12 Essential Windows 8 Apps
As Windows 8 hits the market, it creates an opportunity for users to experience apps in yet another different way. Windows 8 comes with the drastically different Modern UI (previously known as Metro) design. Here are some of the most interesting apps that are available for the debut of Windows 8, using the Modern UI design. Have a look at the spectrum of things you can explore with the inaugural cohort of windows 8 apps, each essential to experiencing Windows 8 to the fullest.
By Herbert Lui
The wonders of the universe are now literally accessible at your fingertips. Star Chart is an app that has been available on the iPhone and Android devices, and is now taking on the Modern UI. Within this app, you can visually explore what we’ve discovered in the worlds and spaces beyond the Earth. It’s also capable of tapping into your Windows 8 device’s webcam and using augmented reality to tell you just exactly what constellations or stars you’re looking at. Star Chart is available for $5.99 from the Windows 8 App Store.
Ballstrike is a game that makes use of augmented reality and helps you keep fit; basically, it takes advantage of the webcam on Windows 8 hardware, and creates a virtual environment where you can use your hands and legs to play the game. For those of you that are really interested in fitness, Ballstrike actually features a calorie counter and keeps a record of how much energy you burn in one game. If you want a fun way to keep fit at home, check out Ballstrike.
Some photos or graphics just aren’t as helpful without annotations or notes. Skitch is an app that uses Windows 8’s Modern UI to organize and help you annotate, edit, and share your diagrams, brainstorming sessions and any other images that may need a little clarification right from the Start screen. Express yourself clearly using Skitch.
Despite the plethora of media companies pushing out news apps for Windows 8 and Modern UI, USA Today’s offering has been said to stand head and shoulders above all others. Stories are presented in Modern UI’s tile form factor, and feature a ton of multimedia to enrich the news experience. If USA TODAY is your newspaper of choice, this is a no-brainer; even if it isn’t your usual read, consider having a look — its design may just win you over. Keep up to date by using USA TODAY’s Windows 8 app.
Cocktail Flow exists to make sure you never run out of interesting drinks to try out. As its name suggests, Cocktail Flow is a Windows 8 app that is designed to show you how to concoct and mix drinks. It presents ingredients and instructions for each type of beverage, and also allows you to sort by color, drink, and a few other categories. Quench your thirst with Cocktail Flow.
You can now go beyond playing other people’s games: Physamajig is a Windows 8 app that allows you to create your own games. It gives you the power to play other people’s physics-based games (not necessarily purely scientific — it can involve sports such as basketball or high-speed action like racing), as well as the ability to create your own games. This can make for a funky set of games with a ton of different attributes, such as friction, bounciness, and gravity. If that sounds like it’s up your alley, check out Physamajig.
Autodesk’s Sketchbook Express is a drawing program that allows you to create works of visual art through various digital tools such as pencils, markers, and brushes. It’s specifically designed for touch-based interfaces, and will be absolutely perfect for your Windows 8 tablet. For those of you interested in illustrating your thoughts, give Sketchbook Express a whirl.
For those of you obsessed with productivity and automatically syncing up your notes (or inbox for your GTD system), Evernote has created a version of its service specifically for Windows 8’s Modern UI. Its extremely streamlined interface makes it easy to dive right into the most important part of Evernote: the notes. Have a look at Evernote for Windows 8.
Games can be excellent thought exercises for your mind. ARMED! is a turn-based multiplayer strategy game that puts you at the helm of a futuristic fleet. It allows you to hone your skills against computer-based opponents, as well as connecting online to play with friends. Originally made for the Windows Phone, ARMED! is making its way to Windows 8.
CookBook is a powerful free resource that can guide you through your culinary explorations. It has over 200,000 recipes for you to browse, and it includes comprehensive instructions and ingredient lists, as well as high-quality photography to give you an idea of how your dish should turn out. It’s curated through user reviews and categories. Have a look at CookBook on Microsoft’s Windows 8 App Store.
In the case that you’ve been hiding under a rock (for the past decade), Skype is an application that allows you to connect with friends and family through microphones and webcams. The Windows 8 version of Skype naturally features a Modern UI interface, as well a more full-screen experience. It’s also much more fully integrated into Windows 8’s People app (basically a list of your contacts), and can connect to landlines of all contacts who don’t have Skype accounts. Get back in touch with friends and family with Skype for Windows 8.
News Bento is beautiful RSS reader that is fully integrated into Windows 8’s Modern UI interface. It aggregates not only text, but a variety of graphics from different Web sites, which makes it very aesthetically pleasing. Naturally, it’s capable of aggregating news from your favorite websites. It also has the ability to sync up with Google Reader. If you’re on the market for a new, free, RSS reader directly integrated into your Windows 8 device, check out News Bento.