There is no doubt that I have been a major proponent of Windows 8 since its initial inception. As a developer, the new Windows Store APIs for .NET make things very easy, truly shortening the development cycle, far below the other mobile platforms. As a designer, the style guidelines, based on Staatliches Bauhaus principles, make for elegant, easy to navigate user experiences. As a user, centralizing common tasks makes it easy to know how to do those activities, such as changing application settings or searching for content.
With all of that said, there has been one thing that has truly been holding back Windows 8, and more importantly Windows RT - its application catalog. While there are tons of new apps being added to the store every day, there is a list of conspicuously missing applications. This week's //Build conference in San Francisco brought to light a collection of those applications that are coming in the near to undetermined future.
This one is probably the most important, as it the most visited website on the Internet. While there are dozens of unofficial, half-hearted Facebook apps available in the store, the launch of an official application will certainly help the overall experience of Windows 8. Until now, the official answer from Microsoft was to pin Facebook's website to the Start screen, but having a native app is always better.
The only way they could screw this up is to implement the modern UI style as poorly as Twitter has. While the application is usable, it certainly doesn't follow any of the official design guidelines, which is disappointing. My hope is that Facebook's implementation will be similar to the Windows Phone 8 application and less like Twitter. There is no announced availability date.
While I have no doubt few people will be checking in on their Windows 8 tablets, the ability to research new places through your tablet and revisit places you and your friends have been is an ability that seems wonderfully useful. From what has been shown off of the application thus far, it is clearly a genuinely native application, using the live tile concept beautifully throughout the application, including user photos and recommendations interlaced with photos on the venue details page.
The actual written content conforms to the design guideline document perfectly, and would be a great application to use as the shining example of what modern applications should look like. There is no announced availability date.
While these two are the glaringly obvious titles, there are many more. Hit the break to read about some of the other big-name apps coming to Windows 8 now and in the future.
While Disney doesn't seem like a make-or-break company in the mobile space, it is important to remember that iTunes' video sales didn't really take off until Disney got behind the platform. With that said, Disney currently has Where's My Mickey? in the store, but will be bringing a flood of other titles, including franchises Avengers, Monsters University, Oz, Toy Story and Wreck-It Ralph in the near future.
One of my favorite applications I have used while on business trips is OpenTable. They have had applications on nearly every platform, from iOS and Android to Windows Phone and webOS. OpenTable's platform is important enough to the restaurant industry that celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay uses it for his own restaurants.
Similar to Foursquare, my guess is that using it on-the-go is not the intended usage, using it while sitting in a hotel room looking for a place to eat probably is. Finding a new location and making reservations from the tablet, again, will be a lot easier than doing it on the phone. The application is available in the store right now and is, of course, free.
While not a name many people think of immediately when thinking of music software, it is important to remember that Rhapsody brought the idea of monthly music subscriptions to the mainstream. The addition of Rhapsody to the Windows 8 store marks the first non-Microsoft major brand music streaming service to the platform. Unfortunately for Rhapsody, the application looks almost IDENTICAL to the current Xbox Music app. Fortunately for Rhapsody, Microsoft has completely revamped Xbox music, meaning new users will not know that the layout is ripped off wholesale.
The app is available now at a price of free, though you will need a premium account to use it. If you don't have a premium Rhapsody account, you can sign up in-app for a trial immediately.