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27 BEST Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 apps

Best Windows 8 apps

No decent apps for Windows 8? Think again! Here are 27 great Windows 8 apps

What are the best Windows 8 apps? It’s become something of a truism that there are decent Windows 8 apps, but that’s not true. Since Windows 8 launched the Windows Store has been steadily filling with a great selection and variety of apps.

Here, we round up 27 of the best Windows 8 apps, grouped into a selection of different categories. Many of the apps are designed with touchscreen devices in mind, but most will work fine on a conventional laptop or desktop, too. To download the apps click on the individual links to go straight to the Windows 8 Store.

The Windows Store works in a different way to other app stores when it comes to trying free samples of paid-for apps. On Android or iOS, developers have to release a separate free or lite version of their apps. On Windows 8, developers can offer a limited time or feature trial of a paid-for app without having to submit two different apps to the store.

Before paying for an app in the Windows Store, look for the little Try button, next to Buy, in the app’s listing. Often, developers will let you try the full version of the app for a few days. Sometimes, they will give you a feature-stripped version with premium features or later game levels locked until you pay. Many of the paid-for apps we review here offer trial versions, and we mention this next to the price where applicable, s(o you can judge an app’s quality for yourself before paying.

Best Windows 8 apps – Games

Snap Attack (Free) – A recently released sequel to Wordament – a thinly veiled rip-off of the word game Boggle – Snap Attack provides another opportunity to impress (or otherwise) the world with your vocabulary. Like its predecessor, the game is played live over the internet against hundreds or thousands of opponents using the same game board as you. The objective this time is to form as many words as you can, against the clock, using the seven tiles in your rack and the letters already on the board. Yes, that noise you can hear is the tutting of Scrabble’s legal team; but the writ hasn’t landed yet, maybe because like the rest of us, they are having just one more go.

Snap Attack

Star Wars Assault Team (Free) – The Star Wars franchise has been flogged more often than a horse on the home straight of the Grand National, but Assault Team can hardly be accused of cashing-in, as it’s free. This turn-based strategy game requires you to build a team of Jedi sympathisers – starting with Chewbecca and Han Solo – and crush waves of Stormtroopers et al in a series of missions. Stumping up for in-app purchases will help you overcome the Dark Side, but if you’re clever enough with your team selection and how you use your squad’s various strengths, you can succeed without reaching for the credit card.

Star Wars Assault Team

Project Spark (Free) – Writing a 3D game is a doddle: all you need is a studio of computer science graduates, two years and a few million quid on your overdraft. OK, it’s hideously complicated and expensive, but Project Spark genuinely turns that on its head. This magnificent project is a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) games editor: you drop your characters into place, mould the landscape, set the challenges, and all without writing a line of code. A sharp brain and some imagination is required to program the characters using the graphical interface, but there’s a terrific tutorial to get you started and other players’ games to take inspiration from, such as the Game of Thrones title pictured. Give this to a teenager and prepare to be gobsmacked.

Project Spark

Asphalt 8: Airborne (Free) – Not so very long ago, the slick 3D graphics of Asphalt 8 would have required a PC graphics card the size of a bungalow. Now it’s playable on ultraslim tablets. One of those racing games where the brakes are merely an accessory, Asphalt 8 has you blasting through glistening cityscapes at terrifying speed, until you inevitably write-off the car with a head-on collision and respawn. The tilt-the-tablet to steer controls are soon mastered, as is timing your nitro boosts, and although the single-player mode is engaging, the hairs on the back of your neck only stand to attention when you’re racing online with others. In-app purchases are given the hard sell, but casual racers need not bother.

Asphalt 8

Tweetium (£1.99, 7-day free trial) – The official Twitter app for Windows 8 is like a Creme Egg: alright, but not very filling. Tweetium makes use of all the available screen space, so instead of just providing one narrow column of tweets from your timeline, it uses Windows 8-style tiles to pack in the latest from your feed. There’s a fine selection of light and dark themes to choose from – the one in our screenshot is Midnight blue glow – and options to change the size of the text to suit your screen. It updates the second new tweets arrive, unlike the official app, and although we’d like a few more advanced options, it’s the best Twitter client we’ve found for Windows 8.


