Windows is about productivity, and Windows 8.1 is about modernizing that experience and optimizing it for touch. No, it’s not perfect, but with help from a few developers, many of us could soon live entirely in that environment, and with a lot of help, we might actually like it.
We love the Microsoft Surface and Windows 8.1, but as you've probably noticed, it's hard to find the treasures in the Windows Store amidst all of the junk. There are dozens of apps that provide extremely compelling experiences in this modernized environment, and we want to make sure that you know about those apps.
Read on for brief written descriptions of these apps and their outstanding features, and watch the video that we've produced for you at the end of the post.
If your nuts about being productive, try 2Day. 2Day will help you out by allowing you to create different lists. For example, you might have a list for household chores, one for car repairs, and one for work.
2Day will let you customize every aspect about your to do list, down to the graphic for each category, and the way your lists are organized. Tasks can have different levels of completion. For example, if painting the house is one of your tasks, after completing one of four rooms, you could say that it's 25% done. We LOVE that we can pin the whole app, a list, or even a single task to the Start Screen.
2Day also syncs with multiple Windows 8 devices and the Windows Phone version of the app so you have access to your list on any device. You can even create a task using just your voice! Each task can have so many levels of customization. Here are the available settings for each task:
- Due Date
- Frequency (for repeat tasks)
- Reminder Time (Toast Notification and Live Tile)
- Start Date
- Plain Text Notes
I highly recommend 2Day for anyone who likes to stay as organized as possible. 2Day is $5.99 and does have a free trial.
HERE Maps is Nokia's own excellent maps application. It comes complete with navigation and even street view. Unlike its competitor's, Nokia's HERE maps will let you download a map straight to your device so that you can view it and get directions without needing an internet connection. You can also get recommendations on different attractions near you, or where you plan to travel.
HERE Maps features a fantastic and intuitive user interface with navigational controls familiar to any Windows 8 user.
With the "snap" slider, you can control how much of your screen real estate is showing the map vs. other features. You can find valuable information about places to eat and drink, entertainment, shopping, sights and museums, and hotels. If you have an internet connection, HERE Maps will also show you real-time traffic information.
Navigation is built into the app, but it currently lacks voice guidance. HERE Maps is free.
Readiy is a 3rd party Feedly client that's designed for a fast and fluid touch experience and it delivers.
Unlike many of its competitors, Readiy features a striking amount of customizability. Choose from different color themes, resize preview tiles to any size you want, and choose between multiple reading views from Readability, Instapaper, and an in-app internet browser so that you can see graphics, comments, embedded videos and more.
You'll want to have a Feedly account first (which you can setup at Feedly.com for free). Once you have that setup, login through Readiy. All of the feeds you've followed, and all of the categories or folders you've setup will be available in the left sidebar.
The greatest thing about Readiy is undoubtedly it's speed. Scrolling through the app, switching between articles, and browsing the different feeds is incredibly quick.
Readiy also features a perfect Live Tile implementation. You can pin the entire app, a category, or a single feed to your start screen. The Live Tile will scroll through new articles as they come in.
Readiy is free and ad supported. Ads can be removed with an in-app purchase or by purchasing Readiy Pro from the Store.
This version of OneNote can be downloaded from the Windows Store. It's the official client from Microsoft, made specifically for Touch, but works equally well with Mouse and Keyboard. Keep your life organized with multiple notebooks, sections, subsections, pages and subpages.
OneNote is the best life organizing and note taking application in the world, bar none, and the Touch optimized version for Windows 8.1 is an excellent choice for those that prefer to use their device that way, or for those who just prefer the full-screen optimized design.
The app works amazingly well in full screen or in any-snapped size, adjusting itself accordingly depending on the available screen real estate.
A few of our favorites are the ability to add pictures inline, create multiple text boxes on a page and resize them at will, ad Excel-like tables, draw, and tag items such as Phone numbers, addresses or to-do items.
OneNote features rich text editing in a style that makes sense for touch. The circular menu shown here is context aware, meaning it will adjust itself and display different controls depending on what action you're actually taking.
Tweetium is easily the best Twitter client for Windows 8.1 and the Surface. You just won't find another client that's more comprehensive. Tweetium stands out both technically, and in its actual features. Among those features are the several built-in themes, Toast Notifications and Live Tiles, Multiple Window Support, and some advanced pinning features.
