazam lets you use your phone's microphone to 'hear' a music track, even a song on a movie soundtrack. Shazam then identifies it almost instantly, and can link you to Microsoft's Zune music and media service for detailed info, purchase and download.

Twitter

Developer:Twitter
Category: social
Version 1.0.0.0
Free

At this writing, there are about two dozen reviews of this app and 17 give it a 5-star rating. It's generally praised for performance, wealth of features, the clean Windows Phone 7 interface.


NEXT PAGE: YouTube

  1. Useful, innovative and unique
  2. Congress
  3. Fast Message
  4. GoVoice
  5. Loopt
  6. Netflix
  7. Shazam
  8. WeatherBug

Here's our pick of the most useful and interesting apps from Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 Marketplace hub

WeatherBug

Developer: WeatherBug
Category: News and weather
Version 1.0.0.0
Free

Puts a local weather summary on your home screen, updated immediately via the Windows Phone 7 push capability, with such information as severe weather alerts. Rated 4 out of 5 stars by users who like that the 'live tile' approach keeps the information current on the phone's start screen. Some said it can be slow starting, and when switching between cities for information.

YouTube

Developer: Microsoft
Category: Music & video
Free

There's a debate whether this is really an app: essentially, you click on the icon, and it redirects you to the YouTube mobile site for mobile users, through the greatly improved mobile Internet Explorer. Users slam it as 'lame' but it's won 3 stars for doing "the job of bringing YouTube to Windows Phone" and for good streaming performance.

See also: In pictures: Windows Phone 7 features and apps

  1. Useful, innovative and unique
  2. Congress
  3. Fast Message
  4. GoVoice
  5. Loopt
  6. Netflix
  7. Shazam
  8. YouTube