Windows 8, Some Essential Apps

I’ve been using Windows 8 since December 2011, developing a game which has been released just before Windows 8’s launch. It didn’t take long, but I very quickly learnt to love the operating system. The improvements to the core desktop have been solid, and the metro interface is becoming more useful as more apps become available. This is my pick of apps with ‘Metro’ interface support:


This hit iOS/Android game has been in the Windows 8 store for free for a long time now. As an avid player, this was my first regular metro app. Playing during the morning commute on my Android phone, and responding to the same game in the evening on my laptop. The game’s really polished, and the developer has definitely done a great job making it work on the bigger screen.


When my boss sees this he’ll know what letters I have.

Can be found in the store.

Google Chrome

Yes, this is a metro app. Somewhere around August, Google pushed through an update to Chrome’s desktop app adding Metro support. Given that I normally use it on the desktop, I didn’t initially notice. Until I clicked a link in a Metro app, and it asked me whether I wanted to use Internet Explorer or Chrome. No doubt, I wanted to use Chrome, and it happily opened a fullscreen Metro app. It’s also almost an exact copy of the desktop version, and includes account synchronizing.

Google Chrome

I am in no way hinting that you should look at my new website. Which can be found at

This one isn’t in the store but can be downloaded from Google, as it’s included in Chrome’s desktop version.

I swear I had just made a conscious note to start using airbnb instead of as my primary accommodation site, but then I saw this app. Beautiful.

It’s about time I took the wife to Italy

Google Search

Google has come a long way as a search engine, and now you can pretty much ask it a bunch of questions. Combined with windows integration, you end up with the ability to ask Windows those questions. This blows my mind.

This is my test question whenever I’m messing with voice search on my phone

This is in the store.


As usual, these guys have a great experience on a new platform. It’s familiar, but still looks native to Windows 8. The important stuff is there; it syncs with your account and allows you to take notes. During the development of Rocket Riot 3D, we found this was one of the few apps that actually integrates sharing properly, and as such we made it possible to share both text and screenshots to Evernote.


I bet Microsoft won’t like this note I took during Unite 2012.

It’s in the store.

Windows Search Functionality

I mentioned in passing that Windows integrates search functionality. While this seems like a cool thing, it’s worth considering the implications of this. When I hit the start button and type what I want to search for, I can do it via any range of applications that support this. What this means is that I can search for “How cold is it in London” in Windows 8, and direct it to use Google! This kind of integrated system means you have a unified environment from which you can get any information. In a way, this is like your web browser, but extended with extra native functionality from sources of your choosing. It’s a matter of time before someone makes apps that let me set alarms by typing in the search bar. That’s almost like Android and iOS let you do, except it’s in Windows. In your primary OS†. That’s big.

The only thing I really know about Chicago is that it’s where Oprah did her show.

Note that these were the apps that I could review pre-launch. Skype made a brief appearance in the store, but got pulled, so I haven’t had a chance to look at that or plenty of other apps which will be out when Windows is launched. If these apps are any indication to the future of the Windows Store, I am very excited at the prospects!

† I know, <blah blah custom app> allows you to do this in <any OS you can think of>. Sure, but it’s not integrated by default. What that means is that there are official, in the system APIs for using this. Developers can easily plug into this without having to support <blah blah other third party app>. That’s really important to make it feel native, and so that every app implements it.

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