Microsoft Surface review: Ripples of change
Bing and apps
Bing has branched out and offers several apps to fill the gap on other platforms. Apart from Search there's also Daily, Finance, Sports, Travel and Weather.
Bing Search is self-explanatory - you enter a query and the app searches Microsoft's engine for results. The interface is as simple as a search bar and wallpaper, which changes each day.
Search also gives you the trending queries of the day. Search results appear as a horizontal grid, a la Modern UI and selecting a result opens up Internet Explorer.
Bing Daily is a news app that shows you trending topics of the day from featured news sites. It rounds up the best of Finance, Sports and Travel in one place. The day's headlines are shown next, then come local and world news. The list goes to include Entertainment, Business and Sport.
You can select to view content from a number of news sources.
Articles appear in magazine-like style. You can choose between two different font styles, adjust the font size and toggle articles.
The My News section is your own personal place where you can add sources to read from. Microsoft is the only source selected by default, go figure.
Bing Sport works the same way only it's focused on sporting news only. There's a spotlight with the story of the day, a top stories grid, the local sports schedule and, finally, the option to choose favorite teams you'd like to follow closely.
There's an All Sports section which lets you choose a sport or league to check out but the choice is rather limited.
Bing Finance is a mixture of financial news, stocks, currencies and commodities. You can create your own watch list of companies whose stock prices you like to keep track of.
Bing Travel is a great application filled with interesting facts, 360 degree panoramas of popular places around the world and a rich database covering many destinations around the globe.
The app shows a featured destination on the main page each day, followed by a grid of the most popular destinations in the app. There's a nifty option to search for flights or hotels.
Bing Travel also serves travel-related news for each day.
Each destination has its own page. It features an overview of the city, a selection of photos straight off Bing, beautiful panoramas of popular locations in the city, a list of attractions borrowed from various sites, like Frommer's, as well as prominent hotels and restaurants worth visiting.
Bing Weather is the go-to app for daily forecasts. Opening up the app reveals the weather conditions in your current location (or a preset one) along with an hourly forecast, map view of temperature, precipitation, cloud cover, etc. in your region and nation-wide.
You can choose to be informed for as many locations as you like. Finally there's a World Weather view, which offers information about major cities in the world.
We have to say these apps made us miss Flipboard somewhat less.
Skype for Windows RT can be downloaded off the Windows Store, as it surprisingly doesn't come preinstalled on Windows RT. Since Microsoft's acquisition of Skype everyone was expecting a new app, integrated into Windows somehow, built from the ground up to work on Modern UI and entirely touch-enabled.
Microsoft has answered on most of the expectations - Skype is completely revamped on Windows RT but we wouldn't say it can even come close to the app on Windows 8. As soon as you sign into Skype your ID is fused into your Microsoft account.
Options are fairly limited though. You can only change your profile picture. Just about everything else opens up Internet Explorer so you can edit your details on Skype's website.
You can call users on Skype for free and calling land lines requires Skype credit.
Your chat windows feature a tab with your friend's Skype information (status, local time and location), video and voice call toggles and the option to add other people to the conversation. All Skype emoticons are supported.