Nokia App Highlights curated store revealed

Nokia's own preloaded Windows Phone apps, Drive and Music, are just the start of the company's software push on the new Lumia range. In addition, there'll be a curated app environment not yet demonstrated at Nokia World; Keith Varty, Head of Ecosystem and Services at Nokia, told SlashGear that App Highlights will be a tile on the Windows Phone homescreen, featuring the company's picks of the best WP7 software for new and established users. Read on for more details.

App Highlights, Varty explained, will be both present on the homescreen – it's not yet clear whether it will be a Live Tile, dynamically updating to flag up new download options, or otherwise – and as a category in the Marketplace on Nokia Windows Phones. There will be three categories, including "Featured" apps and "Starter" apps, described by Varty as "what we think is the key content for our consumers."

Rather than simply flagging up the top paid and free downloads, or the best rated apps, as current app stores do, Nokia will leverage its local level expertise to populate the App Highlights categories. The company already has people whose job is to merchandize the stores, Varty pointed out, and calls upon their expertise at a country-by-country level to pick out the best content for each marketplace. Nokia has already used a similar system for its Nokia Music service, using local experts to highlight what music is topical in each location.

"We're in many more markets than some of our competitors" Varty highlighted, suggesting that despite its heft Nokia is a "very local business." Sourcing content from local providers is just part of that. It will also better differentiate Nokia Windows Phones from those of rivals; HTC has its own Hub store, but it's not as holistically integrated into the Marketplace as Nokia's App Highlights system will be.

We also asked Varty about the Nokia Launchpad offer made to developers back in February, promising them a free Nokia Windows Phone when available (along with, at the time, a free E7). Varty couldn't confirm today exact details of that scheme – though he did say that, if Nokia had promised it, they'd be following up on it – but pointed out that in a recent developer event 150 coders were promised Lumia 800 handsets. We'll follow up when we have more on the Launchpad deal.

More on Nokia's new Windows Phones in our Lumia 800 and Lumia 710 hands-on.