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Reading List adds save-for-later options
The Reading List app, new in Windows 8.1, might be the most useful of the new features introduced with this update. From any Windows Store app (including the built-in Windows 8.1 apps) you can click or tap the Share charm to slide open the pane shown here. Tap Reading List to save the headline and a snippet from the item, for easy reference later from the Reading List app. Your saved items are synced across devices as well, so you can save a flurry of web pages, news items, and even links to apps in the Windows Store, then catch up with the entire collection on a different device.
Note that you can't share anything from the desktop or from desktop apps. One small change in the Windows 8.1 RTM code is relevant here, though. If you open a page in the desktop version of Internet Explorer, you can right-click its tab to reveal an Open In Immersive Browser menu choice (that option wasn't in the Windows 8.1 Preview). Click that option to open the page in the Metro-style Internet Explorer and save it to the Reading List.
The Mail app gets serious
The Mail app included with Windows 8 was embarrassingly incomplete. Its Windows 8.1 successor is a strong candidate for Most Improved App, with a slew of big changes. Among them:
- IMAP support in addition to the POP and Exchange ActiveSync support in the Windows 8 app
- The ability to drag and drop messages and create rules on the fly
- Automatic filtering of newsletters and social media updates (you can disable this feature or change its behavior for specific senders)
- The ability to pin folders and designate contacts as favorites so you can quickly see messages from those senders
There's a search box above the message list as well, making it easier to find exactly the message you're looking for.
Gmail support is still limited
Last year, shortly after Windows 8 was released, Google abruptly discontinued support for Exchange ActiveSync (except for paying Google Apps customers). As a result, the Windows 8.1 Mail app uses IMAP to sync messages but doesn't offer the same sync support for contacts and calendar items as it does for Outlook.com (Hotmail), Office 365, and other Exchange-compatible accounts.