Quick Guide to the Apps on Your Surface - dummies

Quick Guide to the Apps on Your Surface

By Andy Rathbone

You can download and install new apps, but your Surface comes with more than a dozen built-in apps which appear on the Start screen for easy access. Others hide in the Start screen’s All Apps area. To see all of your installed apps, slide your finger upward from the middle of the Start screen. A formerly hidden screen comes into view, showing alphabetically organized icons for all of your apps.

The following apps appear on every Surface tablet:

  • Alarms: New in Windows 8.1, this lets you set a wakeup alarm, a timer, or a stopwatch.

  • Bing Travel: Designed around people who keep their suitcase packed, this app caters to impulse buyers. The app is filled with tempting panoramic photos of travel hotspots, maps, reviews, and, of course, links for booking flights and hotels.

  • Calculator: Another app introduced in Windows 8.1, Calculator offers standard, scientific, and conversion modes.

  • Calendar: This handy app lets you enter your upcoming appointments and can also automatically fetch appointments you’ve made in online calendars. The app then blends appointments from several sources into one calendar.

  • Camera: Your Surface’s front camera works best for vanity shots, whereas the back camera is more suited for scenic vistas.

  • Desktop: A tap of the Start screen’s Desktop tile fetches the traditional Windows desktop. There, you find several of the usual Windows accessories, such as Paint and Notepad, as well as the robust File Manager.

  • Finance: In the U.S., this tile shows a 30-minute delay of the Dow, NASDAQ, and S&P. Tap the tile to open the Finance app, filled with charts, indexes, news, rates, and stocks you’ve added to your personalized Watchlist.

  • Food and Drink: Another new app for Windows 8.1, this helps you plan meals and catalog your recipes. Look for the hands-free mode, which automatically turns pages with a wave of your batter-spattered hand.

  • Fresh Paint: This drawing program, added for Windows 8.1, lets you create art several ways: from scratch, based on a photograph, or based on an existing drawing or image.

  • Games: A tap of the Games app brings the Xbox Games app, a link to your Xbox game console. Here, you can see your Xbox friends and gaming achievements, as well as view game trailers and buy Xbox games.

  • Health and Fitness: New for Windows 8.1, this offers not only exercise tips but also information about nutrition, well-being, and prescription drug interactions.

  • Help + Tips: Missing from Windows 8, this app finally tries to explain how to use this drastically new version of Windows.

  • Internet Explorer: This no-nonsense browser site fills the screen with your currently viewed website, with no messy menus or tabs to get in the way.

  • Mail: This simple app lets you send and receive files and e-mail. It works in conjunction with your People app, automatically filling in e-mail addresses as you begin typing a person’s name.

  • Maps: A tap of the Maps app brings up Microsoft Bing Maps and a view of your current city. Because current Surface models lack a GPS chip, the Maps app won’t pinpoint your exact location or offer turn-by-turn navigation, but it provides accurate directions when you type in two addresses.

  • Music: This music player plays music stored on your Surface or stashed away on OneDrive. It’s also a gateway to Xbox Live Music, which offers an array of streaming music options to owners of an Xbox game console.

  • News: Drop by here to read news pulled from a wide variety of news sources, customized according to your interest or geographical location.

  • OneDrive: This app lets you stash files online, where you can share them with other people and access them from other computers. OneDrive also serves as a convenient way to add storage.

  • OneNote: This finger-friendly digital notebook app works fine on its own, or it syncs with the full version, which runs on the desktop. OneNote lets you collect and organize notes, either typed or handwritten. You can also toss in photos and recordings when needed.

  • PC Settings: This simply opens the PC Settings screen.

  • People: The People app contains your friends’ contact information. You can enter or edit the details yourself or let the app automatically harvest your friends’ information from your Facebook, Twitter, Google, or other online networks.

  • Photos: The Photos app lets you show off photos stored on your Surface or OneDrive. It can also import photos from your digital camera.

  • Reader: Many downloadable documents and manuals come stored in Adobe’s Portable Document Format (PDF), and this app opens them for easy reading.

  • Reading List: Don’t have time to read that extraordinary Internet article? Fetch the Charms bar, choose Share, and toss the article onto the Reading List app. When you open the Reading List app, all of your articles will be waiting for you.

  • Scan: This Windows 8.1 app finds your attached scanner and lets you scan documents right from the Start screen.

  • Skype: This app lets you chat, swap instant messages, or hold face-to-face meetings over the Internet.

  • Skype WiFi: Skype WiFi lets you connect with wireless Internet networks across the globe.

  • Sound Recorder: This simple recorder works well for recording classes or recording short bursts of inspiration.

  • Sports: Sports fans drop by here to see the latest team scores and game news. Open the App bar and tap Favorite Teams to create a mini-newspaper devoted to your favorite team.

  • Store: To download new apps, visit the Windows Store.

  • Video: This plays videos from your Surface and its storage areas, as well as providing a portal to Xbox Video.

  • Weather: This personalized weather station grants you a weeklong glimpse into your city’s future weather patterns.