When Windows 8 was officially launched in October of last year, its built-in apps weren’t overwhelmingly impressive at first, but they did improve after several updates. The Mail app in particular was less than impressive to say the least. Which is one reason why Windows RT users are happy Outlook 2013 is included in the new update. But now there’s greatly improved built-in apps in Windows 8.1 and some new ones too. Here’s a look at what’s new.
New Bing Apps
So let’s take a look at what new apps are included in the Windows 8/RT 8.1 update starting with Bing apps. One could argue the Bing apps in Windows 8 were the best ones of the lot in Windows 8. Apps like News, Finance, Sports, and the Weather apps were all a great start and improved over time. And while those apps have been improved in 8.1, new Bing apps are included too.
Bing Health & Fitness
To keep track of your health and fitness activities, Bing Health & Fitness includes several interesting features. It has exercise plans, nutrition information, diet and health trackers, health news and a lot more.
Bing Food & Drink
This is a beautiful and well laid out app that provides you with food recipes, meal plans, tips and techniques, celebrity chef advice, guides to wines and cocktails, and the ability to create you shopping lists. Once you start using it, you’ll find it has a lot of useful features, and can inspire you to create a great meal for a dinner party.
Windows 8.1 Utility Apps
For the initial release of Windows 8/RT a glaring omission in apps were utilities that we’ve all become accustomed to in previous versions of Windows. Apps like Calculator and Sound Recorder. In Windows 8.1 those familiar utilities have been added along with a few others.
While there was a Sound Recorder utility in Windows 8, it was a desktop application and not modern-style. Windows 8.1 includes a modern-style Sound Recorder app. It’s basic and works as expected and also supports basic editing capabilities.
While the Calculator app existed on the desktop, there was no modern-style equivalent in the previous Windows 8 iteration. This version provides standard and scientific types, length, weight, temperature converters and more.
This app allows you to collect articles that you’ve shared from apps like Internet Explorer 11 to read later offline. It also has the ability to sync your saved articles through SkyDrive so you can access the articles on other devices.
Windows 8 introduced class drivers in to the OS which allows you to connect virtually any modern printer/scanner to your device and it should work without the need to hunt down drivers. The Scan app allows you to scan a document easily to your PC or tablet. It’s not fancy or feature packed, but it does the job – getting a document on your computer.
Help & Support
At the time of this writing, the new modern-style Help & Support app is currently a place holder and says it’s coming soon. For the final RTM release of Windows 8.1 is should be finished and include helpful tips on how to use the new version of Windows. It’s been reported that this will emulate the Help & Tips app currently available in Windows Phone 8.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t include the new version of Xbox Music. While not a “new” app it has been completely overhauled, contains a much nicer user interface and features. When Xbox Music was first released, it was mediocre at best, but it’s matured quite a bit over the past year and looks to be a serious contender as the “iTunes” for Windows. It allows you to sync your music collection between all of your Windows 8 devices and the Xbox 360 and upcoming Xbox One consoles. Also, Microsoft recently launched Xbox Music Online service that lets you sync your music and listen via a web browser provided you’re a Music Pass subscriber.Tags: Software,Technology