20 best Windows 8 apps to get your hands on

Get the most out of your Windows 8 tablet by using apps that have been designed for the Modern UI

To get the most out of your Windows 8 tablet or laptop-tablet hybrid device, you really have to venture into Windows 8’s Modern UI (formerly called Metro) and make use of the native apps that are on offer from the Windows Store.

If you don’t use your Windows 8 tablet or laptop in this environment, then you aren’t taking full advantage of what Windows 8 offers. While the Windows Store can be a little clunky to use and sometimes behaves unreliably (at least in our experience), there are many apps that you can try out which will perhaps give you a new perspective on how your Windows 8 device can be used.

We'll kick things off with our most favourite app.

The Big Picture

This is Boston.com's app for the picture section of the same name on its Web site. It puts all of the site's large-sized photos in a slideshow app so that you can browse through them with the swipe of a finger across the screen. It helps that the pictures are often amazing.

Price: Free

Flickr Manager

While on the subject of photos, the Flickr Manager isn't too bad either, especially if you've already got all your photos on the site. You can see not only your own photos, but also recent uploads from others, Explored photos, and your favourites. All this is at a glance on the main screen and you can flick through photos with your finger. That's apt for a service that's called Flickr, wouldn't you say?

Price: Free

Reddit with Redditing

When it comes to Reddit, we prefer using this app rather than the Web site. To use it, simply select your favourite Reddit, then tap on the submissions shown on the left side. The content shows up on the right side. If you want to read comments, just click the icon with the number in it on the left. They will show up in place of the content, though you can also choose to view the comments with the content side by side. Definitely worth using this app when you're in tablet mode.

Price: Free

DI.fm

If you're a fan of electronic music, it's hard to go past Digitally Imported and the radio stations it offers. The app allows you to easily select a radio station from its clear tile interface, and you can even pin your favourites to the Start screen. Once you select a station, you get a play screen that shows track history and can easily skip to the next station in the list.

Price: Free

Sketchbook Express

The Sketchbook Express app is the streamlined version of its desktop counterpart. It’s free and very basic, but is still a useful tool use for Windows 8 tablet users. The tool options consist of pencil, pen, marker, paintbrush, airbrush, rounded and jagged erasers, and a paintbucket. There is also an eye dropper tool and a colour wheel.

This app can easily be used to finger paint or draw if you have a stylus enabled tablet, you can even use the mouse. You can download this app as a tablet friendly option or simply as a taste before deciding whether to upgrade to the pro desktop version.

Price: Free

This app contributed by Cindy Ngo

Photo Editor by aviary

Photo Editor by aviary is a free, simple photo editing app optimised for Windows 8 tablets. It comes with many editing and filter options. You can quickly edit the shots that you have taken.

You can crop, rotate, adjust brightness, contrast, saturation, sharpen, blur and even draw and add text onto your photograph. In addition to this there is one-tap auto enhance, various photo filters, stickers that you can resize, rotate, and add to your photo, and cosmetic tools, which are very useful for quick fixes, such as to fix redeye, remove blemishes, and whiten teeth.

This app offers a wealth of photo editing options and is very easy to use, so there is no need to become a master of Photoshop for simple tasks.

Price: Free

This app contributed by Cindy Ngo

Maps

If this isn't installed by default on your device, then you should give it a go. Switch to 'Aerial view' by swiping in from the top and selecting the map style, and then have fun browsing around different cities all over the world by dragging your finger across the touchscreen. Use a two-finger pinch gesture to zoom in.

Price: Free

Kindle

There's not much to say about this other than the Kindle app is available on the Windows 8 platform and should be used if you already have a Kindle account.

Price: Free

SBS OnDemand

SBS OnDemand was one of the first video streaming services from an Australian broadcaster to offer an app on Windows 8, and it's great for catching up on programs you may have missed during the week. The interface is simple, and you can easily browse the latest content that's been uploaded according to genre. The station's current affairs programs are offered, as well as US shows such as The Walking Dead.

Price: Free

RemindMe

RemindMe is a very simple but effective reminders application for Windows 8. You can quickly create reminders for yourself in relative time (for example, in 10 minutes) or at a specific time and date. The app also allows you to see your reminder countdown in real time.

RemindMe integrates with your windows 8 device, your next reminder shows itself on the live tile, as well as on the lockscreen. You can set the colour of the reminder, sound, and recurrence. Once activated, a notification will show itself on the top right hand of the screen, wherever you are.

This app is handy who tend to be forgetful, or need to stay alert with lots of tasks. In addition to being free, RemindMe has no advertisements.

