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11 essential Android tablet apps: The ultimate starter kit

JR Raphael | Oct. 11, 2011
Apps are the heart and soul of the Android tablet experience--but for new tablet owners, it isn't always easy to figure out where to begin. While Google's Android Market offers a small section of "featured" tablet apps, it doesn't provide a comprehensive list of programs that are optimized for the larger screen.

Springpad lets you input text notes, audio notes, image notes, or product notes (via scanned barcodes) into any number of "notebooks," or categories, that you create. You can even input the name of a movie or book that catches your eye, and Springpad will automatically attach a full profile of the product to your note. Springpad continuously syncs your data, so all of your stuff is always accessible on the Web or via the company's free Chrome extension.

Quickoffice Pro HD

Tablets are great for note-taking, but sometimes you need to do more. That's where Quickoffice Pro HD comes in. Quickoffice Pro HD, available for $20, is a full-featured productivity suite made specifically for Android tablets. It gives you robust word-processing, spreadsheet, and PowerPoint editing capabilities, all in a tablet-optimized interface that's a pleasure to use.

Quickoffice Pro HD can integrate with a number of different cloud storage services, too--Google Docs, DropBox, and SugarSync, among others--allowing you to save files directly to the Web in addition to your device. For my money, no other Android tablet office app even comes close to comparing.

Wyse PocketCloud Pro

These days, you don't have to be in your house to get on your home PC. Android tablets are the perfect tools to run specialized software that lets you remotely access and control your computer. I'd recommend Wyse PocketCloud Pro, available for $14.99 (or free in a limited-functionality version).

Setting up PocketCloud Pro is simple, and once you've installed the PC or Mac client, it takes just seconds to get your desktop up and running on your tablet's screen. You can swipe around the desktop with your finger and use mouse or keyboard tools to interact. PocketCloud Pro supports RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) and VNC (Virtual Network Protocol) connections; it also offers TLS (Transport Layer Security) encryption and the ability to connect to multiple computers.

Plume for Twitter

Tablets and tweets team up triumphantly with LevelUp Studio's Plume for Twitter application. Plume, available free with an optional $2.99 ad-eliminating upgrade, gives you three customizable columns of Twitter-filled goodness. Any column can be set to show your main Twitter timeline, @mentions, direct messages, favorites, lists, or searches.

Tapping on a tweet causes it to open in a side panel on the screen. Plume has its own built-in browser, too, meaning that you can view linked pages without ever having to exit the program. Add in multiple account support and a completely customizable interface, and you've pretty much got the total package.

Friendcaster Tab for Facebook

In mid-September, Facebook finally updated its official Android app to run on tablets, but the program is still anything but optimized for the big screen. Fear not, though, as Friendcaster for Facebook is here to save the day.

 

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