Microsoft has released a new Windows Phone app that lets users search for Windows Phone versions of the most popular iOS and Android apps, and suggests alternatives if they’re not available.
But the unusual twist is a feature that lets users send messages to the developers of absent apps, appealing to them to make their apps available on Windows Phone.
The app, called “Where’s My App?” was released over the weekend, with a core set of search and recommendation features.
For example, a search for Instagram brings up a set of highly rated “best alternatives” including Instance and WPGram. A search for Flipboard touts the app as “coming soon” and links to the recent announcement by Nokia that the popular newsreader app will be arriving on Windows Phone soon along with Vine and Path.
The messaging function is included in a “request app” feature accessed from the toolbar at the bottom of the screen. As described by Microsoft, the “request app” feature lets users “send requests to app developers, encouraging them to develop for Windows Phone.”
The feature seems a little sketchy to me — it’s not clear how these requests are delivered, for example — but assuming it’s legit, it’s a notable case of Microsoft trying to mobilize its own users to make the case to these app developers. I’ve asked a Microsoft representative for more details on the feature and how it works.
Microsoft previously released an Android app called Switch to Windows Phone with similar search and recommendation features.
“Where’s My App” for Windows Pone still needs some work. I’ve encountered at least two weird error messages in my initial usage, and the limitation to the top iOS and Android apps means that you won’t necessarily find a reference to your own favorite app. A search for my favorite radio app, Stitcher, doesn’t bring back any results or suggestions, for example.
But if you’re already using Windows Phone, the “Where’s My App?” app is at least worth checking out.