Best Windows 8 apps this week

Eighteenth in a series. The US Windows Store slipped past the 30,000 applications mark this week and is now listing a total of 30,299 free and paid apps to Windows 8 users. While that is certainly a milestone, week-over-week growth of applications has slowed down once again considerably this week.

Only 585 new apps were listed in the store this week, almost a 50-percent drop from last week's 1,049 new applications. Of those, 384 are listed as free in the store, while the remaining 201 are paid applications.

SnapGadgets

Microsoft removed desktop gadget support in Windows 8. If you are missing your gadgets, you may find SnapGadgets to be a suitable alternative. While it does not offer you access to dozens of apps that replicate gadgets, the app does make available a calculator, calendar, time-zone clock, notepad and clock that you can display either on the left or on the right side of the screen.

You can snap the gadgets to the right or left using keyboard shortcuts, so that they become available on the desktop and on the start screen. Note that you can't just display one of the gadgets and that an ad is displayed at the bottom of the sidebar.

Minimalist

Minimalist is a touch-optimized to-do application for Windows 8. It takes full advantage of Windows 8's touch capabilities but can also be controlled with the mouse and keyboard.

Once you have created your first list, you can add tasks to it that you want to complete. This can be a grocery list, a work-related list or the next 10 books that you want to read.

You can check completed items by swiping them to the right, or dragging them with the mouse to the right. Tasks can also be removed from the to-do list with a swipe to the left.

All tasks can be searched using the Charms Bar search functionality.

Pomodoro Focus Timer

The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that breaks down work into segments of work and relaxation or break intervals. The technique consists of the following steps:

  • Define the task that needs to be done.
  • Set the work timer (usually 25 minutes).
  • Take a short break afterwards (usually 5 minutes).
  • Repeat.
  • Take a longer break every four rounds.

Pomodoro Focus Timer is a basic application to keep track of work time and breaks for you. All you need to do is enter the number of times you want the process to be repeated, and the work and break interval. You need to right-click afterwards and select start from the interface that opens up to start.

Grid Shock

Grid Shock is a puzzle game in which you need to connect three or more lights of the same color to remove them from the board. A random color appears on the left of the game board and it is now up to you to find the best position for it on the board. The best location is usually next to at least one block of the same color.

A timer has been integrated into the game to make things more interesting. It adds a new column at the end of the grid whenever it reaches the top. The timer fills up faster with each level you reach.

You control the light with the mouse, or alternatively with the keyboard using the up and down arrow keys and space to shot the light to the grid.

Daily Kanji

If you are learning Japanese, you know how difficult it can be to memorize Japanese characters. Students usually begin with Hiragana and Katakana, which are made of about 100 characters combined.

Kanji on the other hand with its thousands of characters is harder to tackle. Daily Kanji teaches you a single Kanji character each day. It uses the Live Tile functionality to display the new character to you. The application itself displays meaning, gives examples, and provides you with the stroke order to draw the character.

The application by default displays characters of all difficulty levels by default. You can change that in the options to disable JLPT 1, 2, 3 or 4 characters. Beginners may want to start with JLPT4 for instance as it is most suited for them.

Tom and Jerry

The application makes available all Tom and Jerry cartoon episodes. That is a total of 10 seasons and over 150 episodes in total all the way from 1940 to 2005.

All you need to do is pick a season, and then one of the episodes listed on the next page. The cartoon plays more or less in full screen, and while the quality is not HD, it is not bad either.

The app has one downside: the ad that is displayed at the bottom of the screen while episodes are playing may distract from the show as it overshadows part of the screen.

App Radio

The radio application makes available for more than 600 radio stations that you can tune in right away. Stations are sorted into genres such as pop, dance or oldies. You can click on any genre to get a list of all radio stations listed under it, or pick a station right from the selection on the start screen.

Among the stations are popular ones such as BBC Radio, Radio Paradise or Sky.fm, but also many lesser known or local stations.

You can add stations to the favorites so that they are listed prominently on the frontpage.

App of the week

T.i.t.a.n.

T.i.t.a.n. is an action game with roleplaying elements. The player controls a mech unit using the WASD keys on the keyboard and the mouse to aim and shoot.

You are sent on a mission to investigate why communication with a tactical weapons and construction site have been lost.

The game itself consists of more than 50 different levels, of which some are pre-built while others randomly generated. You can experience for eliminating threats in the game and level up once you reach a certain threshold. Each level up awards you with a skill point that you can use to increase your mech's damage, health and other abilities and features.

You are also collecting credits that you can spend in shops along the way. Here you can buy better weapons or armor plating among other things. Different types of weapons and armor are available, from slow firing but heavy hitting rockets to fast firing laser guns.

If you like action games with rpg elements then this is one of the games you should not miss out on.

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