Facebook (Free) – For our money, Windows 8 has the best Facebook app of any platform, largely because the social network has resisted the temptation to fiddle with it too much. It mimics the design of the website, but is more evenly spaced to avoid fat-finger syndrome for tablet users. Messaging isn’t split off into a separate app, like it is on iOS, and the live tile scrolls through friends’ updates on your Start screen, including photos and statuses. However, the best thing about Facebook on Windows 8 is that it’s not constantly trying to change your News Feed setting back to Top Stories, like the website does, and ads are nowhere to be seen. Bliss.


Foursquare (Free) – The FourSquare app for Windows 8 is stunningly well designed, and not merely a port of the company’s Android or iOS apps. Designed to help you to find places to go, based on the recommendation of friends and other FourSquare members, this app is like a highly personalised Time Out. On the homescreen it lists the nearest attractions to your current location, with rating and mini-reviews from fellow users rotating on the screen to give you an instant flavour for whether that Chinese restaurant does a decent dim sum, or whether you’ll find clean bedding in a hotel. As with many Windows 8 apps, search is awkwardly hidden away in the Search charm, but it’s the one flaw in an otherwise spotlessly implemented app.


Flipboard (Free) – Separate social apps are a pain in the index finger if you’re a Facebook and Twitter junkie. Flipboard rolls them both into one delightfully presented app, and much more. As the name signposts, this app turns your social feeds into flippable, magazine-style pages, with presentation every bit as elegant as the coffee table fodder you’ll find on newsagents’ shelves. As well as social networks, Flipboard sucks content from your chosen news feeds and selected partners, such as Vanity Fair, The Economist and others, formatting it all into an easy-to-read layout. It even lets you become a magazine editor, curating and commenting on articles you’ve seen in other feeds for your own readers. This magazine lark will never catch on, though.


Reddit with Redditting (Free) – The social news aggregator, Reddit, is a peculiarly wonderful site. Nowhere else could you find a compilation video of a son repeatedly scaring his poor father alongside reports of the latest atrocities in Syria. The site’s byzantine structure can be intimidating and difficult to browse on tablet browsers, but the awkwardly named Reddit With Redditting does a fine job of smoothing the rough edges, making it easy to scroll through the various content channels (or subreddits), read and make comments, and hide or favourite your selected posts. You can also submit your own posts from within the app, but spend some time learning the mores of the Reddit community if you don’t want to be ignored or savaged in comments at the first attempt.


Netflix (Free, requires £5.99 per month subscription) – Netflix is the company your broadband provider has on its dartboard, because the streaming television and video service is proving so popular that it’s demolishing their bandwidth. With series such as Breaking Bad, Dexter and The Killing, not to mention Netflix’s homemade hits such as Kevin Spacey’s House of Cards, and a huge catalogue of movies, there’s always something worth watching. The app streams video in Full HD, and resumes from exactly where you left off – on your Windows 8 PC, or any of the countless other devices the service supports. It also offers user profiles, so you can keep grown-ups viewing separate from the kids’ movies. Although don’t be surprised to see The Muppets Movie or Toy Story 3 in dad’s playlist either.


Vevo (Free) – Vevo is the MTV for the app generation. If you’re of a certain vintage and just about to stop reading there: don’t. Yes, Vevo has plenty of One Direction and Katy Perry on its homepage, but dig deeper and there’s plenty of great music videos for fans of all genres and ages, including some classic live performances from the archives. Vevo is based around mixes: search for a song or artist, and it will run an automatically curated playlist based around your selection until you tell it stop. Alternatively, you can create your own bespoke playlists. Ads are interspersed between songs to pay the rent, but then MTV wasn’t a charity, either.


Outcoldplayer (£1.99) – The curiously named outcoldplayer is a client for the excellent Google Play Music service. For the uninitiated, Google Play Music allows you to store up to 20,000 songs from your own music collection on Google’s servers, so those songs, albums and playlists can be streamed to any device. And it doesn’t cost a bean, either. The £1.99 fee for the outcoldplayer app buys you an attractively designed, tablet-friendly front-end for your music collection, complete with album covers and artist photos (where available). Search is nice and snappy, and you can start random Radio mixes based on the tune/artist you’re listening to, which is a good way of unearthing hidden gems in your collection.


VLC (Free) – A touchscreen Windows 8 version of VLC is finally available and it does everything you’d expect. It is ideal for video and music playback and works with just about any file format you can throw at it. VLC is also good for managing and browsing your media library and the tiled interface makes finding things a breeze. Unlike the slightly dated Desktop version of VLC the Windows 8 app is bright, fresh and looks great.

