Google’s Android is a powerful and versatile mobile operating system that people have found all sorts of neat stuff to do with. This is especially true on Android-powered tablet computers, which combine the convenience of touch-screen controls with the punch of desktop-grade capabilities. But with a whole network of apps out there on the Google Play Store, which ones do you choose?
To answer that question, we combed some of the leading tech publications out there on the web. What we came back with is a list of 15 various Android tablet apps that the experts trust most, for the functions that people ask for the most, including:
- Texting and messaging your friends
- Getting weather reports
- Enhancing your device’s camera
- Listening to music or podcasts
- Keeping track of events with a calendar
- Sending and receiving e-mails
- Saving your device’s battery life
- Keeping your device secure
- Increasing your productivity
- Having fun with games
- Getting up-to-date news
- Editing photos and videos
- Watching TV, movies, and other videos
- Preparing to travel out-of-town
- Finding your way with GPS and other navigation tools
You may not need all of these apps all of the time, but they’re among the best at what they do. So if you have them on your device, you’ll be set for all sorts of situations and tasks. You may not even have to download some of them – they may come pre-installed on your device!
Best Android tablet texting and messaging app: Facebook Messenger
Already one of the biggest online social networks in the world, Facebook released their own chat app in mid-2011, though you don’t need a Facebook account to use it if you’re on an Android device. And it’s packed with features that go way beyond sending simple text messages to your friends and others. You can make voice and video calls, have private conversations, let friends know where you are, play games, share a day in your life in photos and videos, and so much more!
Download: Facebook Messenger
Snapchat – a pioneering private message service where text and video messages automatically erase themselves shortly after they’re viewed.
Instagram – a very popular social network that consists of sharing, captioning, and commenting on photos and short videos.
Best weather app for Android: Weather Underground
Weather Underground employs a community of weather enthusiasts across the globe to give you weather forecasts as close to home as you can get them. But that’s not even close to all it can do. Interactive radar and satellite maps, severe weather alerts, interactive forecast and precipitation charts, and tons of other weather-related information. You can even make your own report to help make your local forecast more accurate!
Visit our Weather Underground course for an intro to some of the cool stuff this app is capable of!
Price: free; premium features cost money
Download: Weather Underground
Google News – your personalized news and weather, all in one place!
Best Android camera app: Microsoft Office Lens
This is a handy app that powers up your camera into a full-fledged scanner. Scan pictures of documents, whiteboard doodles, business cards – any kind of written material, really – and quickly digitize them into Word, PowerPoint, or PDF files. Then save them on your local device, or to Microsoft OneNote or OneDrive if you need to collaborate.
Download: Microsoft Office Lens
Best music app for Android: Spotify
One of the giants of music streaming, Spotify actually works better on tablets than it does on phones! Instead of having to listen to an artist, playlist, or album on shuffle, you can play any song at any time you want from Spotify’s vast library. You can also create your own playlists or “radio station” mixes, follow your favorite artists and groups, and more!
Want to see more of what you can do with Spotify? Check out our Spotify course!
Price: free; premium features cost money
Pocket Casts – one of the best podcast apps for Android, with great visuals and powerful organization and playback tools, but it costs $2.99.
Google Play Music – listen to ad-supported custom mixes, store your own collection of music, or upgrade to get on-demand access to songs.
Best calendar/schedule app for Android tablets: Evernote
Evernote is, quite simply, the app that keeps everything you ever need to remember in one place. Need a little mental note for something? Write it down, take a picture of it and add a caption, start a checklist, and more! Then sort your notes with tags and “notebooks” so you can find them again, and set yourself time-based reminders so you actually get them done on time.
If you’d like a guided tour of Evernote, our Evernote course has you covered!
Price: free; premium features cost money
Trello – a task-oriented organization system that lets you delegate jobs, set reminders, add comments, and more! We use it at TechBoomers!
Any.do – if you want a calendar, to-do list, reminder service, and a daily planner all in one app, this is a great one too!
Best e-mail app for Android: Inbox by Gmail
The appeal of Inbox by Gmail is that it’s an email app that’s functional, but also does most of the heavy lifting for you. It organizes your emails into “bundles” based on similar topics, so all of your emails regarding special offers, shopping, travel plans, and so on show up in the same place. Plus, you can view photos and other important details in emails without even opening them. Plus, if there’s an email that reminds you that you need to do something, you can set a timer for when you want to be nudged again.
UPDATE: As of April 2, 2019, this app is no longer available.
Best battery saver app for Android tablets: Greenify
There’s almost nothing that will slow your tablet down and drain its battery faster than forgetting (or not even knowing) that you have a power-hungry app running in the background. Greenify can fix that by helping you to identify apps that are still running but aren’t making themselves particularly useful. Then, you can use it to put those apps in “hibernation,” shutting them down and preventing them from running again until you explicitly choose to start them. That way, your tablet only runs the functions that you need it to, taking a load of its processor and battery!
