Editorial

The "Modern" apps that Windows 8 needs right now

When Windows 8 officially launched in late October 2012, there were about 9,000 "Modern" apps available for download from the Windows Store. While those numbers increased by quite a bit by the end of 2012, the rate of new apps added to the store has slowed considerably in 2013.

However, it should not be just a numbers game for Windows 8 apps; it should also be about apps that are both well designed and offer cool features. The Windows Store is full of apps that are, for lack of a better term, not very good, but you could also say that of the iOS and Android app catalog.

A month ago, our own Andy Weir gave readers a chance to offer their thoughts on this subject, and it generated a ton of comments and some great suggestions. I have my own thoughts on this issue, along with my predictions on when, or even if, these apps will be released.

Official Facebook app

There's a ton of third party Facebook apps, both free and paid versions, in the Windows Store as we speak, and some of them are quite popular. That's a huge sign that Windows 8 PC owners want a quick and easy way to access their Facebook account without having to go to the standard Facebook website.

The chance of an official Facebook app is remote, even though Microsoft has partnered with Facebook in other matters such as its Bing integration. A few months ago a spokesperson for Facebook stated, "We only build the iOS and Android FB apps. You should check in with Microsoft on anything related to Windows 8." It's possible that Microsoft could develop a Facebook Windows 8 app on its own, as it did for Windows Phone.

Official Twitter app

As with Facebook, there are also quite a number of third party Twitter apps in the Windows Store section, which again shows that Windows 8 users don't want to just surf to the Twitter.com site in IE10. The good news? Twitter confirmed in late October it is indeed working on an official Windows 8 app. The bad news? It's been nearly four months since that announcement and we have no word from either Microsoft or Twitter about a launch date.

Official YouTube app

We are sounding like we are a broken record at this point, but the truth hurts. There are lots of third party YouTube apps in the Windows Store, including a few in the top 10 paid and free Windows 8 app list. There's no doubt that there is an audience for an app so Windows 8 owners can check up on the latest funny-cute cat videos or the latest Minecraft clips.

While YouTube's owner, Google, has released a Google Search app for Windows 8, they have since indicated they have no plans to offer any more apps for the OS, which would also seem to rule out a dedicated Gmail and Google Maps app. However, a Google executive did add that the company might reconsider that decision if the market share for Windows 8 apps grows, so there's still a chance we could see an official YouTube app released after all.

Pandora

While there are many other streaming music apps available for Windows 8, such as Spotify and iHeartRadio, Pandora is still the one that's the most popular among iOS and Android users. We think it would a welcome addition to the Windows 8 store.

There's actually reason to believe that this will in fact happen. Pandora has already announced plans to launch a Windows Phone 8 app sometime in early 2013 so it stands to reason that it could also be developing one for Windows 8 as well.

Instagram

The photo sharing app continues to gain popularity on iOS and Android product so it would also seem to be something that Windows 8 owners would jump at the chance to download and use. There are also a few third party Instagram apps in the Windows Store already.

Since Instagram is now owned by Facebook, we should assume that the development of a dedicated Windows 8 app is about on the same track as an official Facebook app. That basically means we shouldn't hold our breath for an app anytime in the near future.

Major sports league apps

Watching sports on TV just by itself is passe now; it's all about the "second screen" experience now as fans watch games while also using their smartphone and tablets to get more information about games. Yet the Windows Store is extremely lacking in terms of major sports leagues offering up its own apps. Sure, you can download sports news from the ESPN app, but where are the official NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA or PGA apps for the OS?

At the moment, the only US major sports leagues that have dedicated Windows 8 apps are NASCAR and Major League Soccer (ok, you can also get the official WWE Windows 8 app, but we really can't call it a "sport"). Microsoft needs to make a bigger push for the major sports organizations to join the Windows 8 app store, and soon.

Temple Run games

The free-to-play "endless running games" from developer Imangi Studios have been downloaded tens of millions of times for iOS and Android, and for good reason; they are fun and addictive games. It would seem a natural for Windows 8 owners to enjoy as well.

We actually did contact Imangi Studios a few weeks ago after the launch of Temple Run 2 to ask if the games would make their way to Windows 8, and we were told by their spokesperson that they have no such plans in the works.  Hopefully the small development team will change their minds, or at the very least allow another team to port the Temple Run games to Windows 8 at some point.

