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Favorite Android tablet apps -- Summer 2012

Top 10 Android tablet apps
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1 of 11 James Kendrick/ZDNet

With Google I/O around the corner and with it the expected launch of the Google Nexus tablet, it's a good time to have a look at good apps for Android tablets. These apps are my favorites and are usually running on my Transformer Prime, Galaxy Tab 10.1, or Galaxy Tab.

Don't miss the full mobile tech coverage by James Kendrick on ZDNet Mobile News

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Having tried many Twitter apps for Android, Plume is the one that keeps getting used. It makes great use of the big tablet screen with multiple columns, and has a lot of features that make it easy to do all common Twitter tasks.

Plume is customizable to make the display look exactly the way the user prefers. It comes with an assortment of widgets for the home screen.

Plume- Free (ad supported), $5.59 ad-free

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The browsers in Android are pretty good, but Google Chrome beta is as good as any desktop browser. It syncs with the Chrome browser on the desktop, and supports almost all desktop functions except extensions.

Web pages load extremely fast, and Chrome desktop users will appreciate the syncing of bookmarks. You can also see all web pages open on other devices and go straight to them with a tap on the screen.

You must be running Ice Cream Sandwich to use Chrome beta. It is expected to be the default Android browser in the next version of Android, Jelly Bean.

Chrome beta- Free

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You don't need a Kindle Fire to get a good experience using Kindle books, as the Kindle app is very good. Full access to the online Kindle library is provided in the app, and shopping for ebooks as well.

The app works equally well in portrait and landscape orientation, with two page viewing supported in the latter.

Kindle- Free

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Pocket Informant is a full-featured calendar and task manager for Android that makes great use of the tablet screen. It supports a myriad of view options, making it possible to keep track of even the most complex calendars and task lists.

It syncs with Google online information, and some other third party services.

Pocket Informant- $4.99

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Evernote is an app that keeps getting better as it is updated frequently. A note taking app on steroids, Evernote is available online and for all mobile devices. Notes can be entered on the fly by voice, text, and image capture.

All notes are stored immediately online and are instantly available on any device with the Evernote app. The tablet version makes good use of the big screen, and the note editor is quite good.

Evernote- Free (premium service available with extra storage)

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Google Reader users will find that Newsr is a great app for working with lots of RSS feeds, with full synchronization with Google Reader.

The three-column display is good on the tablet screen, making it possible to work with hundreds of news items in rapid fashion. It supports all features avalable in the online Google Reader, and has fast execution even with lots of items to process.

Newsr- Free

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The great app for iOS is now available for Android. Flipboard is the app that displays news, Twitter, and Facebook in a nice magazine format that is great to use.

While only available for phones, it displays fine on larger tablets and works well. Note that since it is a phone app it only works in portrait orientation but works fine.

The latest version of Flipboard may not be compatible with larger tablet displays.

Flipboard- Free

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Skype is the standard for audio/video chatting in the business world, and the Android version works well on tablets. Video chatting works very well on Android tablets, with front cameras fully supported with good resolution support.

I use Skype heavily on my Android tablets, and find it works as well or better as it does on the desktop.

Skype- Free

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Android tablets can become extra monitors for both PCs and Macs with the Air Display app. Once the app is installed and configured on the PC/Mac, it connects over Wi-Fi to become an extra display when needed.

It is a perfect companion to laptops for those occasions when one screen is not enough. Air Display is natively supported by OS X and Windows 7 like any external monitor.

See our review of Air Display on ZDNet Mobile News

Air Display- $4.99

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You would expect Google's Gmail app on Google's Android platform to be good, and it certainly is. Heavy Gmail users may find the Gmail app to be reason enough to go Android, as it fully supports all functions of the online app.

Anything you can do on the desktop with Gmail is supported on the Android app, including labels. The app takes full advantage of the larger tablet screen in Android.

Gmail- Free

Don't miss the full mobile tech coverage by James Kendrick on ZDNet Mobile News

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