Top 11 essential Android apps

I am currently own the Galaxy Tab and the HTC EVO 4G, and happily so. I test a lot of other devices and that has led me to realize there are 11 essential Android apps I install on every device I use.
Written by James Kendrick, Contributor

I enjoy using devices from a number of platforms, and many of them run Android. That's not the result of actively latching onto Android over other platforms, rather it's the result of grabbing specific devices that appeal to me. I am currently using the Galaxy Tab and the HTC EVO 4G, and happily so. I test a lot of other phones and tablets, and that has led me to realize there are 11 Android apps I install on every device I use, however briefly.

Check out 11 essential Android apps presented in screen shots.

Image Gallery: Check out 11 essential Android apps presented in screen shots.
Image Gallery: Top tablets
Image Gallery: Top tablets

1. Dolphin Browser HD. Stock Android browsers are pretty good, but Dolphin Browser HD has them beat hands-down. This browser is fast and provides customization of a lot of browser settings as desired. The bookmark bar is best in class, and the ability to install free plugins allows for a tailored user experience. Free (ads on settings screens) and $4.99.

2. Swiftkey/ Swiftkey for Tablets beta. The SwiftKey keyboard has the best predictive text capability that I've ever seen on any device. It watches what you type and learns over time to become even better. It is not unusual for most words to be accurately predicted after only typing one or two characters, as it looks in context. The Tablet beta actually works on smartphones too, and has a better skin and a special landscape thumbboard layout. $1.99 (private beta is free once accepted through developer's website).

3. Plume. Twitter apps are a dime a dozen, and Plume is my favorite by far. I try every app that comes along due to my heavy Twitter usage, but I always return to Plume. The app is designed to make core Twitter functions as easy to do on mobile devices as can be. Free.

4. gReader Pro. I follow hundreds of RSS feeds in Google Reader, and gReader Pro gives me a great way to keep up with them on the go. It has a convenient feed list view for seeing new items since the last check, and a configurable article view for checking out items of interest. €3.99 (about $5.65).

5. Thinking Space Pro. I like mind mapping for working on writing projects, and Thinking Space Pro is my app of choice. It makes great use of the limited screens of mobile devices, and is very optimized well for touch operation. £2.95 (about $5).

6. Kindle. My favorite ebook app by far. Free.

7. Amazon MP3/Cloud Player. Amazon only recently released the Cloud Player in conjunction with the MP3 store, and it's already become a staple in my toolkit. Having my entire music collection in the cloud means I can stream it to any Android device I happen to be using at the time. It's not the best music playing app, but it's free and does the streaming well. Free.

8. Amazon Appstore. Amazon's store is not as stocked with apps as the Amazon Market, but the free app of the day makes it a must-have app on my devices. It is easier to find apps in this store than the Android Market, and it is streamlined for fast operation. Free.

9. TripIt Pro. I don't travel as much as I used to but when I do I find TripIt Pro to be invaluable as keeping up with my itineraries. Getting them into TripIt couldn't be easier, as all that is required is to email travel confirmations to a special TripIt address where the itinerary is parsed into the proper format. It works well with Google Maps to make the most of trips to unfamiliar territory. Free and $49/year for Pro version with additional features.

10. Pocket Informant. I love this app for its sophisticated calendar management, and its seamless integration with Google calendars. There are a seemingly endless number of views that can be used to check schedules, and it performs good task management too. $5.99.

11. Angry Birds. No list of Android apps would be complete without the current version of Angry Birds. That would be Angry Birds Rio currently, and it plays perfectly on both phones and tablets. $0.99

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