After six amazing rounds and scores of great entries, here are our Windows 8, Windows Phone and Windows Azure developer finalists. They’re already reaping the benefits publishing on the Windows Store – and competing for the major prize: a trip to Microsoft TechEd 2013 on the Gold Coast. Our finalists are making tweaks ahead of judging and need your feedback! Check out these great apps.
Our Six Finalists — Download These Apps!
Round 1: Sort It
[Free; Download from the Windows Store]
Our round judges felt Sort It hit the education theme right between the eyes. The program meshes nicely with the Windows 8 interface, so no surprise that it was user friendly and intuitive.
Round 2: Touch Meds
Simply tap the windows phone to the NFC tag attached with medicine package, the App will popup the medicine’s details page and the information is read out using Text to Speech. It is also a standalone medicine managment App without NFC tag.
[Free; Download from the Windows Store]
Our round judges felt Touch Meds was a solid, professional looking app with plenty of polish and added functionality. The large, attractive font and easily identifiable icons also make it well suited to older users, who are a key demographic for this application.
Round 3: Action Cam
[$1.99; Download from the Windows Store]
Our round judges appreciated Action Cam’s clean interface, clever design and felt it had plenty of potential for the sports and adventuring markets. The video functionality was surprisingly quick and responsive which made it painless to use.
Round 4: Shared Whiteboard
All whiteboard projects are automatically saved to the cloud.
Our round judges were big fans of the Shared Whiteboard design and concept, which they found extremely likeable. Its simplistic interface and shareability make it a great tool for all age groups. Its linking and syncing functionality and use of charms were also solid.
Round 5: Fair Football Coach
The app can also be used to record and monitor substitution timings to facilitate fair game-time for the whole team when unlimited substitutions are permitted.
Our round judges were impressed by the app’s clean design and easy-to-use controls — fans of the video game Football Manager will feel right at home. The ability to keep all your team members’ contact info in one place is also very handy; including their favoured nicknames.
Round 6: Intellimax Analytics
Our round judges were impressed by the app’s sleek design and oodles of readily accessible data — clicking anywhere on the app brings up additional options and statistics. As you’d expect from a business application there were no bugs or glitches and all data is kept in a secure, managed and audited enterprise platform.
How To Craft A Strong User Experience
Technical design guru Shane Morris is the Creative Director at Automatic Studio, one of the final judges in this comp and all round good guy. He’s built Windows mobile apps for Qantas, NAB and Dimmi plus Windows 8 touch-enabled apps for Westpac, Webjet and NineMSN’s Jump-In.
Less is more, explains Shane: “Avoid the temptation to cram more features into your app assuming that will make it more popular. In our experience, an app that has a limited set of options, and does so with confidence, tends to be more appealing.”
“And if you’re not a confident designer, don’t get too ambitious too early. Stick to the Windows design language templates. If users open your app and see consistent styling and navigation, they’ll immediately be much more willing to explore.
“Navigation style is key to crafting an authentic app experience. Games can be different, but for regular apps – don’t be fooled that designing for Windows is just typography, white space and blocks of colour. There are helpful Windows 8 and Windows Phone guides on MSDN.
7 Great Tips for Sumitting Windows Store Apps
1. If you haven’t already done so, then register on Windows Store now. If appropriate, personal registrations are easier with less verification needed than a company registration.
2. Keep initial feature set simple and quality high, especially if this is your first app; you can always add additional features in future updates.
3. Read this “Preparing your App for Store Submission”
4. Ensure you have installed the latest Windows App Certification Kit (WACK) and other SDKs from Windows Software Development Kit (SDK) for Windows 8.
5. Ensure you run the “Windows App Certification Kit” tool before submitting your app to the Store.
6. Read the Windows App Store Guide. And read the “Avoiding common certification failures”
7. Allow time for you app to go through the App certification process. May take 5 to 7 working days.
Helpful Online Resources
LaLaNinja Developer Community:
If you’re still looking for help to get an app finished and into the store for publication, then check out Virtual #Appfest for an extra helping hand.
It’s a two-hour open virtual session, that allows you to ask all the questions you want to ask, leap any coding hurdles, and get your app published.