Windows Store Weekly: 6.5 billion visits and a summer promotion

Windows Store Weekly is a weekly round-up of what's been going on in the world of Windows apps, from the most prominent and anticipated, to the bolted and patched, and the fresh and promising, while also scooping up leaks, both official and unofficial.

Another week has passed, and it’s time to dive into the most important stories about the Windows Store and the Universal Windows Platform. While there haven’t been too many new developments, you may have missed some bits, especially with all the buzz surrounding new flagship smartphones and robots coming for your job.

It’s no secret that when compared to Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store, the Windows Store is relatively quiet and doesn’t offer quite as many quality apps. Microsoft says that things are changing, touting 6.5 billion visits since the launch of Windows 10, along with a few other insights.

It’s not difficult to imagine that the company’s aggressive push for people to upgrade to Windows 10 for free has been a major contributing factor to the increase in the number of visits, but Microsoft isn't that open to talking about user retention and how all of this “interest” translates in terms of revenue for developers.

In an effort to drive more visits to the Windows Store, the Redmond giant recently launched the "Ready, Set, Summer" promotion, which offers significant discounts on popular apps, games, movies, and music. In typical Microsoft fashion, this will only be available in a few regions - but hey, can you resist grabbing Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition for just $9.99?

Updated and bolted

Fhotoroom has been updated again this week and there is good news for both Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 users, even though there aren’t any new features to talk about.

Those of you who use the app on a Windows Phone 8.1 device should know that the profile and tag layout bugs have been fixed. The user experience has been improved for Windows 10 as well, especially the window resize behavior – the app can sometimes mistake your PC for a smartphone when you resize the app, but you can now switch back to the PC UI in one click.

Readit for Windows 10 was also updated this week. The popular third-party Reddit client is now packing even more features than before, something that power users will definitely enjoy. The additions include user/subreddit tagging, importing settings from the Reddit Enhancement Suite, and some limited sync functionality:

  • Subreddit/post tagging
    • Tag subreddits like in RES
    • Adds a tag to a post if it doesn't contain the specified text (only on front page/all and multireddits)
    • The tag text is inserted at the beginning of the title just like RES
  • User tagging
    • Tag users/ignore users like in RES
    • Use the ellipsis menu for posts on desktop or right click a post in the post list
    • Use the app bar for mobile or press + hold on a post in the post list
    • Use the more menu for comments to tag users from a comment
    • Add a tag via the advanced settings page
    • Adds a tag to the user right next to the username of posts/comments so that you can tag/ignore trolls, friends, known users, etc.
    • Keeps track of total vote count - how many up/downvotes you have applied to that user since tagging them
    • Keeps count for any user you have voted on ever
  • How the tagging "ignore" feature works
    • Self text for comments, messages and posts are replaced with a message stating that the user is ignored
    • If you really want to see the self text of it, the ignored message contains a link that you can click to load the original content
  • Advanced Settings page added to the settings menu
    • Manage user tags and subreddit tags
    • RES Settings Import
    • Import settings directly from a backup of your RES settings - imports user/subreddit tags and associated data such as vote tracking numbers for users
  • Cloud Sync has been enabled
    • Syncs data using the roaming storage of your MS account (< 100 kb of data)
    • Will sync between all devices (desktop/tablet/mobile) as long as you are logged into the same MS account
    • Only syncs when an account is added/removed or on app launch
    • To force a sync, lock your device that is syncing the data to the cloud and wait 3-5 minutes. MS controls this. After the wait period, check your other device and it should have the data.
    • A sync to the cloud occurs if the local file timestamp is newer than the server version
    • A sync from the cloud only occurs if the server file timestamp is newer than the local version
    • Will sync the following:
    • /r/all filter
    • Read posts (gold not required)
    • User accounts (no passwords stored ever, not even in local storage)
      • Only syncs users down to device if there aren't any logged in
    • Subreddit tags
    • User tags
    • New comment count since the last visit of posts
    • Settings are not synced due to device differences

There are also a couple of bug fixes:

  • Fixed all filter in certain languages
  • Fixed title bar disappearing on navigation for the desktop UI

OneLocker is a promising password manager app for Windows 10, and the developer (@SergioPedri) is making the effort to update it on a regular basis. The latest update (v1.7.0) offers improved language support and UI tweaks (such as a progress ring for the login page), and you can now use Google Drive for backup and syncing.

