Users of Windows 10 have access to a comprehensive ecosystem that threads together phones, tablets and computers using a consistent user interface. Besides improving the interoperability of devices, Microsoft has learned from experience that the success of an operating system depends on the availability of a broad range of software. This is why you can now choose from a multitude of apps to accomplish almost any task in any setting.
In the past, phones, tablets, and PCs had required different apps or different versions of the same app to accomplish similar tasks. Windows 8.1 universal apps changed that, giving technology users a taste of a consistent, cross-platform experience. Windows 10 continues the trend toward universal apps, with Microsoft and third-party developers offering a large number of titles for use in almost every conceivable setting. Here is my pick of the best free apps currently available:
Adobe Photoshop Express
In the past, professional-grade image editing tools came at a high price and only on a computer. Now, users can work with many of the most desirable editing tools from phones and tablets without sacrificing features. Adobe offers its Photoshop Express app for free, with available in-app purchases.
Powerful, fast and easy to use, the app can capture and edit photos. The design of this app makes it easy to use with a touchscreen, allowing your fingers to straighten, rotate and crop images. Adobe includes 23 filters with this app that give it capabilities similar to Instagram and gives users a chance to buy as many as twenty additional filters for advanced effects.
Using the universal Netflix app and a Netflix subscription, users can enjoy movies, television programs and other entertainment on all their devices. Users interrupted while watching a movie or TV show on one platform can seamlessly resume play on another device. The app makes searching for content easy by title, actors or genre and offers subtitles when applicable.
Another free universal app, Flipboard gives users the ability to create customized magazines and access them through the Flipboard app on any device. To use this app, users must sign up for a free Flipboard account. From there, users have no limits except for their genius and creativity as they build subscriptions based on their interests and needs. The Flipboard server regularly fetches page updates and new material, so users have access to it whenever they log on.
An intuitive, touch-based interface allows users to organize and read their content at their convenience. The unique user interface lets users flip through pages, using their touchscreen interface. The interface also allows users to organize and sort articles for future reference. Being a universal app, users can access Flipboard from all their devices.
Manage tasks with a splash of project management with Trello. When users sign up for a free Trello account, they get a surprisingly powerful and productive tool accessible via the free Trello universal app. With this app, users can always stay in touch with their tasks, lists and responsibilities. Users can create prioritized and nested tasks and assign them to a person or resource. This universal app stays synchronized with Trello servers, so users can use Trello with any device to access up-to-date information.
The Trello app allows users to create shareable project boards to encourage collaboration and communication among friends, family members or coworkers. Lists and notes can include videos, images, comments and checklists to make managing most common tasks easy and fun.
Words with Friends
One of the most popular online games now has a free universal app. Regardless of the device you use, you can take a break from the daily rat race and try your hand at this popular word game. Similar in many ways to Scrabble, Words with Friends can create a thoughtful, creative diversion during your day. Users have the opportunity to chat with their online opponents and track scores over time to create a long-lasting competitive outlet.
Part of Office, Sway is also available as a standalone app from the Windows App Store. It allows you to create and share interactive reports, presentations, personal stories, and more. Sway will take care of formatting with its built-in design engine, you only have to add content. You can easily share your work with family, friends or coworkers without the need to sign up for or download additional software. Privacy settings also offer more control over who can view your work.
Translator is your companion when you need to overcome a language barrier. You can enter text you want to translate using your camera, voice or keyboard. More specifically: you can translate text into more than 45 languages, translate signs, menus or any printed text with your camera in an instant, and translate by speaking into your phone (requires network connection). You can also hear translations spoken with a native speaker’s accent. If you pin the Translator to your Start screen, you can improve your vocabulary with Word of the Day.
It’s still in preview phase, but using it will help improve it as it’s learning word by word. This way you can shape the future of Skype and get your video and voice calls translated as you talk. Your one-to-one voice and video chats are translated as you speak, in both directions. You choose whether you want to hear the translation or just see a transcript. If you already have Skype installed, you will have to uninstall it first to be able to install Skype Translator preview.
AccuWeather – Weather for Life
AccuWeather doesn’t really need an introduction. It’s been around and has been doing its job really well. You get access to the very latest in weather news and information with its Superior Accuracy. MinuteCast™ will give you a minute-by-minute weather forecast that is hyper-localized, letting you know if it’s raining without looking out the window. It will also warn you and give severe weather notices so you can avoid a storm.
Long-time users of Dropbox will appreciate that there is a standalone app for Windows, especially if you’ve gotten used to it. For newcomers, Dropbox will keep your photos, docs and videos in the cloud so you can access them from anywhere and share them easily. So if your device is beyond saving, your data isn’t. It’s free, but there is a subscription if you want to expand your cloud storage.