Android tablets don't get a lot of love. Eclipsed by Apple's mighty iPad, they fight to get market share--not to mention attention from developers. But there are some great Android apps optimized for tablets. You just need to look for them, and for that, there's Tablified Market HD Pro, a $2 (and well worth it) app designed to help you sniff out the best Android tablet apps. But before you head off to start your downloads, check out the following 10 Android apps optimized for tablet screens. The following are some of the best productivity, business, information and entertainment apps you'll find--most of them free
Taking Notes on the Fly: Springpad
You may already have a favorite note-taking app, Evernote, Microsoft OneNote, Catch, etc. But you should consider Springpad. You can create as many notebooks as you want with notes generated from text, audio, photos--even barcodes. As you type, Springpad autofills information culled from the Internet. For instance, make a note about a restaurant you'd like to try, and Springpad will add the restaurant's address, phone number, cuisine, etc. Springpad is social, too. You can invite others via email to contribute to your notebooks, and you can comment on each other's entries. My one gripe: I couldn't find a way to change a notebook's name after creating it.
Instant Messaging: LilyPad HD
Instant messaging with Facebook friends / Google Talk buddies just got more addictive, thanks to LilyPad HD. The app's hook, your chat window stays open, regardless of other apps being used. Watching yet another YouTube video in which a dog plays the piano? You can LOL about it with your buddies while watching. When it's time to focus on actual work, you can click the "X" to make your Buddy List go away. It would be nice if LilyPad HD supported other chat services, such as AOL Instant Messenger or Yahoo! Messenger. But the app is barely out of beta, so maybe these and other chat services are on the to-do list.
Planning a Trip: Kayak
Kayak is as close to a one-stop travel planning app as you'll find. It makes searching for flights, hotels, and rental cars supersonic fast. The app doesn't offer all the filters of Kayak.com, you can, however, narrow results in key ways. Example: You can filter flight results based on airlines and airports, number of stops, takeoff and landing times, and price. You can also set airfare price alerts for a specific itinerary and create a price alert for any dates between two locations. Kayak makes good use of an Android tablet's screen, with filters on the left and search results on the right. And true travel geeks will love the apps' Flight Tracker feature.
Going to the Movies: Flixster
Aside from Roger Ebert, there are few film critics I trust. That's one reason why Flixster, with its integration of Rotten Tomatoes scores, is an essential app for movie fans. Rotten Tomatoes aggregates reviews from multiple critics into one overall rating. The Flixster app, nicely laid out for Android tablets, allows you to sort current movies by box office results and theaters (by location or name), read reviews and plot synopses, and see what's coming out on DVD. For each film, you can also watch trailers and get showtimes. Unfortunately, the Android app lacks features that the iOS app offers, such as the ability to sort current films by their Rotten Tomatoes score.
Listening to Radio and Podcasts: Stitcher Radio
Stitcher Radio "stitches" together some 10,000 radio programs, podcasts, and live radio stations in one easy-to-navigate interface. Newshounds will appreciate the "Front Page" tab, which displays a list of current news stories you can listen to as well as a guide to "What's Hot" and "What's New" in podcasts and programs. The source of the news story isn't always shown, however, you can often figure it out by listening. You can create custom radio stations based on your interests, similar to Pandora (another of my favorite Android and iOS apps). Stitcher Radio also lets you listen to live radio programming around the country, but not around the globe, sadly.
Tweeting: TweetCaster for Twitter
There are a jillion Twitter client apps available, but, TweetCaster for Twitter has the edge among tablet-optimized Android apps for its many useful features. The app lets you restrict searches to a specific Twitter account, a timeline, mentions, or favorites. You can simultaneously update multiple Twitter and Facebook accounts and schedule tweets in advance. Adding photos and videos to tweets is easy-- you can edit photos before tweeting. TweetCaster shows you currently trending hashtags and topics in the geographic area of your choice. There's an option for viewing weekly trending hashtags, but when I’d select, the app crashed.
Annotating Maps & Images: Skitch
Developed by Evernote, Skitch lets you annotate any photo, screenshot, or map you've captured on or imported to your tablet. You can find a location on a map, capture the map as an image, draw an arrow pointing to a desired meeting spot, add a text note -- then share the annotated map with people you're meeting. Evernote suggests taking pictures of people in a meeting, writing their names directly on the photo, and saving the snapshot to your Evernote account (which is linked to Skitch). Skitch also lets you share files via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi Direct or save them to apps installed on your device, such as Facebook, Skype, Picasa, Dropbox, and others.
Gmail is the best free Web-based email client for individuals, and not surprisingly, Google's Android app--optimized for tablets--is a winner too. Though it lacks some of the features you'd get using Gmail in a desktop browser, many of the most important functions are here. You can set your Priority Inbox to be your default inbox, manage multiple Gmail accounts, report spam, add labels to messages, mark messages as not important, and view and save attachments. Gmail makes great use of the tablet screen, with a list of messages in a left-hand panel and the selected message at right. You get all this and more--without ads.
Working with Office Files: Quickoffice Pro HD
There's really no great solution for replicating full desktop Microsoft Office functionality on a tablet, whether it's Android or iOS. Some apps, such as CloudOn and OnLive Desktop, give you fully functional versions of Office apps, but they live in the cloud and require an Internet connection. Quickoffice Pro HD gives you a workable set of Office tools that you can be productive with while online or offline--as long as you download any documents you need before severing your Internet connection. I like Quickoffice Pro HD's pleasing interface, easy access to Dropbox and Google Drive documents, and the ability to annotate PDF files, among other goodies.
Checking the Weather: The Weather Channel
Weather geeks have no shortage of great mobile apps--but The Weather Channel app is one of the most complete. You get the 411 on what's happening right now in a given city--including the wind speed, UV index, visibility, dew point, and humidity. Looking ahead, the app gives you hourly forecasts; a 36-hour prediction; and the 10-day outlook. Weather maps, video forecasts, severe weather alerts, pollen reports, and local weather-related tweets complete the picture. This app tells you everything but the temperature of the roast in the oven.