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The 12 Best Free Windows 10 Apps

Windows 10 lets you obtain apps that run on differing devices from, says Paul Rigby, phones to laptops and tablets to high-powered desktop PCs The 12 Best Free Windows 10 Apps

Windows has apps and an app store. A lot of people may not realise that, but it’s one of the big features that Windows 10 inherited from Windows 8. The apps in the store are lightweight, touch-friendly and can run either full-screen or windowed. Updates are handled automatically and you can install apps purchased on multiple devices.

Universal apps have some other benefits over traditional PC programs, too. They can interact with Windows’s built-in notification and sharing features. They can display current info on live tiles in the Start menu—handy for things like weather, sports and messaging. They’re also vetted for security and quality and run in their own sandboxes so as not to affect the rest of the operating system.

But the most appealing aspect of universal apps may be their ability to run on a wide variety of devices, from smartphones to tablets to laptops to powerful desktop PCs to game consoles and eventually the HoloLens 3D extended-reality headset.

Universal Windows apps mean you can acquire an app for all of these device types at once, from the same app store, called the Windows Store (where you also find games, music, movies and TV shows).

More existing apps are also being converted to Universal apps. For example, several of the top Windows apps, including Facebook, Pandora and Microsoft’s own OneDrive recently made the transition.

Dropbox

Free, subscription fee for additional storage

Dropbox is probably less essential now that OneDrive is included with Windows and Windows Phone but for users who’ve become accustomed to Dropbox, there’s a universal app. This excellent cloud storage and syncing app not only lets you download files from your Dropbox but also lets you view documents and photos. You can favourite items by tapping a star and the app can act as an auto-uploader for any photos shot on the device on which it’s installed.

Duolingo

Free

This popular language-learning app is now available as a Windows Universal app. Get the same drills you’ve come to expect on your PC, with 16 languages to choose from for English speakers. You get the same progression through difficulty levels, starting by simply choosing the picture of the word in the other language and hearing it spoken, then you move on to typing translations and more. Setup is simple too.

Ebay

Free

The premier online auction house offers a simple Universal Windows app that does what you need it to. You can search for items with good filtering options, see items you’re watching, sell items, all in a very clear, touchable interface. Of course, notifications about bidding activity in the Windows Action Center and sharing through the standard share panel are good reasons to use an app rather than the service’s perfectly serviceable website.

Foursquare

Free

The app doesn’t even require an account but if you do become a regular user, it can learn your tastes. You can save favourite places, leave tips about them or just like or dislike them. The large tile design is eminently touchable and swipe-able and Bing Maps integration means you’ll never have trouble finding your next palatepleasing venue.

Facebook Messenger

Free

If you want all your messages on all your devices, no matter their operating system or size, it’s hard to do better than Facebook Messenger. It boasts apps for iOS, Android, Web and Windows. The Windows Universal app features easy navigation between your conversations, along with media options like photos, voice recording and GIFs. As with many Universal apps, integrated notifications are a big plus when it comes to messaging.

Fresh Paint

Free, with in-app purchases

This drawing app has long been one of the most impressive Windows modern apps. It supports five multitouch finger points and offers realistic paint, watercolour and pencil textures for your digital drawing. Packs of line drawings and cartoons offer prefab starting points in case you’re lacking inspiration. You also get a choice of a dozen canvas and paper textures. Once you’re done, you can export your masterpiece to a PNG file or easily send it to email and social networks. This is a highly polished app, with impressively real-looking paint.

Picsart

Free, with in-app purchases

This app offers perhaps the most ways to dress up digital images. You can work on pictures from your camera roll or online accounts. It’s easy to add text, clipart and endless effects to photos or even start drawing from scratch. Collage creation is one of this app’s strengths, too. You even get Photoshopstyle selection, masking and tone curve adjustments. And there are enough filters to put Instagram to shame. Noise reduction, blemish fixing and blur effects.

Polarr

Free

Polarr is a Lightroom-style photography app. It offers raw camera file import, lots of lighting and colour adjustments and a clear, touchfriendly interface. It also boasts a wealth of effect filters and, if you get the paid Pro version, you can even create your own. A Guide mode is a great helper for showing you how to improve your digital photos.

The Weather Channel

Free

Windows’s included Weather app is perfectly serviceable but if you want more bells and whistles, The Weather Channel has you covered. Easily access multiple locations, see animated weather maps, read weather news and watch weather videos. The app can even notify you about severe weather, rain or breaking news. The app takes advantage of Cortana voice control, so you can say to your computer “Show me forecast videos.” or “Show me weather at work.”

Twitter

Free

The Twitter Universal app supports everything you expect in a mobile app for the microblogging service, including multiple accounts, lists, video, pictures (with people tagging) and location. You can save drafts, edit your profiles, and choose between light and dark themes. The app will of course generate notifications and you can set it up to display new tweets on the lock screen and Start menu tile. Account switching is nice, too.

Viber

Free, with in-app purchases

Another excellent service in the communications genre, Viber offers Skype-like video calling and calling to standard telephones but, unlike Skype and Facebook Messenger, it requires a mobile phone number and the app installed on that phone in order to work. You can also view public chats manned by celebrities or interest groups. And as with Facebook Messenger, there’s an extensive sticker market. Cool Windows 10 capability: the Viber app lets you reply to text messages right from the Action Center notification.

VLC

Free

The open-source multi-format video player comes to the Windows Store. VLC instantly finds and can play just about any kind of video or music on your PC or Windows Mobile device. It’s interface is simple and clear. Just don’t expect all of the features of the traditional Windows VLC program, such as video effects and file conversion. It does let you add media folder locations, choose caption formats and use hardware decoding, however. For music playback, VLC also offers 17 equaliser presets, from classical to techno. Read more like this

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