Continuing our look at Windows 8.1 in the week of its first major update, we’ve got another list of top apps from the Windows Store for you.
There’s no shortage of news and weather apps, and while there may be some familiar names from other platforms missing, there are plenty of South African specials to keep you up-to-date. Whether it’s RSS readers, specialist subject aggregators or branded news outlets, you’ll find something in the Store that will sate your news needs.
Windows 8.1 comes with a weather app pre-installed, but why stick with what everyone else uses? Plus, Weather SA is absolutely great and packed full of information – one of the best laid out weather apps wherever you are. Using Weather SA is simple – just tell it which locations around the country you’re interested in and it will populate a Windows 8.1-style dashboard for each. This includes current weather, hourly outlook and weekly forecast, as well as satellite maps of current conditions and even a chart of what the weather is currently suitable for. You can also set-up customised notifications whenever there’s a change in the outlook or a warning for one of your places.
The biggest name in online news is also the most popular South African current affairs app. News 24 may not provide the detail of other sites, but it does publish a tremendous number of updates daily with breaking news from around the country and globe. The Windows 8 app is neatly broken up into sections with the familiar live tile look for story pics, and once you’re in a story the focus is on large fonts that are easily read, with a simple swipe taking you to the next headline. It’s fast, functional and the only drawback is that the live tile for the Start page doesn’t update with breaking headlines.
When everything on Earth looks so bleak and inexplicable – another cold war in Europe, endemic corruption in Africa and yet another season of Two and a Half Men commissioned in the US – there’s only one place to look when you want to cheer yourself up and remind yourself of the true wonder of the world. Space! Space News Daily is a simple aggregation service that pulls in news from all over the web and looks out for the most interesting extra-terrestrial stories. There’s nothing clever about the layout, it just gets out-of-the-way and lets ace content shine through.
Free trial, R20
The best news reading app out there is, without a doubt, Feedly. The only problem with Feedly is that there’s no Windows 8 native version – you can load it through the website, but that’s not ideal if you’re on a tablet. Enter Readiy – a third-party app that accesses your Feedly RSS feeds and serves them up in a Modern UI manner. Not only is it fast and every bit as fully featured as the ‘proper’ Feedly app, we’d argue that it’s even better looking and that the card-style layout works wonderfully with a Windows touch screen. The only thing you can’t do is add new feeds from within the app – which is a bit of a pain if you’re an RSS junkie like us.
Microsoft’s own news reading app is one of the better ones out there. You can fully customise its homepage from the pre-selected sources, or add feeds of your own if you know the RSS address. The layout is simple and classic, serving up full stories in a magazine style layout with an emphasis on big, easily readable text and pictures. Like popular newsreaders Zite and Evernote’s Reader, it’s all about stripping out the complexity and clutter of the web and replacing it with the sort of minimal look of a tablet. The only downside is that sources you add manually appear as websites within the Bing app, complete with ads.