Four essential productivity apps for Android tablets
Tablet-friendly apps are finally arriving on the Android Market. Here are three free gems you must download now.
A few weeks ago, I grabbed an Acer Iconia A500 tablet to replace my aging first-generation iPad. (Personally, I find the Iconia a better value than the iPad 2, and I'm addicted to Android's widget support.) Not surprisingly, the Android Market features a pretty short list of tablet-worthy apps, but that list is growing. Here are three excellent productivity freebies that work great on Android Honeycomb slates.
While these apps aren't all explicitly designed for Honeycomb tablets, they take good advantage of the larger screen real estate and deliver an excellent touch-control experience. I'll be watching with interest as new apps continue to embrace the bigger screen.
DataViz Documents To Go
Unlike most office apps for Android, Documents To Go offers excellent formatting fidelity with Microsoft Office documents. The free version on Android can only read these documents, not create them, but it reads them beautifully. For this feature alone, it's well worth having Docs To Go installed on your Honeycomb tablet.
The premium version of Documents To Go, which lets you create and edit Office documents and syncs with Google Docs, will set you back $15. (That's a couple bucks less than the iPad version.) If you're a heavy Microsoft Office user who wants the ability to work with Word, Excel, or PowerPoint files on the tablet, this upgrade is well worth the price.
At long last, Google Docs has emerged as an app in its own right, and it's shockingly good. As a longtime user of Google Docs in my daily work life, where the Web apps' collaboration features just barely offset their ridiculously bad support for basic .doc formatting, I've tried my fair share of third-party apps that sync with Google Docs. None of them come close to this app's clean integration with the service. This is the app Google Docs users have been waiting for, it's free, and it's especially good on a tablet display.
My favorite synced storage service is also a great Honeycomb app. Dropbox delivers awesome readability for synced files, displays pictures and PDFs beautifully, and hands off work documents to Docs To Go with ease. The Dropbox app is not tablet-optimized in any noticeable way, but works very well on the larger screen anyway. I can only hope the folks at Dropbox are working quickly on an interface that takes better advantage of the larger screen.
I wrote about Thinking Space a couple of weeks ago when I covered mobile mind mapping apps, and gave it a pretty strong thumbs up for Android users. But that was before I tried it on a tablet, which is an experience so phenomenally superior to what the app can do on phones that it practically warrants a complete reappraisal on this platform. If you use mind mapping frequently, and you've been thinking of getting an Android tablet, you're going to love this combination.
Of course, the Android Market still has a pretty slim selection of tablet apps, and there's plenty of great stuff out there that may take a while to migrate into a tablet-friendly form. Non-tablet apps generally work very well on Honeycomb, in my experience, but it's usually pretty obvious that you're looking at a phone-centric menu that isn't taking full advantage of all the touchable pixels on offer. I'll keep my eye on new productivity apps for Android slates as they emerge, and bring you any gems I find.