Top 25 Android Tablet Apps
The amount of tablet-optimized apps for Android is a mere fraction of what the iPad has to offer, but that doesn't mean that there isn't some big-screen gold worth mining for on Google Play. Whether you've got a Google Nexus 7 or plan on splurging for a Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5, Google's app marketplace has a solid software selection for both productivity and plain old fun. From sleek UI launchers to hot games, here are our 25 favorite Android tablet apps for 2014.
Monument Valley ($3.99)
Android is quickly becoming a full gaming platform with powerful, compelling indie games. Monument Valley from UK digital design studio usTwo is by far the best game on Android in 2014 thus far. Players take on the role of the silent princess Ida, who must traverse through a puzzle of seemingly impossible worlds (10 in total) filled with optical illusions that you must solve to progress. Monument Valley is the kind of game that messes with your mind (in a good way) as you try to figure out where to go next, and is an incredibly immersive experience; well worth the $3.99.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas ($6.99)
It's been 10 years since the free-roaming action of "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" became a national addiction on consoles, but the legendary title has just recently gone mobile. This $6.99 Android port retains the original game's sprawling gang drama storyline, as well as the fully-explorable fictional town of San Andreas. This location serves as your virtual playground, whether you want to wreak total havoc or just cruise around in a stolen cop car. This version of "San Andreas" has been optimized for tablet gamers with remastered graphics, customizable control schemes and support for MoGa, Bluetooth, and USB game pads.
More: Top 12 Android Games
Google Keep (Free)
If you're the scatterbrained type, Google Keep is one of the best ways to keep your plans and ideas from falling through the cracks. This free app's clean UI looks like a well-organized board of post-it notes, which can be filled with color-coded checklists, notes, and photos. Google Keep can transcribe voice notes into text, and syncs with Google Now to provide important reminders. And since Keep stores all of your notes in the cloud, you no longer have an excuse for misplacing your grocery list.
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KK Launcher Prime ($3.87)
If your experience with Android 4.4 KitKat has you craving more functionality, you might want to dole out a few bucks for KK Launcher Prime. This $3.87 app bolsters your tablet's UI with unique transitions, a "bulk add" option for folders, and an optional parallax effect in the vein of iOS 7. And while KK Launcher is designed for KitKat, any Android user with 4.0 and up can enjoy the vast customization options that this app brings to the table.
Spotify (Free, $10 subscription optional)
The current king of music streaming, Spotify has gotten even better for 2014. While free users were previously limited to radio listening on mobile devices, Spotify on Android now allows you to crank any artist, album, or custom playlist on shuffle mode for no cost. You'll have an even better experience if you subscribe for $9.99 a month, which nets you unlimited ad-free listening and the option to download tracks for offline use.
More: 12 Best Music Apps
Google Drive (free)
Your Android tablet is a productivity powerhouse, and nowhere is that more evident than with Google Drive. Drive is Google’s combination office suite and cloud storage solution that lets you create, edit, and store documents, spreadsheets, and presentations using an intuitive interface. Your content creation powers with Drive are enhanced by the Google’s standalone Docs and Sheets apps, which give you additional tools needed to create professional-looking documents on the go.
Snapseed was originally made by Nik Software, which was acquired by Google back in September 2012. Our favorite photo app, Snapseed provides easy-to-use, professional level photo-editing tools for those who want a deeper level of control over their pictures.
The app has a tablet-optimized interface with up to 2500x zooming functionality that lets you easily and precisely fine-tune your picture to get the best-looking photo every time. Multiple filter options — including black and white, vintage and grunge — can add a dose of style or make your brand-new photo look like you took it on an old-school camera. And thanks to the recently added HDR scape filter and Shadows slider, it's never been this easy to make a simple photo look stunning.
1Weather (Free with Ads, $1.99 Ad-Free)
"I wonder what the weather's going to be." That’s the question that's top of mind every morning. A single piece of information can affect the way we dress, which routes we take to work or school and what activities we partake in during the day.