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61 Comments

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I agree with the bulk of the apps that Windows 8 need, but I stopped reading at Temple Run, and it discredits the entire article, imo. Platform Y does not need whatever fad hit game that platform X has - it will never have the same effect, it will never be as popular, and it will always seem like a me-too effort. What platform Y needs is its own, unique, original hit title. And every time I read that platform Y needs (angry birds, tiny wings, jetpack joyride, angry birds space, temple run), I just sigh. There's no intrinsic value to any of those games that makes them especially amazing. They're good enough, and certainly enjoyable enough, and hit the big time on a bit of luck. It happens. But don't put them on a pedestal, and certainly don't put them in a 'must have' list. I assure you they will not make or break a platform.

What Microsoft really, really should do, it capitalise on their Xbox brand and valued IP - titles like Temple Run will come to pass. But if Microsoft made Halo (the very first one), Halo Wars, or any Halo title on Windows 8, they would be on to something of a winner. And that's what this article should have contained, really.

+1
MS was so smart to promote Windows Vista when they launched Halo 2 for Vista.

About temple run, it is funny for at most, 5 minutes, then it is repetitive.

I don't understand why all these companies wont make a program/app for windows 8. Is microsofts new OS!? what am I missing. Its microsoft, every OS so far has been huge in comparison to everything else.
I don't get it. I thought they would be jumping to get their early.

Face Book should really make an 8/RT app and find a way to slip some ads in, if Microsoft do their own it's goodbye cash stream. Google won't help out with Yoube since they're **** bags besides look at the current browsers interface for Youtube JESH!! MS should talk with the company that make MetroTube for Windows Phone. Twitter and Instagram couldn't give a rats.

I'm sorry, but Windows 8 does not need Apps like Temple Run. I have a tablet and a phone for that. Real games that take advantage of my 2560x1400 screen is what we need. Why does everyone insist on turning a personal computer into a mobile on the run device?

These are the ones we need?
Gah. Get an iPad if you want these apps. Microsoft needs it's own unique apps, not a port of what's already out there.

These are modern apps? Where are the high functionality apps that will fundamentally change the way I use my PC? These are games and social applications, I want to see productivity and office software in Modern form and if they cant be made I wont be surprised.

sidroc said,
These are modern apps? Where are the high functionality apps that will fundamentally change the way I use my PC? These are games and social applications, I want to see productivity and office software in Modern form and if they cant be made I wont be surprised.

They can be made and are being made. OneNote MX is a great example. This article doesn't focus on that category.

"Windows 8 market share is already low…"

What a dumb thing to say. Every product when it is initially launched has a market share of zero. Windows 8 is growing faster than any other OS.

Yeah. On a Surface Pro, even with a full Adobe Creative Suite installed (which I don't have, because I'm not a creative professional nor a drug baron with unlimited funds), I would still buy all the Adobe touch apps. Why? Because they're pretty decent, very easy and quick to pick up and use, and still have value for more accessible, 'casual' use than their desktop counterparts. Windows 8 needs these.

Pandora is only big in the states, they got blocked in Europe ages ago. And Instagram makes no sense on a desktop/tablet anyway. The first three all work better in a browser than an app anyway.

As for temple run, there's already plenty of fun little games on the store. I don't think the lack of one will kill anyone.

And Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are blocked in China - a market bigger than the USA and EU combined. Maybe Microsoft is focusing on where the customers are?

I hate to be a pain but the NFL Mobile is on windows phone but only Verizon and Windows phone 8, So it should not be that hard to bring it to windows 8, and I think the only reason its on windows phone is Nokia.

Ezekiel Carsella said,
Imangi Studios is stupid not to develop for a market of 60 million + people

The actual market for Metro apps is presumably smaller, if a certain percentage of Windows 8 users either don't use or wouldn't pay for Metro apps.

Edited by Deactivated., Feb 17 2013, 11:22pm :

dagamer34 said,
Temple Run 2 is free.

Yeah, I must have missed that. Sort of invalidates my point about paid apps, I guess.

How do they make money though? Is it advertising-supported?

CSharp. said,

Yeah, I must have missed that. Sort of invalidates my point about paid apps, I guess.

How do they make money though? Is it advertising-supported?

More likely in-app purchases.

Totally agree with this ^^

There's quite a few websites I'd love to have an 'app' that was nothing more than a live tile with a link to the desktop site (in the desktop browser).

I have absolutely no interest in using terrible full screen applications, but the live tiles are cool =)

Sorry I meant apps in general, I just used Facebook as an example out of convenience.

For example I'd also find it cool to have a neowin.net live tile which told me how many articles I haven't read with a preview of the latest, which just opened neowin in a browser on click.

