Mango users might not have recovered just yet from the blow Microsoft dealt them by announcing that Windows Phone 7 devices won’t be getting the Apollo update, but apparently the Windows Phone developer community still has enough passion left to come up with an app like W Phone 8. If you followed our coverage of the Windows Phone 8 event held last month, you might already know that one of the best changes expected to be released in the Apollo update is the revamped Start screen. Users will be able to resize live tiles to three levels (small, medium and large) and most of the tiles will be made double-sided. So, what has the W Phone 8 app got to do with all that? In fact, it has got everything to do with the WP8 Start screen! The app is a simulator of sorts that comes with a secondary Start screen having semi-functional tiles. Not only that, you can adjust the size and positions of all the pinned tiles just the way it will work in WP8, and there’s even a nice collection of accent colors to go with it.
When you launch the W Phone 8 app for the first time, you will be presented with a prearranged screen full of live tiles, having varying dimensions. A few of these tiles actually work, but we will come back to that a little later. If you are not satisfied with the theme color of this secondary (we just can’t bring ourselves to call it fake) Start screen, locate the Settings icon in the grid. Tapping Settings will take you to a collection of Accent Colors, and you can choose any of them as the theme for the app’s Start screen. Now that you have assigned your favorite color to the tiles, you are ready to enjoy the best feature of the Apollo Start screen; resizable tiles! To do that, tap and hold over any tile and in addition to the usual unpin button, a new arrow will appear on the tile as well (in the bottom right corner). Hitting this arrow button will let you change the size of each tile to small, medium or full width (like the calendar app in WP7). The full width mode is only available for some of the apps, at least in W Phone 8.
The following apps are installed on the W Phone 8 Start screen.
- Phone: Takes the user to the People hub’s contact list.
- Message: Opens a new text message in the real Messaging hub.
- Email: Tap this to compose a new mail.
- Settings: For accent changing, as discussed above.
- Marketplace: Through this tile you can go to the real Marketplace, and pin any tile to the W Phone 8 Start screen (although tapping the new tile will only take you to the app’s Marketplace page even after it has been installed on your WP7).
- Me: Lets you post any update to your accounts via the real Me section in the People hub.
- Internet Explorer: Really opens the IE in your WP7.
All other tiles are either non-functional, or just direct you to each app’s respective Marketplace page. W Phone 8 might be more of a novelty app rather than something actually useful, but we love it nonetheless. So, if you have been wondering why the announcement of Windows Phone 8 has caused such a stir, do give W Phone 8 a try. It is available in the Marketplace for free, and can be downloaded from the following link.