The Marketplace has gotten a few tweaks since we last saw it. It’s organized into four main sections – applications, games, music and the LG apps store. A fifth section called Updates shows up when one of your installed apps has received an update – there's an Update all button, which will save you the hassle of updating each app individually.
The Application section starts with a featured app, then it’s on to the categories (including all and free), followed by the top apps, a list of new ones and a longer list of featured apps.
The Games section is divided into Xbox Live, Top, New, Free and finally, Categories which has the games sorted into genres.
The Music section is actually the Zune Marketplace. Its structure is similar to the Application section. First, a featured artist of the week, three more featured artists, then a list of new releases, top albums and genres.
Genres themselves are separated into sections too – new releases and top artists/albums/songs/playlists. For each song, you get a 30 second preview (same as iTunes). If you have a Zune pass, you can stream the entire song, just like you would on a Zune player (it’s 15 US dollars a month).
Search is available for the Marketplace but right now it pulls together search results from all sections – so, songs get mixed in with the apps and games. This is a little annoying since you don’t need song results while searching for an app and vice versa. But still, it’s not a major problem.
The number of apps is growing fast (it passed the 1000 apps in three weeks) and some key apps are already available – like the official Twitter app for example. The option to install a trial version for a game or app has been added and it’s very convenient – how much you get to play depends on the individual developer.
Anyway, each app will be listed with a short description, a rating and user reviews, and a few screenshots. If the app can use something that can potentially breach your privacy (e.g. location information) the Marketplace will let you know.
It’s not as comprehensive as the Android Market (which lists just about everything the app can use) but on the upside it only warns you about the important things.
Big downloads (anything north of 40MB) need a Wi-Fi connection to work. Alternatively, you can download those jumbo apps using the desktop Zune software.
As for the LG apps store, it currently contains only 6 apps, all of which are free. The plan for now is to populate it with exclusive, free apps. Better still – for 60 days, you’d be able to download 10 apps worth 30 US dollars, with new apps replacing the old after that period runs out (you get to keep what you’ve downloaded though). Apps developed by LG will be available for free – if you buy the Optimus 7, you’ll never experience a shortage of apps (and very rarely have to pay for one).
The interface is the same and each page bears the LG logo, but will show related content from the general Marketplace too, which might show a better alternative outside the LG apps store.
Xbox Live is at the heart of the Games hub. It carries over many features from the Xbox – from your avatar to your scores and achievements. The Spotlight feature is available too (it shows info on new stuff) and also Requests – which shows you game invites from your friends.
Anyway, the games themselves are housed in the Collection section. Nothing much to see here, the installed games are arranged in a square grid and there’s a Get more games shortcut, which launches the Marketplace.
Not all games support Xbox Live – the ones that do are in the corresponding section in the Marketplace. We didn’t have many games to test, but the beefy hardware requirements ensure that Windows Phone 7 handsets won’t have any problems with complex games.