Having a weather app that conveys this information easily and beautifully is essential, and 1Weather is by far the best weather tablet app on in the Google Play Store. It is jam-packed with features, such as a touch-scrollable temperature-versus-precipitation chance graph, as well as humidity dewpoint information to give you as much weather info as you can possibly handle.
Chameleon Launcher ($3.99)
Here's something the iPad can't do. Chameleon Launcher integrates several apps and services into your home screen experience with attractive widgets. You can build in your Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Instagram feeds, integrate an RSS feed, and add weather and time widgets designed to make your launcher look the way you want. You can also create multiple, contextually-driven home screens so you have access to the most relevant information when you need it.
Recipe Search (Free)
Aside from using tablets to watch movies or shows and read books, people use tablets when cooking. Whether finding new dishes to try or keeping track of your favorite recipes, Recipe Search can help you keep the family happy with good-tasting, healthy food on the dinner table. The app's layout is perfectly designed for larger displays, featuring a magazine-style main screen that lets you scroll through highlighted recipes.
Swiping left from the main screen reveals your tools menu, with search, categories, favorites, meal planner and other handy tools to help you make the most out of the app. We love that you can search for specific recipes based on ingredients you already have on hand.
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The number of people using Google+, the company's social network, is second only to Facebook. But the company's Android tablet app is leaps and bounds above that of Zuckerberg's social network, with an attractive magazine-style layout that prominently features multimedia content. If you're a photo junkie, Google+ can also automatically back up your photos and videos to Google's cloud so you never have to worry about saving them.
Amazon Kindle (Free)
Curling up and reading a good book is a welcome de-stresser. Amazon is by far the industry leader in e-books, and the Kindle app is a must-have for Android tablet owners. Users will enjoy access to millions of e-books and a robust app interface that lets you customize your reading experience. With the Android app, you can bookmark pages, highlight passages, use the built-in dictionary and take notes in the margins. And your information is synced to the cloud with Amazon's Whispernet so you'll never lose your place, no matter what device you use. If you're an Amazon Prime member ($79 per year), you can access the Kindle Lending Library, which lets you freely borrow one of more than 350,000 e-books.
Autodesk Sketchbook Express (Free)
In addition to simply viewing content, tablets can be used to create it, and that's where Sketchbook Express comes in. Let your inner artist loose with Sketchbook Express, a digital sketching application with on-demand, professional level tools. The app allows you to create colorful works of art while taking advantage of the full screen. Sketchbook comes with 15 brush styles so you can fine-tune your sketches, with more available for purchase.
You'll also get access to helpful tools such as drawing styles (for creating straight lines, rectangles and circles) synthetic brush pressure sensitivity and a full color wheel. Tireless perfectionists will love that you can zoom in up to 2,500 percent to add finer details.
Dropbox (Free with 2 to 18 GB of data, Paid data storage plans available)
With tablets quickly becoming content creation machines, tablet users will likely need space to store files, pictures, music and other media content in the cloud. Thanks to a powerful Android tablet application and polished user interface, Dropbox rises to the top as our go-to cloud storage solution. You can set pictures taken with your tablet (or phone) to automatically upload to Dropbox so you never lose them, or you can manually upload pictures, documents and whatever else you need stored via the intuitive app interface.
If you're a news/RSS junkie, chances are you're mourning the recent loss of Google Reader. Fortunately, Feedly has emerged as the most compelling alternative, letting users of the Android app view and interact with your RSS feeds, share content with their Twitter, Facebook and Google+ friends, or save it to read later with Pocket and Instapaper. Feedly also helps you organize your feeds into categories (tech, news, politics, etc.) in either the app or Web interface, so you can manage your content more effectively.
A powerful news app, Pulse organizes your feeds into a beautiful grid user interface which makes it easy to keep up with your favorite sites and breaking news stories. Pulse also adds curated content so you can follow things you might not otherwise have come across. You can sync stories with Instapaper, Read it Later and Evernote or share them with your Facebook, Twitter and Google+ friends.