Edjing (Free) – If you’ve never walked past a DJ’s stand and pictured yourself spinning the wheels of steel you’re dead from the soul down. Edjing lets you scratch and mix your own music collection from a tablet’s touchscreen, proving that – even with all this app’s automatic sync toys and effects – it’s not as easy as it looks. Naturally, this app works best with dance music, rather than Neil Diamond’s Greatest Hits, with virtual buttons to help you skip beats, distort the sound, and tweak the treble, amongst many other effects. A good number of those audio toys are only open to those who cough up for an in-app purchase, which was down from £60 to £5.49 at the time of writing, which is still good value for the amount of fun this will give you at parties.


Domino’s Pizza UK & Ireland (Free) – If the most exercise you got previously was to walk to the phone to order a pizza, this app is going to give your GP grave cause for concern. The Domino’s Pizza app is spot on for placing your order while the chaps are round for footy, or just before that family movie night. The menu is clearly laid out using the familiar Windows 8 tiled interface, and it’s easy to customise toppings and side orders. Special offers from your local branch are presented on the home screen, along with a handy map if you’re planning to pick it up yourself. Alternatively, fill out the simple registration form, choose a delivery time and wait for the guy to knock at your door. Just don’t drip your Chicken Feast with Hot Dog Stuffed Crust over your keyboard.

Domino's Pizza

Great British Chefs – Cooking with Kids (Free) – The original Great British Chefs app demolished the myth you couldn’t make fantastic looking Windows 8 apps, and this version – designed for cooking with budding Jamies and Nigellas – is every bit as delicious. The same, splendid design is retained: browse or search for recipes; add the ingredients to a digital shopping list that can be digitally crossed off as you shop online or take your tablet round the supermarket; and then pop the recipe into Cooking Mode when it comes to bake time, and swipe step-by-step through the instructions, with a handy timer on the side to keep you on track. Included in this version are ‘Room for the little one’ tips, which tell you when and how you can involve the kids safely in each recipe.

Great British Chefs

Allrecipes (Free) – Not as fancy looking at other recipe apps, but as the name suggests Allrecipes makes up for it by having…all the recipes. There are more than 50,000 to chose from, withb options to search by ingredients and type of cuisine. Recipes include photos, nutritional information and ratings and reviews from other users, often with tips on how to improve them. There’s also an extensive list of seasonal recipes, so you can always find something different to try.

Skyscanner (Free) – Booking flights is always a monstrous pain in the posterior, but the Skyscanner app makes the process about as pleasant as it can be. The key part of the app is the price chart: you select your departure and destination airports, and punch in a rough date, and Skyscanner reveals on which days it would be cheapest to fly on a cleverly designed interactive bar graph. You can filter out particular airlines – if you find Ryanair objectionable, for example – and match on other criteria, such as direct flights, duration and flight times. Our only criticism is that prices often climb by the time you get to the booking screen, sometimes more quickly than a plane leaving Gatwick.


Moneypoint (Free) – Ever since the demise of Microsoft Money, there’s been a yawning gap in the market for personal finance software. MoneyPoint doesn’t offer all the features Money did, but it’s a pretty decent way of tracking how cash is flowing in and (more pertinently) out of your bank account. It will import transactions from your bank, either in .csv or .qif formats, and once you’ve tagged which category each item falls under (salary, groceries, mortgage etc) produces clear reports showing how you’re spending your hard earned. The app also includes basic budgeting tools, so you can see if you’ve overspent on clothes or ‘entertainments’ that month, and automatic backup options are welcome to ensure your valuable data is protected.


Metro Commander Pro (Free) – One of Windows 8’s weaknesses is that it lacks a touch-friendly file manager, a modern equivalent of the desktop’s File Explorer. Step forward Metro Commander Pro, a convenient little utility that Microsoft would do well to consider buying itself. The Commander provides shortcuts to common file types – music, pictures, videos – so that you don’t have to find each separately using the various, pre-loaded Windows 8 apps. There’s also shortcuts to OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) and Dropbox, as well as the option to navigate any attached drives. All files and folders are listed in finger-sized slots, so there’s no chance of opening the wrong file because of fat-finger syndrome on tablets, like there is in the desktop File Explorer, and it has all the usual options to copy, rename, delete or open files with different apps. Simple, yes, but effective.

