Desktop apps tend to look and behave differently to those on smartphones or tablets, something that Microsoft is looking to change with Windows 10. Microsoft’s unified operating system, which launches on Wednesday, features Universal Apps that automatically adapt to work on any Windows 10-powered device no matter what their size.
Not only will this mean your settings and preferences are carried across your devices, you’ll also receive real-time info through Live Tiles and push notifications whether you’re using a smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop - or even a wearable. In the run up to Windows 10’s official launch, we’ve picked out the best Universal Apps for Windows 10 for you to try out once you’ve made the upgrade.
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1. Adobe Photoshop Express
Taking your snaps in one app and sending them to another for editing can be a fiddly process. Adobe PhotoShop Express looks to take that pain away by proving an option to capture pictures and then edit them from within the same app, making it ease to crop, straighten, rotate, flip them, adjust their colour and remove red eye on-the-fly. The app comes with a set of filters fit for the Instagram generation, and it provides the option to store photos and videos using Adobe’s Revel cloud-based synching service.
Flipboard’s Windows 10 app lets you create personalised magazine subscriptions and access ones made on other devices. Sporting a grid-based design that feels at home on Microsoft's OS, the app lets you browse articles with a swipe of the finger (if you have a touchscreen, of course). Flipboard is the most stylish way to curate and organise news and other articles for reading later, and better yet, it's free.
3. Fresh Paint
One of Windows 10’s advantages over other operating systems is that it works in harmony with touchscreen-equipped hardware. If you’re using a device with a stylus or touchpen, such as Microsoft’s Surface 3 or the Asus T300 Chi, Fresh Paint is one of the best drawing tools out there. Featuring a decent variety of brushes, pencil and pen tips, paints and watercolours, it lets you use up to five fingers (or input devices) to create masterpieces on the display. You can pay a small amount to download more brush types, but the basic selection of tools should suffice. The app can easily export your creations as PNG files or upload them to social media websites once you’re done.
4. Music Maker Jam
Music Maker Jam is a great tool for sitting back and creating hook-laden tunes with minimal effort. It lets you choose between dubstep, house music, jazz or hiphop before selecting a number of instruments that can be controlled using its touch-operated, slider-controlled interface. You can even mix your own vocals into the app using the voice recording function and your device’s microphone.
One of the best streaming services out there, Netflix on Windows 10 means you’ll never forget where you were in a movie or TV show ever again. That's because the app remembers where you are and picks up where you left off on another device. Other features include support for multiple profiles, which lets you and other users sign in to access personal media collectiions, and the ability to enable or disable subtitles.
6. TV Catchup
TV Catchup places terrestrial channels at your fingertips. You can flick between the UK's national TV channels BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, Channel 4 and Channel 5, in addition to movies, sports, news and music channels. There's a 24-hour programme guide to help you decide what to watch, and the app makes it easy to pin your favourite channels to the Start Screen, which is now embedded in the Windows 10 Start menu.
7. Words With Friends
The game that was a social media smash is now available as a Windows 10 app. You can use a mouse on a desktop or laptop, but playing Words With Friends on a tablet or other touchscreen device is the real deal as you can pick tiles up and drop them onto the board. An in-game chat feature lets you taunt your opponent (or, if you're polite, question the range of their vocabulary), and the option to view scores by total points or average word scores removes any doubts as to who's leading the way.
The Dropbox universal app provides a more fancy way of organising your cloud-based files than loading the Dropbox site. The app automatically resizes to best display your stored contents, which can be handy if you're rocking a device with a smaller display - such as a Windows tablet. The app also lets you create and manage shared folders from wtihin the app, select multiple items using shortcuts and sync your files faster than you can using a browser. Dropbox's words, not ours.