Apps, apps, apps – they simply rule the world, don’t they? Every single operating system now has its very own app store and you can pretty much download an app for anything these days. Need an app to make notes on? Sorted. Want an app to access one of your favourite news sources? It probably has one. Want to stream movies on the move? There are apps and services for that. Apps have quite literally changed the way everybody accesses and consumes content and media online, and whichever way you look at it, apps are the future of computing both on mobile devices and also desktops, as evidenced through the newly released – and cross device compatible – Windows 8.
So, have you have finally decided to bite the bullet and download Windows 8 on to your existing machine or buy a new machine which ships with it out of the box? If you have I congratulate you on this feat; as put forth by many people Windows 8 is a huge leap forward from Windows 7 and at the heart of Microsoft’s latest operating system is a new Windows desktop ecosystem centred around apps. As with any app store such as the Google Play Store or Apple’s App Store, though, finding the best apps can sometimes be difficult with review ratings not always telling the full story. Here, today, I aim to showcase to you avid readers 20 Windows 8 apps which you simply must check out and download.
I have used and downloaded all 20 apps listed below and to prove my worth (need I have to!) the screenshot above is of my very desktop in all its glory. So without further ado, let’s begin!
Windows 8 by default uses Bing as its search engine, however for those who prefer Google (I do, vastly!) Google Search is an essential application. Much like any other Google Search app, the Windows 8 variant allows you to search online as you would through a web browser in app. It also keeps it own history, offers access to Google Chrome apps, and supports voice search. Nice!
Tweetro was one of a few Twitter applications I downloaded to Windows 8 upon install, with this pick being my favourite. It features a really great looking UI with a ‘start tweeting’ box slap bang on the left for immediate communication. Upon launch, it also tell’s you of any Twitter related notifications that have occurred since you last logged in. I have used this app a lot lately.
This app needs no introduction; Skype is an advanced instant messaging platform with a wealth of excellent features including video, voice chat amongst others. The Windows 8 app lists all of your ‘buddies’ and contacts in a grid layout likened to the tile interface, and allows you to add favourites and get in touch with those online. It is an essential app for those who use Skype often through the desktop.
Sticky Notes 8
Desktop sticky notes in Windows 7 were a hot feature and Windows 8 still rocks this functionality, however the Sticky Notes 8 app takes this to the next level by allowing you to create multiple notes to yourself and pin them all to your virtual board within an app on Windows 8 UI. You can even import and export notes to and from folders. Note making made easy indeed!
I have been a subscriber to Netflix since it launched in the UK and for 6 per month you get access to hundreds of movies available to stream any time. I personally prefer this service to LoveFilm, and the Windows 8 app follows on from other platforms such as the PlayStation 3 by listing all movies by type. Watching Breaking Bad, Lost or the latest movie is a breeze with Netflix.
Film on TV
Prior to Windows 8 I had never used this service however now that I have, I am convinced it is a keeper. You can watch TV as it airs and it includes loads (and I mean loads) of channels for absolutely nothing. You can watch BBC 1, BBC 2, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 plus a lot of channels you would get on Freeview such as Pick TV, E4 and Dave. This service streams TV over WiFi / 3G, so an internet connection is essential.
I have Sky News installed on my smartphone (a HTC One X, if you must know) as well as my tablet (an iPad, FYI). Much like the apps on these devices, the Windows 8 variant allows you to keep up to date with the very latest stories from around the world as well as stream Sky News Live from within the app. Some may not like Sky’s news coverage, however for those who do, this app is fantastic.
With the Windows 8 BBC News app you can keep up to date with the very latest in-depth UK news as well as news from around the world. It has to be noted (or must in fact be noted) that this app is a third party application, and is not associated with the BBC. Regardless, it does a good job of pulling content out of the main website and offering it up in an app tidy package.