An operating system, "presumably" made for personal computers, NEEDS apps made for mobile phones. How worse can it get?

You forget that Windows 8 was also made for tablets, not just personal computers. Have you ever tried using some of the websites talked about here with only touch? No, I bet not. They're painful to use, therefore we need apps. Also apps give you the advantage of search and share unification with the OS.

Tablets are replacing old PCs. Look at the numbers. Mac sales were down 22%, Windows PCs down 6-8% and this is just the beginning. MS can't wait until market share for PCs is nil before they begin building a software catalog for tablets. Skating to where the puck is going to be, not to where the puck was.

TCLN Ryster said,
You forget that Windows 8 was also made for tablets, not just personal computers. Have you ever tried using some of the websites talked about here with only touch? No, I bet not. They're painful to use, therefore we need apps. Also apps give you the advantage of search and share unification with the OS.

Why so focussed on APPS entirely, just make websites that support the live tile feature and be done with it.

Tablets are replacing old PCs. Look at the numbers. Mac sales were down 22%, Windows PCs down 6-8% and this is just the beginning. MS can't wait until market share for PCs is nil before they begin building a software catalog for tablets. Skating to where the puck is going to be, not to where the puck was. "

OK. But smartphone sales were down 9% globally last quarter. Should everyone now ignore phones?

Setnom said,
An operating system, "presumably" made for personal computers, NEEDS apps made for mobile phones. How worse can it get?

quite sad actually

tablets are not replacing PCs, what you fail to realize that everyone has a PC, people don't buy new PCs as often because they is no reason to, technology slowed down a bit, a PC that was bought 5 years ago, for average person is still enough to browse the web and do email. Tablets are a new trend, and not everyone has them, so sales are up compared to device that everyone has already

The original MS versions of the games in Win7 (Solitaire, Freecell, Minesweeper etc). Great for a quick fix after a couple of hours of concentrated productive work, and the MS versions were neat. When I installed Win8, my 100% Freecell score was lost.

But ... they need to be running in windowed mode, not in fullscreen. For systems with large monitors, enforcing fullscreen-only is ridiculous and a retrograde step (like the old DOS days). MS, your product is called 'Windows', not 'Screen'.
Fullscreen-only is not "Modern" at all. Not metro but retro.

Edited by gb8080, Feb 17 2013, 11:49pm :

gb8080 said,
The original MS versions of the games in Win7 (Solitaire, Freecell, Minesweeper etc). Great for a quick fix after a couple of hours of concentrated productive work, and the MS versions were neat. When I installed Win8, my 100% Freecell score was lost.

But ... they need to be running in windowed mode, not in fullscreen. For systems with large monitors, enforcing fullscreen-only is ridiculous and a retrograde step (like the old DOS days). MS, your product is called 'Windows', not 'Screen'.
Fullscreen-only is not "Modern" at all. Not metro but retro.

bravo, probably first intellegent comment.

these "modern" apps are couple hundred steps back.

You're entitled to your opinion, but you obviously have not used a Windows 8 devices yet it seems It has something called Internet Explorer 10, or IE10 for short and it has the option to pin URLs to the Start Screen as a tile.. So say you enter http://touch.facebook.com and log in, then pin the URL to your Start Screen and presto.. You have a working Facebook access app read to go at your leisure.. Same goes for Twitter and Oh.. wait for it.. Instagram, YouTube and some others..

And oh before I forget.. Windows 8 (Pro) runs Android apps just fine.. I have my bank's android app pinned to the Start Screen and some others I need. So it's no issue really. Last I checked Android did have a bit of an issue running Office though.. But that's a native app for me so no problem really. NetFlix also way better for Windows 8, I mean it's no competition really..

So you were saying?

paulheu said,
You're entitled to your opinion, but you obviously have not used a Windows 8 devices yet it seems It has something called Internet Explorer 10, or IE10 for short and it has the option to pin URLs to the Start Screen as a tile.. So say you enter http://touch.facebook.com and log in, then pin the URL to your Start Screen and presto.. You have a working Facebook access app read to go at your leisure.. Same goes for Twitter and Oh.. wait for it.. Instagram, YouTube and some others..

And oh before I forget.. Windows 8 (Pro) runs Android apps just fine.. I have my bank's android app pinned to the Start Screen and some others I need. So it's no issue really. Last I checked Android did have a bit of an issue running Office though.. But that's a native app for me so no problem really. NetFlix also way better for Windows 8, I mean it's no competition really..

