Best Android Tablet Apps for 2012 (NSFW)

Much has changed in the last year regarding Android tablets, most noticeably, the introduction of the latest batch of Nexus devices. This time last year, I was a big Asus Transformer user. By March, I switched over to using a Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9, and over the summer, I switched again to the Nexus 7. Dollar for dollar, the Nexus 7 is an incredibly good value and a super performer (what with the Tegra 3 processor under the hood). And as you can see, I’ve gone smaller and smaller, with the Nexus 7 (for me) providing the right balance between having a large screen and portability (via my jean’s back pocket, that is). I also have an HTC Droid DNA on order, so who knows; I might still go smaller with its 1080p 5″ screen.

But in this post, I want to update my picks for the best Android Tablet apps. Not only have some applications gotten better (while others have become neglected), but moving from Honeycomb to Jelly Bean has obsoleted at least one of the apps I called out last year.

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And apologies to those of you who were just looking for a straight Android article. This being primarily an anime blog, I’ve asked Rieko to help me out.

Best Magazine Experience: Google Currents

Yep, Google Currents again. And in their latest release, they made it even better with a sidebar that puts the various feeds into categories. Under Jelly Bean, Currents even supports Daydream (screen saver) mode. I’ve got my N7 set up so that when its plugged in and “docked”, Currents’ Daydream function kicks into gear and displays a scrolling list of articles and photos. Really a nice screen saver.

google currents

Best Manga Reader: ComicRack

Still. I believe the author is also at work on an iPad version of his app too. Before long, he’ll have cornered the whole market for a comic book reader.

Best Google Reader: gReader

It’s true, I’ve moved off of JustReader to gReader for several reasons. First, I had too many instances of JustReader corrupting the file system on the SD Card. It was not clear that this was the fault of JustReader, but with gReader, I’ve got a superb Google Reader, and not once has it corrupted the file system in prefetch mode.

greader

Best Video Player: MX Video

Last year, I called out the Dice player as the best out there. Since then, I’ve switched over to using the MX Video player. It seems to have better support for the N7, and in “HW+” mode, I can easily watch a 720p MKV file streamed off of my desktop PC.

Best Launcher: Jelly Bean stock launcher

On the Nexus 7, Jelly Bean’s stock launcher (with its “buttery smooth” animations) completely meets my needs.

On the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9, I had gotten so frustrated by the lack of updates from Samsung that I had installed the AOCP project’s ICS build, and on top of that, I added the Apex launcher. I loved Apex, and if you’re not at all satisfied with your stock launcher (perhaps because you’re still on Honeycomb or -gasp- Gingerbread), check out Apex.

Last year, I had picked Folder Organizer as my favorite launcher extension. Folder Organizer is now a distant memory for me, since almost every (modern) launcher supports the ability to combine application icons into folders. A year ago, Honeycomb did not support this.

Best Wallpaper: Brilliance

I’ve been really disheartened lately by the (lack of) built-in wallpaper functionality. The typical Jelly Bean feature allows you to pick one picture, and have that picture work for both your portrait and landscape wallpaper (in a severely cropped form). Almost no picture looks good cropped both in portrait and landscape, and so, I tend not to use this feature.

Last year, I was using Multipicture Live wallpaper, but got tired of every launcher screen swipe generating a new background image.

Lately, I’ve been using Brilliance for my wallpaper. Brilliance is by far the best photo viewer for the 500px web site, and the app also includes a live wallpaper option to toggle the background based on a 500px query (e.g. today’s popular photos). I’ve got mine set up so that every 30 minutes, the wallpaper changes to a new “popular” photo from 500px.

brilliance

Best Market: Google Play

I’ve given up on the Android Market. They used to have good FATD (Free App of the Day), but they’ve since gone downhill. Most of the apps offered for free are B-grade games geared towards kids. And because of the overhead of having Amazon’s store on my N7, I’ve completely removed it and gone back to using Google’s Play store exclusively. I watch for sales on Google Play; last summer, they had a variety of good apps on sale for 10 cents each.

For my games, more and more I’ve been turning to Humble Bundle. They’ve had three bundles so far for Andoid (along with PC, Mac, and Linux versions). And in case you didn’t already know, Humble Bundle is a great deal, since they let you name your price for the bundle. The first bundle they offered was (IMHO) the best, including such favorites as Anomaly, Osmos, and World of Goo.

Best Widget: Wizz

I didn’t cover this category last year, but I have to say, the Wizz widgets are absolutely indispensable to me. I use the RSS widget to list the top news of the hour, the calendar widget to display my upcoming appointments, and the Facebook and Twitter widgets for my social feeds. The paid version includes all these widgets, resizable and scrollable. And the widget’s settings allow you to tweak the color, opacity, and layout to your heart’s content.

wizz

Best Game: ??

One thing I’ve learned about myself is that I’m about as casual a game player as there is. I’ll download a new game, and it typically keeps me interested for about 15 minutes before I delete it to create more room for the next game. Only a few games have lasted longer for me, and they’ve included Dabble (a Scrabble-like word game) and Ninja Chicken (for a pure brain break).

Best Notetaker: Evernote

Best File Manager: File Manager HD

Best Image Manager: QuickPic

Best Connection to the Real World: PocketCloud

My choices haven’t changed here. The developers of Evernote, File Manager HD, QuickPic, and PocketCloud continue to update their apps (the latest being the update required for Jelly Bean), and are the best in class for what they do.

later

That’s it; have a Happy New Year! Oh…, and yeah, we’ll cover the Rieko Wingfield figure from Tony Taka‘s Fault!! eroge another day (and if you can’t wait, check out Tentacle Armada‘s review of Rieko).

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