Every technology enthusiast will have heard of engadget and their Windows 8 app does a good job of offering up their latest stories including news and reviews to the end user. Much can be said about engadget and their coverage of products / bias towards certain products and manufacturers, however engadget is a trusted and reliable news source that I regularly catch up with.
Wow. That is one word to describe Cheezeburger, who’s networ of blogs provide immense entertainment all over the world. With their Windows 8 app (I prefer this version to any other platform variant), you can catch up with Meme Base, Cheezeburger, Fail Blog, ROFL Razzi and the Daily What as well as all other smaller websites easily. The app lays out all of your options in square tiles. Inspiration from the operating system it is on, I say.
Popular Science is a fantastic source of news for those who like new technology and science. Not just confined to print, the Popsci Windows 8 app by default offers an easy to navigate UI split in to features, videos, cars, science, technology and gadgets ensuring that your daily dose of science quenches your thirst of the future. A must have app for the science geek in you.
I have been a fan of Tom’s Guide for well over 6 months, and the website features a number of intriguing posts every week. Focusing mostly on guides, list posts and how-to’s, Tom’s Guide is an excellent addition to any news sources you have. The Tom’s Guide Windows 8 app is a slick and simple operator; reviews and news tiles are listed by default, and popular tags are towards the top.
How Stuff Works
How Stuff Works features a ridicuolous amount of content all of which is 100% useful to the end viewer. The Windows 8 app is a must download, and makes navigating a wealth of articles easy by splitting them in to tiles by category. Channels, ‘stuff’ and shows break up the main content areas that the app offers, and for lunch time reading, this app is great for passing the time.
For funny, sometimes obscene however always satisfying posts, Cracked.com is a must visit for anybody wanting a laugh. The Windows 8 app features all of the websites very latest stories all on one page, making navigation and catch up easy peasy, lemon squeezy. The only downside to the app is that it can not be sized in to a rectangle tile, it is only available as a square. Boo.
Cnet is a reliable, trusted source of technology news with expert tech commentary with the website offering up perhaps the most in-depth consumer electronics reviews around. Currently this app appears to be experiencing some thumbnail image issues, whereby the default Cnet wallpaper is applied to all of them, however once this is fixed (it will be, for sure) the whole tech world is your oyster.
Shop, shop, shop! The Windows 8 eBay app is a real breeze to use, with tiles for watching, buying, selling, saved searches and search to the left whilst on the right is a sort of spotlight which features daily deals. The ebay app on Windows 8 isn’t as good as browsing the real-deal eBay website, in my book, however whilst in Windows 8 UI it feels old fashioned to open up a traditional browser. The app is satisfactory for most users needs.
Cut the Rope
Cut the Rope is an impeccably adorable action puzzle-physics game. It’s also fresh, challenging, gorgeous, and highly entertaining. It has simple rules, intuitive controls, and can be played in short bursts or blitzed through in a marathon gaming session. The Windows 8 version of this app is much the same as other platforms, featuring great physics and a high level of addiction risk. You have been warned.
Prior to Windows 8 I had never played this game, nor heard about it. This game shares the same basic concept as Pac-Man however rather than simply run away from the bad guys and yam up food, you must solve puzzles to open a doorway to the next level and escape almost certain doom. The app makes use of great physics and is good to look at and use with a mouse.
A universally accepted and much loved game, ‘Copter’ is a one touch control game where your aim is to fly your helicopter for as long as possible without crashing, with the games map becoming increasingly all over the place as you progress. Copter 8 works great both on touch-screen Windows 8 devices and also by using your mouse. The only drawback to this game is randomly generated levels, so challenges between two people can be difficult.
Who doesn’t love zombies? Small children, probably, but that doesn’t mean that us grown ups can’t enjoy shooting down hoards of the flesh eating un-dead as Judge Dredd, does it? This game is hugely entertaining and becomes harder as you progress and fairly challenging in places. Using a mouse and keyboard for this game is fine, however it is when on a Windows 8 tablet that the touch controls come in to their own. Get close, kill em’ quick.