More: 25 Best Android Apps
Frequent travelers need to download Hipmunk. The service operates much like Expedia or Travelocity, letting you book flights and hotels quickly and easily and for the best possible price. But while competitors focus on price alone, Hipmunk created an "agony factor," which accounts for number of layovers and flight duration to give you the best possible options. Best of all, the tablet-optimized Android application has a clean and colorful UI and presents information in an intuitive way.
Netflix (Free app + $8 per month subscription)
The gold standard for streaming movie and TV consumption, Netflix rules. Aside from having the most content available for streaming, including Netflix-exclusive shows such as "Arrested Development" and "House of Cards," the Netflix Android application has made significant improvements in recent months.
The app's UI makes it easy to find the content you want, and with continuous play now featured in the app, you won't have to tap the screen every 20 minutes when watching TV shows. Bonus: Your content is synced in the cloud so you'll never lose your spot, regardless of which device you want to use to watch.
More: 10 Best TV Apps
Keeping a budget is important for your financial health, but it can be a major frustration to manage. Mint makes this process much easier, nearly fully automating the process once you've linked your bank accounts, credit cards, mortgage and other loans into Mint's system. Mint's Android tablet application provides at-a-glance spending and income information in neat-looking graphs and charts, which allow you to drill down for more detailed information about your personal spending habits and account balances.
You can also set up email and text alerts to have the app notify you of upcoming bills, fees or low account balances. This essential Android tablet app automatically saves your latest download so you can view your financial information even when you're offline.
MLB At Bat (Free, $10 per year)
There's no better way to keep track of your favorite team(s) than the MLB At Bat app. At Bat brings you all the action from today's games, including full HD video highlights and live audio ($10 per year or $3 per month) and play-by-play updates. You can also keep up with the latest news, standings and upcoming schedule for your favorite team, even during the dreaded winter offseason. The app is optimized for tablets, giving you all the information you need to keep up on all the games within a single screen in landscape mode.
TeamViewer for Remote Control (Free)
Most of us spend a full third of our lives away from our homes and the technology that lies within. Tools such as TeamViewer for Remote Control let you remotely access and control your PC from afar, which is helpful for when you need to transfer files or access programs. TeamViewer can be used to remotely access the computers of friends and family to help troubleshoot issues they may be having as well. You can even remotely reboot a PC.
Most all tablets come equipped with front-facing cameras, often with a high-definition video-capturing capability that's perfect for video calling. Skype is the leader in the video calling and messaging arena, with more than 250 million worldwide users on Skype's video and text messaging or phone calling services. A recent update to the Skype app brought a beautiful new user interface for Android as well as the ability to enjoy picture-in-picture video calls, even when you're using other apps.
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Workout Trainer (Free, $14.99 annual subscription for some workouts)
Assuming you're not an experienced gym-goer, you may struggle with developing a workout plan to target certain muscle groups. Workout Trainer can help. This fitness app contains extensive workout routines complete with step-by-step instructional videos and a "fitness consultation wizard" so you always get the most out of your workouts. No exercise equipment required.
Swiftkey Tablet Keyboard ($3.99)
Being able to fully customize your tablet experience is what makes Android tablets so great. Not happy with the stock Android keyboard? Replace it. Swiftkey Tablet Keyboard learns as you use it, is multilingual, and can predict the word you're going to type next. Prefer to drag your finger around rather than type? Swiftkey can do that, too. Best of all, you can split the keyboard in half when in Landscape Mode for easier thumb typing.
LilyPad HD (Free for Google Talk, $2.99 for pro version to enable other Chat Clients)
LilyPad is the best app you've probably never heard of. Similar to Facebook Chat Heads, LilyPad offers a pop-up window for all your messaging programs that follows you from app to app. When minimized, the chat windows take up a small amount of screen real estate, letting you make use of other apps knowing that your conversations are only a tap away. That means you can watch a YouTube video or surf the Web while simultaneously chatting via AIM, Yahoo, Jabber, GoogleHangouts, MSN and Facebook friends.
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