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Windows Store Weekly: New apps arrive in UWP form, and the promise of more to come

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.

This week has been a pretty good one for the Windows Store, and there have been a number of pleasant surprises in the form of new UWP apps, with the new Instagram Beta being probably the biggest one. You can check our hands-on with the new app here, and download here (although it's only available on phones at the moment), but the short story is that it still has a ways to go before it's ready to be your primary Instagram client.

The app may indeed be an iOS port, but it was built by using Facebook's own 'Osmeta' tools instead of Project Islandwood. It currently suffers from stability problems, and is limited to ARM hardware only, which is why you can't try it yet on x86 devices such as laptops and desktops.

Next up is Autodesk's AutoCAD 360 app, which is now a UWP app with a complete UI overhaul, improved canvas performance, and a number of bug fixes and stability improvements. For those of you looking to view, edit and share AutoCAD drawings across different devices, grab the free AutoCAD 360 app from here and get productive, regardless of whether you work offline or online.

Another high-profile app to land on the Windows Store in UWP form is the official NCAA March Madness Live app. The app now features a new responsive design along with Live Tile support, is "ready to deliver every tip-off, layup, 3-pointer and slam-dunk of this year’s NCAA Tournament", and you can grab it here.

If you are someone who likes hoarding files not only on local storage, but cloud storage as well, you may be interested to know that MediaFire now has a Universal Windows App, with great features such as Automatic Backup, music and video streaming from your cloud storage, and more. You can easily get up to 50GB of free storage, and MediaFire's 1TB plan will only run you $3.79 per month if billed annually.

You can definitely kill some time on your Windows 10 tablet or smartphone with a simple, yet addictive game called 'Pop the Lock', in which you have to tap in sequence to pop the lock. Don't make any mistakes, or you'll have to start from the beginning!

Based on feedback from users, AccuWeather has completely redesigned its free Windows 10 app, hoping it'll be your go-to place for "the very latest in weather news and information". The new version has several UI refinements and performance improvements, supports 'dark' mode, and better integration with Cortana, the digital assistant in Windows 10.

For those of you who are not familiar with Dailymotion, some may consider it "the French Youtube". This week, the Dailymotion universal app has received an update which may only consist of polishing and bug fixes for the initial version that landed in the Store a little over a month ago, bringing a complete UI redesign and a slew of features, including personalized suggestions, a moveable in-app mini-player, and integration with Cortana for voice search.

From popular Microsoft MVP Rudy Huyn came an update to the Dropbox app for Windows 10, which extended support to include mobile devices, as well as Windows Continuum, and an all-new camera upload feature. Users who still have Windows 8.1 on their PCs and Windows Phone 8.1 on their phones have a reason to be happy too, as the version of the app that runs on their devices has been upgraded with several features from the Windows 10 version.

At least some of you Twitter addicts out there should be familiar with Aeries, a powerful third-party Twitter client with tons of customization options, and - very important- it's a Universal Windows App. An ambitious project - but still very much a work in progress - it has received a very large update that includes a lot of fixes for potential deal-breakers, as it is a paid app, albeit very affordable at just $2.99:

  • Fixed a crash when trying to view the details of a deleted tweet.
  • Fixed interaction with video controls and restored close on tap/click
  • Fixed issues where the actions drop-down could not be opened on a tweet.
  • Fixed an issue where manually starting streaming could cause you to miss out on a few tweets.
  • Improved streaming stability.
  • Improved performance and caching of user profiles.
  • Added expand button to quick reply on mobile, it’s now easier to send more elaborate replies!
  • Fixed an issue where the live tile may not be getting updated in some cases.
  • Fixed an issue where syncing save read position between devices could cause the position to get stuck or display an incorrect number of unread tweets.
  • Debugging and logging improvements to help me get fixes to you faster!
  • Fixed issue where quick reply send button could seem unresponsive.
  • Auto-suggestions now don’t echo what you have currently typed.
  • Fixed some issues where autosuggestion can get stuck in the wrong state.

Fresh and Promising

It is no secret that the Windows Store needs a bigger pool of quality apps, and we'd like to show you a few new apps that might not look like much right now, but just might stand a chance of rising above the noise, provided that developers keep improving them, so be sure to give them quality feedback!

The ACG Media player is an ambitious project and while it's not up there with the likes of VLC for Windows 10 in terms of quality and usability, it is at least worth a look. The app features the ability to customize subtitle fonts, cast videos to your TV, and has been receiving a constant stream of updates, so things may well improve enough to make it your go-to media player.

If you are an anime fan who enjoys binge-watching, Funimation has recently launched a Universal Windows App called FunimationNow, which requires a free ad-supported (and pretty limited) or paid subscription to access a library of over 400 shows. Other than that, the app is pretty similar to its iOS and Android counterparts.

Finally, there is a new browser app in the Windows Store called Blueflap, made by an independent French developer with the tagline "The browser that looks like you". It's certainly an interesting concept for a beta, but we'll leave it up to you to judge if you like it or not. It has no shortage of features, including:

  • Customizable UI (including dark theme)
  • Browser Favorites
  • Password protection (potentially useful in multi-user use cases)
  • "SearchFight", a feature for comparing search results from different search engines
  • Sharing links
  • Memos (web notes, not working in the current version)
  • Support for multiple windows (doesn't support tabs)

Things to come

There are also Windows 10 apps which are currently in the making, and here you have a round-up of leaks and promises.

WhatsApp is currently testing a beta version of the app with a limited pool of users, and there is a report on AppRaisin that a recent update has brought a few significant changes, such as the ability to send larger videos, as well as documents. The new version of the popular app is not yet available, but when it arrives, it should be ad-free and subscription-free.

After throwing Windows users under the bus last year, Bank of America (BoA) has recently announced that it will launch a Windows 10 app "very soon", which is indeed good news for those of you who have been waiting for a proper way to do your banking with them. It's also important to note that BoA is one of Microsoft's biggest enterprise customers to commit to migrating to Windows 10 as soon as possible, as well as making sure they don't compromise security in the process.

We already know that Facebook has been beta-testing its own app for a while now (and there's already a landing page for it in the Windows Store), which is not to be confused with Microsoft's beta app for mobile devices. Last Sunday, one Redditor participating in the closed-beta test revealed that the app is running "really well", and that it had received an update that includes support for the new Reactions feature.

Facebook is also working on a new Messenger app for Windows 10, and sure enough someone has leaked images and a video showcasing the progress of its development so far. It looks very similar to Messenger for iPad, and there's no indication as to when it will be released. There's a landing page for it in the Windows Store, but it's currently usable for just a limited pool of testers.

Lastly, Microsoft's beta Authenticator app has been spotted in the Windows Store, hinting at new ways to unlock your Windows 10 device using your phone, and more. Here at Neowin, we'd like to know: what apps/games do you want on Windows 10 that are not available yet? Sound off in the comments section below.

If you're interested in the bigger picture of this week in the tech world, have a bite of our 7 Days feature, and if you have the time, there's plenty of interesting discussion on our vibrant community forums.

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