OneLocker is a paid app ($3.99), but there’s a trial available in case you’re interested in trying it out. You can also import your passwords from other solutions like KeePass and LastPass, should you decide that it fits your needs (the demo limits the number of passwords you can add).

AccuWeather is one of the big supporters of the Windows 10 platform, as evidenced by its Weather for Life app, which is part of the “Ready, Set, Summer” promotion – offering its in-app purchases for 50% off until June 6.

The latest update was released a few days ago and features a number of interesting additions. You can now remove ads with an in-app purchase, and there are subtle animations that indicate calls to action.

Furthermore, the app will sync across devices, and a new Future Radar feature will offer interactive forecasts where you can visualize the movement and path of storms for the next two hours. If you have ideas on how the developers can improve the app, you can now share them right from the app – no trip to the Feedback Hub needed.

Groove Music was recently updated for Windows Insiders on the Fast Ring, and while there aren’t many changes, they do add to a longer list of improvements that are coming in the Anniversary Update.

If you have a Groove Music Pass subscription, the Radio section will now show the most popular stations, and you can share links to artists and their works with your friends and family.

Todoist is certainly one of the best quality apps in the Windows Store, and its developers are hard at work improving the experience – there’s also a Todoist Preview if you want to help test things ahead of their official release. The update that rolled out this week brings faster foreground syncing, a redesigned settings menu, a task history section, and initial support for filters.

As always, there have been plenty of placebo updates this week in the form of performance tweaks and bug fixes, including:

New arrivals

If you haven’t been living under a rock, you probably know about online data breaches such as the recent 427 million MySpace passwords leak. If you’re not tech-savvy, there’s a new app for Windows 10 that lets you check if you’ve been affected by any recent data breach.

It’s possible that you won’t always be up to date with such news, but the “Hacked?” app can periodically check for new breaches in the background and notify you as needed.

Microsoft’s Remote Desktop universal app for Windows 10 is no longer in preview, and will roll out gradually during the next weeks to people who are currently running the Windows 8.1 version. The new version brings support for Continuum, but mind you that it also drops some features that were previously available:

  • Multiple simultaneous connections
  • Dynamic resolution and rotation
  • Printer redirection
  • Smartcard redirection
  • Microphone support
  • Localized app (currently English only)

For those of you who are running the latest Windows 10 Insider Preview build, there is a new Edge extension you can play with: LastPass. However, getting it to install and work is a matter of luck at this point – the LastPass extension requires you to run at least build 14359, which hasn’t been released to the public.

In our testing, the LastPass extension works with build 14352 – but the UI can lock up, which requires restarting the browser to restore back to normal.

Things to come

Plex has recently announced that they are working on a universal app for Windows 10 that will align the user experience on all platforms – and you can contribute to beta testing if you want, while still being able to run the current app alongside the upcoming beta.

For those of you not familiar with Plex, it is a service that allows you to set up your own media server from which you can stream to any device that runs the Plex client app. There are no details available about the new Plex app, but you can sign up for the beta using this form.

As reported by the folks over at WinBeta, the developer of the “Black” app – a tool for photography enthusiasts – wants the community’s help to fund the development of a new universal Windows 10 app. The goal of the AppStretchAppStretch campaign is to reach $10,000 (with 24 more days to go as of the writing of this article).

The developer says his current app has been downloaded 300,000 times on Windows devices, and that the new app will have some additional functionality baked in:

1. Completely redesigned collection page

2. Three new filters: - P400 TURA EXPIRED 2002 - ACUPAN 800 PATERSON EXPIRED 1999 - N15 ORWO

3. Social sharing options

If you’re wondering how long it will take to make the app, the developer says it should take around two months of full-time work to get it done.

It’s dead, Jim

Paypal is killing its Windows app (in addition to the BlackBerry and Amazon’s Fire OS versions), which means that starting June 30 you will no longer be able to use the app on Windows devices. You'll just have to make do with using the company's mobile website in Microsoft Edge.

This is not unexpected given the fact that Microsoft’s presence in the mobile space is now at an all-time low of 0.7% market share, and the recent meltdown of its mobile business means it will likely stay that way for a good while.

We'd like to know: What apps do you use the most on your Windows 10 devices? Do you use apps on your PC? Let us know in the comments section.

This isn't everything that happened in the world of tech this week, so if you're looking for the big picture, our 7 Days feature is the place to get it. There is also plenty of discussion brewing in the forums on a wide range of topics, so head over there and join the buzz.

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