So you were saying?

Pinning a shortcut is hardly the same as a full fledged app lol

touch.facebook.com? You mean the site that was designed for screens about 4 inches? Yeah, that'll look amazing on a tablet!

paulheu said,
You're entitled to your opinion, but you obviously have not used a Windows 8 devices yet it seems It has something called Internet Explorer 10, or IE10 for short and it has the option to pin URLs to the Start Screen as a tile.. So say you enter http://touch.facebook.com and log in, then pin the URL to your Start Screen and presto.. You have a working Facebook access app read to go at your leisure.. Same goes for Twitter and Oh.. wait for it.. Instagram, YouTube and some others..

And oh before I forget.. Windows 8 (Pro) runs Android apps just fine.. I have my bank's android app pinned to the Start Screen and some others I need. So it's no issue really. Last I checked Android did have a bit of an issue running Office though.. But that's a native app for me so no problem really. NetFlix also way better for Windows 8, I mean it's no competition really..

So you were saying?

Websites arent touch friendly.

I'm expecting the next couple of years website to become both mouse and touch friendly... why pay to develop a website and an App when you can have just one.

Order_66 said,

Pinning a shortcut is hardly the same as a full fledged app lol


The facebook apps on other platforms use the facebook website. With a few extra hooks here and there. But its the website you're looking at when checking your feed or chatting.

Most apps are just websites anyways.

And the good thing about pinned sites is, they can act like a live tile exactly the same as a normal app. (although the website has to support it in order for it to work.)

MidTxWRX said,

Websites arent touch friendly.

You realised the bro you quoted linked to touch.facebook.com and you actually made that comment? It's a _touch_friendly_ version of Facebook's site intended for mobile devices like phones and tablets. I lol'd

paulheu said,

And oh before I forget.. Windows 8 (Pro) runs Android apps just fine..

Please, define fine. Slow?, resource hog?, unstable?, incompatible with most applications?.

and btw, Bluestack started as a windows 7/vista applications so, it is not need to own a surface pro for try it.

Ryano121 said,
It doesn't need any because modern apps are stupid.

They're stupid? The apps lack intelligence and common sense?

Ryano121 said,
It doesn't need any because modern apps are stupid.

True the Metro apps are like glorified Flash/Web2.0 apps at best, with a tard tile interface designed by honey boo boo. But lets take the list one at a time:

Facebook: Not gonna happen. They already stated "no plans for a Metro app".

Twitter: Not gonna happen. They indicated maybe they'd do a client back when W8 launched but since nobody's buying it, let alone RT, put it on the "wait and see" shelf.

Youtube: Not gonna happen. Google stated "no plans."

Pandora: Not gonna happen. They stated "low user base" as their reason.

Instagram: Not gonna happen for the same reason Facebook official won't happen, obviously FB owns Instagram.

I think the writing is on the wall -- outside of a handful of MS apologists living in the Redmond Distortion Field, most people can see Metro isn't going to happen.

Is there any functionality that a 3rd party app doesn't have access to that a first party one would? If so, then MS needs to simply start building their own. They took a big bite, time to learn to chew. If only for the WP8 devices.

Edited by Dashel, Feb 18 2013, 7:39pm :

Dashel said,
Is there any functionality that a 3rd party app doesn't have access to that a first party one would?

derp its called API, and 99% of them are closed and only given out to partners that the owner deems worthy.

So basically, the platform needs everything that every other mobile platform already has

It doesn't need Foursquare since it's not really designed for desktop/PC use, and I think that stuff like Spotify and Last.fm need "Modern UI" apps.

I honestly don't understand the need for "official" apps. Official apps are rarely ever the best choice. More likely than not one of the thousands of app developers in the world can come up with the best application and that is what most people should use. Sites like this should be helping users find the best application for a service, not just pointing people to the official apps.

Personally, I prefer official apps because
a) I feel I can trust them easier, I'd rather not enter my facebook password in 3rd party apps.
b) Companies like facebook can afford to spend a lot of time and money on an app to get it right. Not saying they do, but they can.

Official apps are IMO the better, more trusted choice, in MOST cases. Every unofficial Facebook app I've used has been terrible. For instance, MyPad for the iPad (rhyme not intentional ). It did the job ok, but the messages interface was absolutely terrible, as it couldn't seem to handle the new (at its time) threaded conversation format.

I couldn't see there ever being an unofficial Spotify app for instance, one app I really craved when I had Win 8 installed (before the random BSODs drove me to downgrade back to W7 -_-)