With advanced multi-account support, those of you who may be marketers or who have multiple user accounts should be pleased. Besides the ease of which you can switch between your different accounts, you can have different themes and settings between those two accounts. For example, on the official @WinRTSource profile, I use a dark theme and have @Surface pinned to the navigation bar so I can keep up with what's important.
A simple tap in on the icon in the top right allows me to switch to my personal account complete with a different theme.
Among available features are:
- Show/Hide embedded images by default
- Show/Hide source app for Tweet
- Mute Users
- Mute Hashtags
- Sync with Tweetmarker
- Built in news reader via Newseen
- Advanced Live Tile implementation
- Toast Notifications and Live Tile notifications with separate controls for Direct Messages, New Followers, Retweets, and Favorites.
If you use Twitter a lot, there's no better option out there.
Do you like to stay current on the latest and greatest apps for Windows? Of course you do! That's why you're here right? This app comes straight from Nokia, and it's been a huge success on Windows Phone. Essentially the Digg for apps, users can create lists of apps for others to see. The more times and app is listed, the higher it goes into the rankings.
The social aspect of this app finder set it apart from other great applications like App Flow (which you should still check out by the way). The app also features a fantastic design. However, this app needs your help. Spend a few minutes creating a list of your favorite apps to help them reach a higher level of recognition!
You can also choose to see top Windows Phone apps in case you want to browse the most popular apps on a larger screen. Be sure to check out the leaderboard of the top list creators, top apps, top lists, trending creators , and trending apps.
This app's design makes it truly worthy of the platform it serves. Smooth animations use your available screen real estate to the fullest measure possible.
Downloading an app that you like is a snap, as you'd expect. Simply tap the download button and you'll be linked right to the app's listing in the Store. From here you can also view the app's 1-5 star rating.
Managing your finances is easier than ever before. Mint lets you create interactive budgets, and watch your progress throughout the month and year.
Mint will allow you to add your bank accounts, credit cards, and retirement plans so you can actually see your balances at any time. Live Tiles show your recent transactions to help you stay on top of activity.
The ability to select any spending category and see all of the transactions within it makes it easy to see what you're spending too much money on.
From within the app, you can manage and edit budgets, categorize transactions, view transactions on your accounts, and view details on your spending. Mint is by far the most advanced budgeting app available on any mobile platform. The best part about it? It's entirely FREE!
Live voice translation is now possible with the excellent Bing translator!
Bing translator is extremely capable. It's simple interface makes getting translation for your text as quick as possible. 14 different language packs are available for offline use: Arabic, Simplified Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish. Each language pack is about 100MB in size.
If you choose stay online you'll have more accurate translation along with a few more incredible features. Speech to text and text to speech are available. Press the microphone button, speak the phrase, and an amazingly accurate translation will be available for you to read. You can also press the speaker symbol, and an authentic sounding voice syndication will come firing out of your speakers or headphones.
The augmented reality translation mode you see here makes it possible to translate written text to and from the languages of your choice. This mode displays a live translation over the camera's viewfinder which means you can see what each word means live.
This amazingly advanced and valuable tool is available from the Windows Store completely free and without advertisements.
Hyper is a feature-packed and extremely comprehensive YouTube player. From with the app you can manage your subscriptions, like, and comment on videos that you view. It's a native Windows experience, though, not a stylized IE extension. Even before Google developed the latest version of the YouTube player for Android and iOS, Hyper had the advanced features of continuing to play your video in the upper right corner while you search for your next video. You can even queue up videos on the fly.
Hyper will allow you to customize your experience by adding or subtracting streams to your dashboard. If you have a particular channel you want to keep up with (like WinBeta or Windows RT Source), you can add that channel and see new videos appear there whenever they're ready.
Customize your player experience to your liking with options for Touch or Mouse and Keyboard, choose your default playback quality, and more.
Hyper is free, but there is a pro version that adds a few features such as themes.
Splashtop lets you connect to your home PC easily. Unlike the Remote Desktop app from Microsoft, Splashtop will let you connect even if you aren't on the same network as the PC you're attempting to access.
Splashtop has a number of amazing features. The digital trackpad makes it easy to select items precisely. It activates a mouse cursor that you move around the screen and then tap the left or right mouse buttons to select. If you prefer, you can use standard touch controls which pretty accurately mimic native Windows 8 controls.
There are shortcut keys built into the app which will take you straight to your Windows Start screen or your charms. Splashtop also has the ability to extend your home PCs monitor. Finally, if you install the Splashtop client on your Mac, you can also connect remotely to that.
What are your must-have apps for Windows 8.1? Share them via the comments below!