Try Participate Learning — Better teaching through digital resources.

Best Android tablet apps of 2011

by Marty Gabel

At the beginning of 2011 there wasn’t a single dedicated Android tablet app. Now it’s the end of the year and we are inundated with them. New Android tablets are released monthly by the likes of Samsung, Motorola and Amazon, and there’s a whole bunch of great tablet-optimized apps to go along with them. Here are some of our favorites this year.

Netflix (Free)

There’s no better way to experience the glory of HD movies and TV than on a fast and powerful tablet with a large, bright screen, providing you’re a subscriber to the service of course. This is why Netflix is here, and why it also made our general Best Android Apps of 2011 list. After a rough start, Android tablet users can now enjoy a Netflix experience their iPad-owning friends have been used to for a while.

Zinio (Free)

If you like to read magazines on your Android tablet, then Zinio is worth a look. You get a few free editions to start you off and then you can purchase more if you like what you see. The pages of the magazines are sharp and colorful and it’s easy to search for specific things, or jump to a particular page of interest.

CNN App for Android Tablet (Free)

Intriguingly enough (or not) CNN released its specific tablet app prior to its dedicated smartphone version. It’s taken a few updates to reach its full potential, but now offers a quick and responsive tablet experience so you can gather all your news efficiently. There’s a great deal of content on offer here, and it isn’t just a rehashed version of the smartphone app on a bigger screen.

Intuit GoPayment for Tablets (Free)

While they may not be as fun as Fruit Ninja or Angry Birds, apps like Intuit GoPayment demonstrate the growing market for dedicated, professional services on Android tablets. It allows you to accept credit card payments (and the data is safely encrypted), create customized receipts and track previous sales, all while on-the-go. Essential for small business owners everywhere.

Pulse News (Free)

Pulse offers a unique way to view news content, and it works especially well on a tablet’s bigger-screen. It uses smart looking panels to organize your news in an easily-digested way and it’s also highly customizable so you only get the stories you want to see. The look and feel of this app is very professional and makes for a great way to consume the latest headlines on your Android tablet.

Swiftkey Tablet X ($4.99)

Yep, we like Swiftkey. Its smartphone counterpart made our Best Android Apps of 2011 list, but the tablet version proves to be just as functional and useful. It offers all the great features of the regular app including excellent text prediction capabilities, cloud-based personalization, and neat-looking skins, but also adds a handy split key layout to make typing on the tablet that little bit easier.

Tweetcaster (Free)

This one’s been out for a while, but the folks at OneLouder updated the app a few times this year to make it work better on Honeycomb-based tablets. It offers a clean and tidy way to view your Twitter feed which takes full advantage of the larger tablet screen, as well as providing plenty of powerful features like search, lists, multiple accounts and widgets. Upgrade to the Pro version for $4.99 if you want to go ad-free.

Bloomberg for Tablet (Free)

If you need the latest financial news and stock data at your fingertips, look no further than this trusted source. It works well because it keeps things fairly simple. It’s easy to navigate and offers business and finance headlines, detailed graphs and the ability to track your own portfolio of stocks and commodities.

Trulia Real Estate for Tablets (Free)

Another app that benefits greatly from the bigger screen real estate of Android tablets is Trulia. With full-screen maps and large photo slide shows, your home or apartment search won’t be so eye-straining when you use this app. There’s also insider info on the neighborhood in which you’re looking, and the ability to contact directly the realtor who’s responsible for the listing.

Google Earth (Free)

Sure, it’s been out a while too, but there’s no denying that apps like Google Earth truly shine on powerful Android tablets. The ability to view 3-D maps without a hitch, zoom-in on famous world landmarks seamlessly, and generally explore the world at large make Google Earth an essential download for any Android tablet owner.