Price: free; can make donations to developer
DU Battery Saver – optimizes your tablet’s battery usage with just one tap, getting rid of junk files and shutting down power-consuming apps so they don’t overheat your device!
Best Android tablet security app: LastPass
One of the big dilemmas of cyber-security is the “password paradox”: you want to make your passwords unique and difficult-to-decipher to keep your online accounts from being hacked, but then how are you supposed to remember them all? LastPass is here to help by storing all of your passwords in a vault that only opens with a master password. So you can go ahead and create as many crazy passwords as you want for all of your other accounts (and LastPass can help you with that); as long as you remember the master password, LastPass will remember the others so you don’t have to.
Price: free; premium features cost money
Avast Mobile Security – this app not only protects and cleans out hazardous files from your device, but it also includes other features such as call blocking, web security, Wi-Fi safety, and more!
Best Android tablet app for productivity: Google Drive
At its core, Google Drive is like a second hard drive for your tablet. You can move files on your tablet into Google Drive; that way, they don’t take up space on your tablet, are safe if your tablet breaks, and can be accessed from anywhere else you can log into your Google account. But Google Drive can do so much more. You can actually create new office documents right on Google Drive, and share files with friends and colleagues. You can even edit some files at the same time as those you share them with – great for team collaboration!
Our Google Drive course can show you how easy it is to get this app up and running!
Download: Google Drive
Dropbox – similar to Google Drive, but works better with Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) files. Also includes a document scanner. TechBoomers approved!
AirDroid – a neat app that allows you to control your tablet from another computer!
Best game for Android tablets: Minecraft
Since its release in mid-2011, Minecraft has gone on to become one of the most popular and critically-acclaimed video games ever. Enter a vast, pixilated world where there are few limits besides your imagination! Gather various types of resources and use them to build whatever strikes your fancy. Or challenge yourself to build shelter and stay alive as you fight off hordes of monsters. Or just play around in worlds that others have built. In Minecraft, if you can dream it, you can build it!
Price: $6.99; some additional content costs money
Asphalt 8: Airborne – a racing game featuring real-world luxury sports cars and motorcycles, as well as courses inspired by real-world locations!
Best news app: Flipboard
Flipboard is your news, your way. Pick what you’re interested in reading about, and Flipboard will pull stories from top publishers and social media websites around the world into a custom digital magazine that you can flip through with ease. From there, you can further personalize your news feed by filtering stories based on their source, author, tags, and more!
Price: free; registration for service required
ESPN – if it’s happening in the wide world of sports, you’ll know about it through the ESPN app.
Best Android photo/video editing app: Snapseed
While it’s easy to think Adobe has the market cornered on multimedia creativity software and apps, Google’s Snapseed proves that isn’t quite the case. It’s a simple yet powerful photo editing app with over 25 filters and tools to help your pictures look their best. You can even save a set of filters that you like and apply them to photos that you take in the future!
Adobe Photoshop Express – a rich photo editing app with over 60 filters and correction tools. Easily share your creations to social media with it, too!
Best TV/movie/video app: Netflix
Watch the best in movies and television wherever you take your tablet with Netflix. With an average of over 2000 titles in each of its media libraries worldwide, you can watch yesterday’s classics or today’s blockbusters and must-see TV whenever you want and as often as you want. And it only costs a small monthly fee.
Our Netflix course has all the basic details if you’re interested.
Price: free; service subscriptions cost money
YouTube – the pioneering video-sharing app has lots of great music, movies, TV episodes, and original works… if you don’t mind the ads!
Best travel app: Uber
Need to get somewhere in a hurry, but have limited transportation options? Put the Uber app on your tablet and you’ll be able to hail one of Uber’s taxis from pretty much anywhere you are, anywhere in the world. The app will tell you exactly where your taxi is at all times, and how much your ride will likely cost you. Plus, it will automatically charge your credit card when the ride is done – just get out at your destination and carry on!
We have a course on how Uber works if you want to see it in action.
Price: free; services provided through the app cost money
DuoLingo – one of the easiest and quickest ways to learn up to 15 new languages if you’re going somewhere where you don’t speak the native tongue.
Best GPS and navigation app: Google Maps
Know where you’re going, no matter where you are on Earth, with Google Maps. Browse and switch between topographical and satellite imagery maps, and get information about local points of interest. You can even tell Google Maps where you are and where you want to go, and it will show you how to get there using various forms of transportation – and even how long it will likely take!
If you have trouble getting around Google Maps, our Google Maps course can point you in the right direction.
Download: Google Maps
Transit – get real-time updates on the transit system in any city so you’ll never miss a bus or train again! Also includes trip-planning functions!
Those are some of the best apps for doing cool things on your Android tablet!