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New Galaxy Tab 10.1? Download these apps first

by Phil Hornshaw

Samsung’s redesigned tablet, the Galaxy Tab 10.1, might be the best tablet available that uses Android 3.0 Honeycomb. But the key to any good tab experience is its apps. Apps turn a tablet into an e-reader, a movie player, a game machine, a word processor and more, but stumbling around in places like the Android Market looking for the right tools for the job can be frustrating. So we’ve searched through compatible apps for Samsung’s latest offering to the tablet market and tracked down 10 greats you should download right away when you get your device out of the box, to help make your Galaxy Tab 10.1 into all the cool tools you want. Check them out below.

Read It Later Pro ($2.99)

Among the greatest things a mobile device can do is make reading easier, and Read It Later is designed to do exactly that. After setting up an account and adding its special “bookmarklets” to your computer’s web browser, you can save the many articles you come across every day – be they from RSS or news feeds, picked up from Twitter and Facebook, or just discovered through surfing – to a running list that syncs over the Internet with the app on your tablet. So while you might find an interesting article while surfing the web, you don’t have to read it on your computer: you can just open Read It Later and, well, read the article later, wherever you’ve got an Internet (be it 3G or Wi-Fi) connection to download it to your tab. Better still, Read It Later optimizes the articles by stripping out extraneous stuff from the web like ads and culling the article down to just text and images. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 excels as a reading device, and Read It Later makes it extremely useful for web articles.

Kindle (Free)

While we’re talking about reading, you’ll want to get Amazon’s free e-reader app. Kindle allows users to purchase e-books through Amazon and read them on mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets. The books are downloaded right to the app and available offline once they’re streamed down, and Kindle is smart enough to track your spot in one of your books and sync that information over the Internet with your other devices, so you can start reading on your Galaxy Tab and finish on your smartphone. You can also annotate and make notes, and purchase more books through the app. Amazon’s e-book library has over 900,000 entries, so finding something to read is always easy. The app also features a low-light night-reading feature, which makes it great for reading in bed.

Pulse News (Free)

One more for reading: Pulse News lets you set up a stream of interesting articles from all over the web in one place, based on your interests, your favorite sites, and RSS feeds. The articles are all organized into an easy-to-view mosaic format, where you can see headlines and images and scroll through them quickly and easily. Articles you choose to read are pared-down to just text and images to keep them easy on your eyes, and the app features all kinds of integrations, including with Read It Later, so you can save articles for later. You can also share things you finding interesting with your friends using social networks Facebook and Twitter.

Quickoffice Pro HD ($14.99)

You essentially get a full Office suite on your tablet with Quickoffice Pro HD, which allows you to create and access documents from a variety of popular Office programs like Excel, Word and Powerpoint. You can read and edit files as well as create new ones right on your tab, using either the device’s virtual keyboard or Quickoffice’s voice dictation features. The app will also sync-up to numerous handy document-sharing and creation programs, including cloud storage service Dropbox, Google Docs and Apple’s MobileMe service, giving you access to anything you might have, just about anywhere. Best of all, Galaxy Tab 10.1 owners already have Quickoffice Pro – it comes with the tablet.

Related: Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 review

Related: New Galaxy Tab 10.1? Download these games first

TweetComb (Free)

There’s only one Twitter client designed for Honeycomb tablets so far, and that’s TweetComb. The rest are holdovers from Android smartphones, and therefore aren’t optimized for bigger screens. TweetComb, on the other hand, can handle all the cool features of Twitter and display multiple timelines and columns, allowing users to show their standard feed of updates, as well as, say, all their Mentions and Direct Messages and searched terms on the screen at one time. You also get the full ability to do everything Twitter clients can do on any other devices or computers, like sharing links and photos through updates. TweetComb also supports multiple Twitter accounts.

Google Sky Map (Free)

One of the niftier uses of augmented reality – a technology that uses your mobile device’s camera to overlay information on the screen over the images the camera captures – is in Google Sky Map. Hold your Galaxy Tab up and aim it at the sky (or the ground) and Sky Map, well, maps the sky. It shows constellations, celestial bodies and all kinds of astronomical stuff out there, exactly where you’d be able to see it with the naked eye. Sky Map does you the favor of eliminating all the pesky stuff out there like clouds, city lights and even the ground, which lets you see the sky on the other side of the planet as well as the one you’re on.

PlayOn Mobile (Free, with a monthly subscription)

Perhaps the biggest bummer about the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is that it currently lacks support for two major online video services: Netflix and Hulu Plus. Both services allow users to stream TV shows and movies over the Internet to their various devices, but there are no apps for the Galaxy Tab. Hulu Plus and Netflix were both recently released on Android, but remain incompatible with the Galaxy tab right now. Fortunately, for a price, there’s a workaround – PlayOn Mobile, which allows users to connect their tabs to their PCs over a local Wi-Fi network. That connection basically allows you to stream your Netflix and Hulu content from the Internet to your PC, then to your tab, bypassing the need for native apps from the services. It’s not nearly the best way to do things, especially since a PlayOn subscription will run users another $4.99 a month on top of Netflix and Hulu, and it’s a bit goofy to use on the Galaxy, but in the end, it works. Until there’s a better way, at least PlayOn gets you access to the same services enjoyed by Apple iPad owners.

Adobe Photoshop Express (Free)

Adobe’s free photo editing app is a must if you plan to use the camera features on the Galaxy Tab, simply because it’s an intuitive way to tweak your photos on the go. The app contains a handful of useful little features, like cropping, adjustments for contrast, tint and brightness, effects and borders, and more. It’s not an extremely robust photo editor – don’t expect to be photoshopping images together and fooling your friends – but it’s a great free way to alter photos before sending them along to services such as Facebook and Twitter. The big screen of the Galaxy Tab makes the photos look great, and touch controls make altering them a snap.

Google Music Beta/Amazon MP3 (Free)

Suddenly, streaming music from cloud-based Internet services has become a really big deal, and for Android users, there are a couple of big-name options that recently hit the scene. Music is Google’s offering for users who have access to its Music Beta service, while Amazon MP3 is the Android-only streaming player available to everyone. Both are pretty solid, although they both require users to upload their music libraries to the cloud in order to stream them over an Internet connection to devices such as the Galaxy Tab. That can take a really long time, but the investment is worth it if you’d rather save the space on your tab for other things. Once your music is uploaded, you can access and even download it to your mobile devices any time you’ve got an Internet connection, which is great for situations like reading and listening to music at the same time.

Dropbox (Free)

Cloud-based storage solution Dropbox is just too useful, and too free, to be without. Download the app to your Galaxy Tab and to your computer, and instantly you can share documents between the two whenever you have an Internet connection. It’s great for sharing and accessing documents, but there some really other phenomenal uses as well – namely, you can drop music files in your Dropbox from your PC and access them on your tablet, or you can dump photos on your tablet into Dropbox and snag them on your PC, eliminating more irritating sync and transfer situations. Dropbox is great for keeping your Galaxy Tab’s hard drive relatively clear when need be, as well as for keeping up with work on the go or even looping in coworkers or collaborators on projects. Online storage up to 5GB is free, too, and after that, you can choose to pay for more space.

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