Windows 8: Two new 3rd party apps using the new Metro UI

With most developers around the world having to wait until BUILD to find out how to develop for Windows 8, some companies are already cranking out Windows 8 Apps

Some of these companies include:

  1. Microsoft: Microsoft is working on its own suite of Windows 8 apps. These apps will be preloaded on new Windows 8 devices and will include a variety of productivity and entertainment apps such as Microsoft Office, SkyDrive, Xbox Live, and more.
  2. Facebook: Facebook has already released a Windows 8 app that allows users to access their news feed, upload photos, send messages and more.
  3. Twitter: Twitter has also released a Windows 8 app that allows users to view their timeline, post tweets, and more.
  4. Dropbox: Dropbox has released a Windows 8 app that allows users to access and share their files stored in the cloud.
  5. Amazon: Amazon has released a Windows 8 app that allows users to shop, read reviews, and more.
  6. Skype: Skype has released a Windows 8 app that allows users to make audio and video calls, chat with friends, and more.
  7. Flipboard: Flipboard has released a Windows 8 app that allows users to browse through their favorite magazines, blogs, and news sources.
  8. Hulu: Hulu has released a Windows 8 app that allows users to watch their favorite shows and movies.
  9. Evernote: Evernote has released a Windows 8 app that allows users to take notes, organize their ideas, and more.
  10. Foursquare: Foursquare has released a Windows 8 app that allows users to explore their city, find new places to go, and more.

So far, all we’ve seen of applications utilizing Windows 8’s new user interface is what Microsoft has publicly demonstrated. But now, just 2-and-a-half weeks away from Microsoft’s BUILD conference, I’ve managed to unearth a couple of portfolios showcasing the first Windows 8 apps to be seen in the wild by 3rd party, non-Microsoft entities — one of them, being from USA Today.

First, you have undoubtedly noticed that the USA Today Windows 8 app is being showcased inside of a tablet/slate device which contains a front-facing camera and a fair share of buttons along the edges. Though the device itself looks unfamiliar to me, perhaps one of you fine readers out there will recognize it. While I’m fairly confident this is just a mock-up image altogether, the fact that the designer has chosen to showcase the app as though it’s running within Windows 8 in a tablet/slate device is rather telling of where they see the trend heading.

To note, I discovered this image within the portfolio of Robbie Dillon, Art Director at USA Today. Alongside the Windows 8 app image, Robbie says the following:

In preparation for the Windows 8 release, this app is being built to take advantage of the touch-first, native environment of Windows 8, while retaining the look and feel of the Windows Metro UI and showcasing the content of USA Today.

Clearly, USA Today is looking to get their content in front of their readers on the Windows 8 platform in app form by the time the OS launches, but since this is just a prototype for the time being, the final tile layout could very well change (though it will probably look about the same). Likewise, it’s currently unclear as to if they plan on making this application available as a download from their site or from the Windows app store that Microsoft is supposed to launch around the Windows 8 RTM time frame.

Beneath the tablet/slate image is a series of five screen shots of a Windows 8 application sporting the Windows Metro UI. It appears to be a social application that’s specific to traveling, including connecting with those around you, the ability to quickly sync files/contacts/information to/from your Windows Phone, and the ability to watch movies in the app.

The developer of this Windows 8 social traveling app concept is a company called Jetstream Software, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner who has the following to say about their development with Windows:

Jetstream has worked extensively with each new Microsoft Operating system long before it is released. We’ve been building applications on Windows 7 since early betas. By the time most companies begin development on applications for a new operating system, we’ve been using it daily for months. We’ve learned the pitfalls, what works, and most importantly what does not.

Their WPF page also has some interesting multi-touch-based applications that may or may not be early versions of Windows 8 applications.

If you’re underwhelmed by what you’re seeing above, trust me when I say I’m right there with you. Personally, I can see this UI getting really boring, really fast — much like the OS X UI where everything essentially looks and feels the same, sans the core functionality of the programs you’re running. Then again, perhaps all we’ve really seen is but a fraction of what the OS is capable of where the new UI is concerned. I’m all for clean looks and streamlined productivity, but at this point, I’m really interested in seeing just how far someone can take the Metro UI to significantly differentiate their app from all other apps utilizing the same platform.

With Microsoft’s BUILD conference just around the corner, I have no doubt those answers and more are to come. Likewise, I rest assured knowing that a deluge of dynamic application demos will soon replace that of the static prototypes we’re left to flesh out from a bit of Google Fu.

Windows 8 Metro UI is a user interface designed by Microsoft for its Windows 8 operating system. It is based on the design language of Microsoft’s Windows Phone, and features a flat, minimalistic appearance with colorful tiles on the home screen to represent various applications. The interface is optimized for touchscreen devices and is designed to reduce the number of steps needed to access applications and content. It also includes a Start Screen which provides shortcuts to frequently used applications, settings and content.