Elements: The Periodic Table (Free) – When we were studying chemistry at school, the periodic table was a yellowing poster hanging behind the teacher’s desk. This app raises the bar and interest levels considerably. Tap on any element and you get a detailed breakdown that includes, among other things, physical properties, images, a potted history of the element and details of what it’s used for, as well as links to websites for further reading. Thus we learn that Promethium is ‘used in atomic batteries for spacecraft and guided missiles’, has a melting point of 1,042C and is suitably named after the Greek titan Prometheus, who stole fire from heaven. Had Mr Chivers been that interesting at school, we’d have known that already.


TeamViewer Touch (Free) – TeamViewer is a brilliant remote desktop app, allowing you to either control your home computer while you’re travelling with your laptop/tablet, or play the role of Tech Samaritan and help friends and family with a support issue. This touch-screen optimised version makes it easy to control a desktop/laptop PC from a tablet, with shortcut buttons for regular Windows commands such as the Start button, CTRL+ALT+DEL, plus all the Windows 8-specific commands for Charms and apps. If the PC you’re connecting to has two or more monitors, you can easily switch between them, and there’s a virtual keyboard for typing on the host PC, should you need to enter a password, for example. For nabbing files you accidentally left at home or rescuing a friend a need, it can’t be beaten.

TeamViewer Touch

Essential Anatomy 3 (£13.99, free trial available) – If you’ve ever wondered what the inside of the human body looks like, and didn’t want to spend years at medical school or a high-security prison, this amazing app is just the ticket. It peers inside the skin to give a fascinating insight into the organs, bones, muscles, arteries and anything else that comprises the average homo sapien. The 3D model can be spun around and manipulated with your finger or mouse, and the various layers of muscle, tissue and organs can be switched on and off, or individual bones isolated. With detailed descriptions of every body part, it’s a magnificent learning tool, but also terrific fun just to play with. Take up the 14-day free trial, at the very least.

Essential Anatomy

Code Writer (Free) – If you’re the kind of person who speaks in variables or loves a loop, than Code Writer could be right up your street. It’s a text and code editor, with distinctly helpful features such as syntax highlighting (automatically using different colours for different types of commands) and limited auto-complete, so that if you open a tag in HTML, the closing tag is created for you, reducing the likelihood of typing errors. It supports more than 20 different programming languages, including common web languages such as JavaScript, XML and HTML, as well as Ruby, PowerShell, Visual Basic and many more. This isn’t an app suited to touchscreen keyboard use, but it’s handy nonetheless.

Code Writer

Fotor (Free) – Fotor usurps some of the more established names in the imaging industry to become our favourite Windows 8 app for general photo editing. It’s got a well-stocked library of editing tools and effects, and unlike some of its rivals, there’s a strength slider on each of those effects to help make those filters look more subtle, rather than the over-cooked effects you tend to find on Instagram and its ilk. The Tilt-Shift filter – where you make landscape images look like toy villages – is particularly well implemented, with an overlay revealing exactly which parts of the photo will remain in focus. There’s also an option to create photo collages, which is easy to manipulate with touch controls.  You really can’t grumble for free.


Meme-Generator (Free) – Anyone who’s ever pointed their web browser at Reddit will know that daft memes – images accompanied by witty slogans – are what keep the internet amused. This app makes it a doddle to create your own. It includes a batch of popular templates – including Advice Homer, Bad Advice Cat and the ever-popular Success Kid (pictured) – to which you simply overlay your witty slogan. Once you’ve done being funny, you can save the meme locally, or share it via email or any other app using the Windows 8 Share Charm facility. If you don’t like the reasonably unobtrusive ads, you can buy an ad-free version for 79p and stick it to The Man.

Meme Generator

Plex (£3.49) – Tablets, and even many modern laptops running SSDs as their primary form of storage, don’t have a great deal of disk space. Plex helps you get around that by streaming your media from other devices. Install the free server software ( on your PC or compatible NAS drive, and you can access all your photos, videos or music on your Windows 8 device using the Plex app (provided they’re not wrapped in DRM). The Plex app interface is stunningly well designed, with attractive slideshows of your photos scrolling in the back of menus, and finger-friendly design throughout. Plex also offers a series of online channels, including YouTube and BBC iPlayer, which is particularly handy since the Beeb hasn’t got an official iPlayer app for Windows 8 yet. Shame, then, that we couldn’t get catch-up shows to play on our test device.


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