Small but useful utility apps were notably absent from the initial release of Windows 8/RT, forcing tablet and hybrid device users to retreat to the desktop to accomplish certain tasks. This issue has been somewhat fixed with the Windows 8.1 update, which adds new Metro-style Calculator, Help & Tips, Reading List, Scan and Sound Recorder apps.

Calculator

A Metro-based alternative to the classic desktop Calculator application, Calculator provides standard and scientific calculator types in addition to numerous converters, like volume, length, weight, temperature and many more.

Using this app, I was able to find out that the sweltering 35 degree Celsius day I recently endured in my old VW was in fact 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

Help & Tips

This app will one day emulate the useful Help & Tips app in Windows Phone 8, but its current just a placeholder for content to come.

Reading List

This app provides a way to collect articles you’ve shared from other apps, like Internet Explorer, and then read them offline, at another time, or even on another PC (as Reading List syncs through SkyDrive).

Scan

Where Windows 8/RT included so-called class drivers for a variety of devices like printers, mass storage, mice and other pointing devices, keyboards, and so on, Windows 8.1 adds scanners to that list. And this simple Scan app can interact with virtually any scanner, if only in basic ways, to help you scan documents into your PC.

Sound Recorder

The Metro-based equivalent of the Sound Recorder desktop application, Sound Recorder works as expected and even supports basic recording editing capabilities.