I’ve been using Microsoft Surface with Windows RT for 2 months now. I was lucky to get one at the Build conference and while I still think a dedicated tablet doesn’t have a place in my life, but since I already got it I’ve been using it and warmed up to the idea a little.
Surface is not perfect, user experience is not perfect, but it improved pretty dramatically over the past 2 months and it gets updates frequently. There’s no need to post another Surface review, so rather than doing that I decided to cover the apps I’ve been using on it.
I’m not going to cover built-in apps. Most of them are pretty basic at best. I’ll only cover apps that I’ve installed from the store. And I’ve downloaded a lot of them. But I’ll only list the apps I actually use regularly.
The order is pretty random and is based on the order of these apps on my start screen. Prices are for US store as of January 3rd, 2012. Screenshots are linked to the store.
Tweetro+ ($4.99, no trial)
Whatever I do on the Surface I usually have Tweetro+ snapped to the side. Conceptually I may like Metrotwit better, but as far as polish goes, Tweetro+ is the best Twitter client on Windows 8/RT at the moment.
Well, Skype is Skype. Not much to add here. It was very raw when Surface was released but it got an update or two since then and is pretty fine now.
Old habits die hard and I still have a few friends with ICQ as our primary communication channel.
Nextgen Reader ($2.99 with unrestrained trial)
Arguably the best RSS reader at the moment with two way sync with Google Reader. It has some stability issues and a few other quirks which hopefully will be addressed soon (I’m going to send my list to the developers). Nothing major though and it’s safe to say Nextgen Reader is my second most used app after Tweetro.
HackerNews Reader ($1.49 with ad supported unrestricted trial)
Well, the name says it all. I didn’t research if HackerNews Reader is the best, but for an occasional user like me it does the job just fine.
While it doesn’t do everything its desktop counterpart does, it’s pretty close. It also features a really innovative and well thought out UX unlike some other Microsoft apps (Mail, I’m looking at you!). OneNote is a living proof that pretty complex Metro apps can be done and can be a joy to use.
Official Trello app does a great job as the Metro companion for the Trello web app. Even though it doesn’t do everything the web app does, it definitely looks better ;) And in case you don’t know what Trello is, in their own words “Trello is a collaboration tool that organizes your projects into boards. In one glance, Trello tells you what's being worked on, who's working on what, and where something is in a process.”
Strangely enough Windows 8/RT comes without a bundled Metro calculator. Calculator2 was one of the first apps to fill the gap and it does it pretty well for my needs that I never had a need to look for anything else. Plus it uses AdDuplex which doesn’t hurt either ;) If for some reason you look for alternatives check out Calculator X8 made by Gergely Orosz.
Timer & Stop Watch (free)
We always tend to go over time on AppBizDev podcast so I needed a simple way to track time. I’ve tried quite a few stopwatch apps and this one was the simplest and does exactly what I need it to do.
NovaMind Mind Mapping (free + feature IAPs (up to $14.99))
Mind mapping is a fancy way to replace bulleted lists when brainstorming, taking notes etc. NovaMind is the best app, imho, to do that on the Surface. The core app is free and lets you do all the basic stuff. You can buy extra features ranging from saving to SkyDrive to checkboxes to extra themes.
PrimeTube is a really nice YouTube client. One of the reasons you want a YouTube client is that it keeps playing when you switch to some other app (unlike Internet Explorer). The only issue I have with PrimeTube is that it doesn’t play fullscreen when in Filled mode (with other app snapped to the side of the screen).
mobile.HD Media Player ($3.49 with time limited trial)
It’s no secret that the default video player is not able to play your absolutely legally obtained MKV video files ;) That’s where mobile.HD Media Player comes in. So far it was able to play everything I’ve thrown at it. It also plays the files over the network. I didn’t do exhaustive testing though, but as far as I can tell, I have no real-life need for the much hyped VLC player at the moment.
Fresh Paint (free)
Fresh Paint is a finger (stylus?) painting app from Microsoft. A couple of ugly paintings I’ve used in earlier posts were made with it.
Files&Folders is a nice file manager. Not that I need it too often, but when I do it’s a way more touch friendly way to manage files than Windows Explorer.
That’s it. Do not hesitate to suggest better alternatives to what I use or other great apps in the comments.