In less than two weeks, judges start reviewing design submissions for the Fast Track to the Mobile App contest—an international Windows Phone app design challenge. The competition, launched last month by Core77 and the Windows Phone design team, challenges designers to create work productivity solutions tailored for the Windows Phone. The contest theme addresses the work we often find ourselves doing on our ubiquitous little computers (i.e., smartphones) and asks designers to consider how we might do it more effectively.
Applicants design the face of the app—no coding or further app development necessary—and enter anything from sketches to full color comps along with an app description. We're looking for great ideas and designs—we'll help the best ideas get built. Part of the prizing is to encourage our winning and finalist designers to take these great ideas and, if they need, pair them up with experienced Windows Phone developers so that these apps don't just stay concepts, but are actually made and launched in the Windows Marketplace, with revenue going to the designers and developers who made them. We'll be following the development process as the winning designs are transformed from concept into reality, and are launched in the Windows Marketplace. Our hope is to get as many thoughtful, interesting designs that we can, launched and out into the app world.
The Windows Phone 7.5, Microsoft's most recent mobile product and platform, was released this September, and has been receiving uniform praise on its 500+ improvements from the Windows Phone 7. With the release of the new Windows 7.5 OS (codenamed Mango), and the clean, uncluttered Metro user interface, it's been given the critical "thumbs up" for doing a lot of things right, with the consensus being that it's a worthy addition to the mobile marketplace. But, Microsoft's ambitions for the phone requires that it grab a bigger chunk of users and app developers. Right now, Windows has some 30,000 apps available, nearly double their number from six months ago. Though the growth is impressive, for comparison's sake Android has roughly 250,000 and Apple, 500,000. While Windows claim of having quality over quantity might be true, apps and app development are measures of confidence in a device.
Since it's a recent release, conclusions about Microsoft's sales performance in the mobile market are in let's-wait-and-see mode. However, the phone's design and functionality opens itself to some unique app possibilities. Live tiles can be double-sided and have multiple uses, and App Connect links search with apps (e.g., searching for fast food might yield a delivery app alongside other resu...