Price: Free

This app contributed by Cindy Ngo

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RipTide GP

This was one of the first games we downloaded for testing Windows 8 tablets, and it's still one of the most fun racing games we've experienced on the platform. You can use the keyboard to control the jet ski around the water track, or you can make use of the motion sensor in your tablet to control the jet ski by moving the screen side to side and tilting it. The graphics are great, the action is fast, and there are plenty of opportunities to get big air off jumps.

Price: $1.99.

RipTide GP2 is available now, too, which costs $6.99.

TuneIn Radio

TuneIn Radio is an audio streaming app that gives you access to over 60,000 radio stations. In addition to these stations, you can listen to other worldwide programs that offer music, sports, news, and podcasts. You can pin your favourite stations to the Start screen, for easy access later. The app also has backgrounding functionality, so you can listen to the audio while multitasking.

The Windows 8 app uses a square tile design, which is very touch friendly. The app itself is very simple to use, you browse by selecting on a section. You can filter the programs and radio stations by, location, music genres, sports, news, talk, language, and podcasts.

Price: Free

This app contributed by Cindy Ngo

Bubble Pop Star

When all you want to do is relax and not interact too much with the screen, then a bubble popping game such as Bubble Pop Star is a good choice. In this game, you have to pop bubbles in patterns that will get rid of the most bubbles in one hit. The more you pop with one tap, the more points you get. It’s a neat interface and the menu system is reminiscent of Angry Birds.

Price:

Bubble Breaker

There are other Bubble games that we like, too. Bubble Breaker mixes up different colours of bubbles and you get more points for connecting colours and popping more bubbles with one tap. The goal is to clear the screen and beat your high score, and it can be a bit of a challenge. The interface is a little cheap looking, but the have-fun-while-popping factor is high.

Price: Free

ilomilo+

ilomilo+ is a fun, whimsical, puzzle game. The Windows 8 app version allows you to use touch controls, a gamepad, or a keyboard. The aim is quite simple, you have to lead two squared creatures, ilo and milo back together. They are trapped in opposite sides of the maze and you alternate between the two characters.

Despite its simplicity it is very fun, as you progress you have to move more blocks, defy gravity, and the levels get more difficult. The land is beautifully animated in 3D and the graphics are vivid. The music and sound effects are soothing and fit well in the game. There is also multiplayer mode, in which you can play with another person.

Price: $4.99

This app contributed by Cindy Ngo

Hyper for YouTube

Hyper for YouTube is a Windows 8 app optimised for tablets. Using this app you can view and download videos. The app has backgrounding functionality we were able to play music videos in the background while using other windows apps.

While playing a video you can right click for more options such as changing the video resolution, adding it to your playlists or favourites, and downloading the video. When downloading, you have various video resolution options as well as the ability to download in mp3.

The design of the app is very nice, Hyper for YouTube uses a tile layout that is optimised for touch. Each video tile has a like bar at the bottom, the green and red representing the number of likes and dislikes.

Hyper for YouTube is free, however you can choose to buy the Hyper Pro Addon for $2.99. You get features such as pinning videos and channels for easy access later, more colour theme options, and batch downloading.

Price: Free

This app contributed by Cindy Ngo

MinimaList

MinimaList is a very simple, basic to-do app. Using this app you can easily create and manage your lists. The app is optimised for touch support, making it easy for tablet users. You swipe right to check an item, swipe right again to uncheck, swiping left will remove the item, double tapping will let you edit the item, and by pressing and holding you can rearrange the items.

To search all your lists and items, you use the charms bar search. You can add multiple items without leaving the keyboard, you just click enter after adding each item.

The design is streamlined, it is clear that the only purpose is to create and manage your lists. Once you add a list, they will show up on the top bar.

Price: Free

This app contributed by Cindy Ngo

Solitaire Collection

A Windows machine without Solitaire simply shouldn't be. For Windows 8-based tablets, we like the Solitaire Collection. It has games in it such as TriPeaks and Pyramid, which are more fun than the standard Solitaire layout.

Price: Free

StumbleUpon

For the times when you're not sure what you want to be looking at online, StumbleUpon comes in very handy. Pick the topics you're interested, and then tap the Stumble button to get to random Web pages as chosen by the StumbleUpon engine. Use the thumbs-up or thumbps-down icons to line and dislike content so that it becomes more tailored to your tastes. The interface could be a little better (we wish it incorporated swipes rather than a button for stumbling), but it's still a fun app to use.

Price: Free

Flightaware

Those of you who are into planes might enjoy this app, which allows you to track the plane movements from your home airport, or any airport abroad. You can just fire up the map and look at what's happening, or you can choose to track a specific flight.

Price: Free