The Windows Store recently hit the 35,000 apps milestone. As the App Store grows, locating quality apps for our ever complex and increasing tasks becomes a lot more difficult. To make life easier for our readers, we have collated 16 must have apps on your Windows 8/RT device. These app choices range from productivity tools to games to apps for popular hobbies. Join us as we dig into Windows 8 and its “formerly known as Metro” influenced apps. (App titles are also links to the app download page int he Windows Store)
Nextgen Reader (A Google reader client)
NextGen reader is the premiere Google reader client on windows phone. Loaded with tremendous features, NextGen is a visually appealing app that truly represents what a Windows 8 inspired application should look like. NextGen spots two intuitive ways to navigate your subscriptions. A column like listing on one hand or a tiled interface for a specific subscription rich with pictures and text excerpts. With Robust options for how to sync, the Functional and beautiful interface and the fact that the application is completely free*, nextgen ranks amongst the best RSS readers in the Windows store.
Windows users who are familiar with the “Metro” phrase are very familiar with this breakout twitter client on windows 7. The developers of Metrotwit have also made a Windows 8 friendly version. Like any other twitter client, MetroTwit meets the most basic needs of the average twitter user in yet another great representation of the Microsoft windows 8 “Formerlly known as metro” ideology. MetroTwit adapts to all three windows 8 orientation scenarios. Holding your device in landscape mode? You are visited with a three column layout. Flip it to portrait? You get two columns. Snap the app and you get a one column list of your pinned categories. These pinned categories can be pretty much anything in the twitter universe; add profiles/lists/hashtags to the home page. Pin an option permanently to the right furthermost column and you are good to go. The stalker types would want to know that this doesn’t allow you read someone else’s mentions.
One note to many is the ultimate note taking app. Available only on Windows PC, Windows Phone, iOS, Android, Symbian, the web and now Windows 8/RT, one note is a robust note taking solutions with stellar support with other Microsoft services. One note possesses a similar 3 column interface with next gen reader. Offers numerous editing options (thanks to its tie in to the Microsoft Office suite) and is a nifty first party app. Create notebooks, sections, pages, and even subpages. Organize your life. One note also has stellar pen input support, a feature that was shown in detail by Steve Ballmer recently at the Microsoft BUILD conference.
Skype for Windows 8 is a must have for the average Joe and it performs all Skype tasks as expected; make and receive phone calls (Skype, mobile etc). group video call support and it is always running in the background without any major hit to your battery life. Snap skype and it converts itself into a miniature version akin to what people are used to on their Windows 7 desktop and Mac devices. Skype is still far from perfect as it is plagued with crashes and can be buggy at times especially on Windows RT devices. It nonetheless does what it was intended to do.
Xbox smartglass is the ultimate X-Box companion application for your Windows 8 device especially if you are using a tablet. Smartglass connects all of your media content across all your devices and your X-Box. I had written about a Smartglass scenario in my previous post about living with the Microsoft surface. Smartglass is also available on the Android and iOS platforms in addition to Windows Phone.
There are a myriad of games available on the windows 8 platform but one is worthy of mention; Wordament is a pretty interesting take on Scrabble. The idea of the game is simple. Create as many words as possible in the time allotted from the 4×4 grid of letters given to you. You can play with friends indirectly thanks to its integration with the X-Box Live service. Locate a friend’s Xbox live tag and become frenemies. After every game, see how well you scored against friends and the thousands of other gamers that participate worldwide. This fun and addictive game is also available on iOS devices.
Tune in Radio is a great radio app that gives you access to hundreds of thousands of web, FM and AM radio stations worldwide. TuneIn is a popular radio application that is most welcome on the Windows 8 platform. Unique to the Windows platform is the ability to pin specific radio stations to your start screen for quick and easy access. Most of our readers are either in Nigeria or Nigerians in the diaspora, TuneIn gets you all your local Nigerian radio fix and of course radio stations far and wide. This is a must have application on all Windows 8 devices. TuneIn has a robust OS support library including iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Symbian, Blackberry, Bada and a host of others.
Bring out the inner wine mixing connoisseur in you with this app. The cocktail flow app, available also on other major platforms (Android and iOS) is a great app for mixing cocktails. This pretty app also allows you specify ingredients you have and then spills out what possible combination you can come up with. Are you a vodka person or a whiskey person? There are numerous possible mixes you can get based on many possible criteria.
All recipes is for the cook in you. All recipe comes with over 40,000 recipes for free in a highly photo rich interface. Almost every possible meal is available on there and if you would really love to watch the steps to making your next Jamie Oliver inspired masterpiece, you can grab the all recipes video app with video walk throughs on how to make your meal. Like most Windows 8 apps, you can Pin specific meals right on your home screen. The image below has Cocktails from the Cocktail flow and All recipes on the start screen.
Skyscanner is an impressive flight search app. Unlike many other flight services, skyscanner adds a nifty feature of giving you a practical view into flight prices over an entire month. The skyscanner app is just as feature rich as its web counterpart with features like sort by flight, duration etc. The interface is highly intuitive and visually appealing. Sky scanner is free in the marketplace.
Still living in the 90s and are desperate to relive those memories of rescuing the princess from Bowser? Snes8x is a Snes emulator for Windows 8. Locate ROMS from the internet, load them up on Snes8x and you are playing away. Snes8x also comes with the ability to save your current state should you choose to want to pick up your gaming on a later date.
Google’s app is a basic hub into your Google services. Although it is more of a web browser shell, it makes accessing your Google services much easier. What a browser shell implies is that you will not be getting notifications for new emails or the fancy share features that come with other real apps in Windows 8. All you get is a gateway to Google’s services on the web. The app also allows for voice search and is free in the marketplace.
Advanced English dictionary is a basic dictionary app with over 200,000 words. Although its word lists are limited, it has the added advantage of being localized, in other words the words are on your computer and not an internet search. AED also works with the search charm making it almost instantaneous for you to go from another app into searching for whatever new and interesting word you discover. AED includes a pronunciation option allow you to listen to how a word is pronounced in both British and American English.
Bing my lockscreen is a nice little app that lets you use any of the great images put up on bing.com as your lock screen image. You simply open the app, select an image and set as your lock screen or save it to your computer. Done. The app does have a few goodies such as the ability to have it update your lockscreen from intervals ranging from a few minutes to daily. It also allows you specify what region/Location you want your Bing images pulled from (Bing images vary from region to region). Finally, if you own multiple windows 8 devices, having this app on one machine allows for the images to be updated across all your windows 8 device. This can be deactivate in the windows 8 settings menu.
Milligram is an Instagram app for windows 8. View, like, follow, comment on pictures of your instagram friends and followers. This app is simple and significantly reduces the number of clicks by adopting an intuitive user interface. Remember that instagram does not permit picture uploads to its service outside of its dedicated Android and iPhone apps so don’t get your hopes up. You cannot upload pictures to instagram using this app.
Although windows 8 comes with the familiar Windows 7 desktop interface and all your file management tools, sometimes you want to stick to the metro interface when sorting through your file system. This is where firebrick comes in. Firebrick is a windows 8 file manager with many added extra features such as full access to your dropbox, skydrive and google drive directories. It allows you move files across all these services and also includes some social network integration amongst which are; facebook, twitter and flickr. You have networked computers? Filebrick has you covered with remote folder access. Its developer threw in an extra bone of an in built media player for your music and videos. You almost never need to leave this app to get anything done.