Apps Included with Windows 8.1

Just like Windows 8, Windows 8.1 includes a collection of modern apps to add value for its users. Some are of general use that most people will find helpful, others are niche apps that many will simply delete or ignore. We’ll run through a list of the apps you'll find and which of them are worth your time.

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Alarms app
Image courtesy of Microsoft. Robert Kingsley

Alarms is an app that offers just what you’d expect; the ability to set alarms on your Windows 8.1 device. Use it to wake yourself up in the morning or to remind yourself of something. Setting new alarms is a snap as the interface is about as simple as you could imagine. You can set one-time or repeat alarms and select different tones for each.

On top of the obvious feature, Alarms also offers a couple of other tools. The Timer tab allows you to set up a countdown from a specific amount of time. I use this feature to stay on top of my daily schedule. There is also a Stopwatch tab which lets you count up from zero to time how long something takes. This is useful for mobile users to track lap times while running.

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Calculator App
Image courtesy of Microsoft. Robert Kingsley

Calculator, like Alarms, is exactly what you think it is. A modern app version of a calculator. It’s big and it’s touch-friendly, which is great, but it isn’t as simple as that.

The Calculator app offers three modes. Standard provides basic calculator functionality; no fancy frills. The next mode, Scientific, provides a ton more options for trigonometry, logarithms, algebra and other advanced math. The best feature though is the third mode, Converter. This allows you to select common units of measurement and convert them to other units. I use this all the time in the kitchen.

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Sound Recorder

Sound Recorder App
Image courtesy of Microsoft. Robert Kingsley

The Sound Recorder is about the most basic app you’ll ever see. There are no options, no special features, no frills. There is one button which you tap or click to begin recording. It may not be fancy, but it can be useful.

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Food & Drink

Food and Drink App
Image courtesy of Microsoft. Robert Kingsley

Food & Drink is a pretty excellent new application for home cooks. On the surface, it’s a simple app for finding new recipes, but it goes deeper than that if you dig.

Browse through the available recipe list to find interesting things to cook. See something you like? You can save it to your recipe list. Next, set up a meal plan using your recipes to map out what you’ll cook all week. Think that’s cool? Try the shopping list feature which will look at the recipes you’ve chosen and combine them into an easy to follow shopping list you can take to the store. It’s really helpful.

Keep digging and you’ll find sections for wines and spirits you can combine with your meals and a tips section to provide helpful advice and basic recipes for beginner cooks.

Perhaps the best feature of Food & Drink is that it showcases a new feature for Windows 8.1; hands-free navigation. Select a recipe and tap “Hands Free Mode” and you’ll be able to page through the recipe just by waving your hand in front of your device’s camera. No more fingerprints or gummy keyboards.

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Health & Fitness

Health and fitness app
Image courtesy of Microsoft. Robert Kingsley

Health & Fitness is an expansive personal health application that will help you take charge of you get healthy and stay that way.

This app has a calorie tracker to help with your diet, workout selections to help you get in shape, a symptom checker to make sure you’re paranoid (or help you know if you need a doctor) and a ton of educational material to ensure you know enough to be healthy.

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Reading List

Reading List App
Image courtesy of Microsoft. Robert Kingsley

Reading List is a new app that helps you maintain a list of articles you may want to read in the future. As you browse the web using IE or another modern app browser you may come across something that interests you, but that you don’t have time to read immediately.

Head to the Share charm and click “Reading List” to bookmark the article for later use. Reading List allows you to categorize your links to help keep things organized as well.

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Help + Tips

Help and Tips app
Image courtesy of Microsoft. Robert Kingsley

Windows 8.1 makes a lot of changes to the way Windows works. Windows 8 users will notice the difference immediately, users from older versions of Windows will be completely lost.

Windows 8.1 extends a helping hand to users who can seem to find their way around in the form of the Help + Tips app. Go here for a bunch of helpful advice and tutorials on how to get the most out of Windows 8.1. This app is very helpful for new users when it comes to finding your bearings.

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There's More if You Look

Though the list above mentions all of the new apps bundled with Windows 8.1, there are also a ton of new features tacked on to existing apps. The Store and Mail app have been overhauled completely to make them easier to use and more feature complete. Xbox Live Music has a much more intuitive interface that is much more user-friendly. Camera and Photos have both gotten a list of new features to help you take better photos and tweak them easier. Dig around and you’ll find that installing Windows 8.1 makes most of your existing bundled apps better.