June 21, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
Google hasn’t been able to jump-start the number of Android Honeycomb apps. A handful of apps have being retooled to be Honeycomb-compatible, but the amount of Android tablet apps is minuscule when compared to the launch titles for the iPad. Then again, the Android Market got off to a very slow start before its app boon for phones, so maybe history can repeat itself?
In the meantime, we’ve made a list of some of the best Android Honeycomb apps that you should download right now. We can use your help of course, so feel free to make your own suggestions in the comments section. This list is geared primarily for the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, but these same apps will come in handy for Motorola Xoom, ASUS Transformer, and other Honeycomb tablet users. View both pages and click the “Install App” button to be taken to the Android Market page.
Honeycomb doesn’t ship with a built-in file manager, so you’ll need an app to browse the Galaxy Tab 10.1. File Station is an excellent file explorer because it’s sexy as can be and simple to use. Users can easily browse their storage folders and access permanent shortcuts to the most used folders (Downloads, Movies, Music, and Pictures). The app can also search local storage according to file type, so users can view all Text or PDF documents, pictures, movies, music, and Office files regardless of where they are stored.
File Station can perform batch operations for deleting, copying, or moving files, and makes folder management a breeze. File info and search is readily available in a well-organized package. For my money, File Station is the best file explorer on Honeycomb.
Thumb Keyboard ($1.88)
The first thing every Tab 10.1 owner should do is type on the default keyboard. If you can’t make it more than two minutes without feeling uncomfortable, go on your merry way. But for the rest of us who require a better typing experience, Thumb Keyboard is a must-have. TK splits the keyboard into two halves for a more traditional thumb-oriented set-up. It’s much faster and more comfortable than the default keyboard, can be customized according to size or portrait/landscape orientation, and has a decent auto-completion and correction engine. Since I first proclaimed that Thumb Keyboard is the best keyboard for Android tablets, Swype, SwiftKey, and a few other keyboard apps have emerged. I still rate TK as the best and think it’s well-worth the $1.88.
The Galaxy Tab 10.1 runs an NVIDIA Tegra 2 chip, meaning it takes full advantage of the elite gaming experience available for Tegra devices. TegraZone Games is a great app that showcases all of those games and helps users discover titles optimized for Tegra. The app has a featured games section that shows descriptions, screenshots and demo videos, official reviews and comments, and links to the Android Market if a user wishes to download or purchase a specific title. Samurai II, Riptide, and Galaxy on Fire are among the best Android games around, and they are exclusive to Tegra 2 devices. Discover those titles and more by always going back to the Tegra Zone. Hardcore gamers can also browse a curated News section with tips and walkthroughs to stay up on the new games worth downloading.
The Facebook Android app hasn’t been optimized for tablets and the official website is good but not perfect. FriendMe is a nice go-between that shows your friend feed on the left with quick refresh and jump-to-the-top button. On the right, users can read or add comments and likes to a post, or access linked content in-browser (or disable to go to your default browser).
I’m disappointed that you can’t read or administer Fan Pages, but FriendMe has the other major Facebook features ready for use. Users can add status updates, visit their profile section and view the Facebook wall, access a nice browser for viewing your personal photos, check on your Games, and browse your friends’ profiles.
A 10.1 inch screen with a 16×9 aspect ratio is primed for video, and Moboplayer is a great app for watching videos on the SGT. Like every other video player app out there, MKV files are sluggish and should be avoided, but AVI, MP4, WMV, and most other formats play smoothly. There are also great on-screen controls that will adjust volume by swiping up/down on the right side of the screen, and brightness by swiping the left side. Users can also change aspect ratio and skip backward or forward.
MoboPlayer includes coverflow, grids, or list modes to browse through videos. File descriptions (size, runtime, and resolution) are also listed, and users can designate the folder they wish to scan for videos. Users can also create playlists, so don’t be surprised if you get the urge to watch videos until your battery gives out.
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Google offer excellent book stores and apps for reading on the Samsung Galaxy Tab. But none of those are very good at loading the PDF and ePub books that already own. Aldiko is an excellent alternative for people who want to load their current eBook collection on Android. The app provides a virtual bookshelf that’s very user-friendly and can import more formats that what someone will get in the reading apps from major players.
Aldiko inverts between text and background colors to accommodate day/night lighting settings, as well as changes brightness with a soft swipe in the top left corner. Users can change text size, read in landscape or portrait, bookmark pages, and go to specific pages/chapters. It’s an excellent reading tool that, while not as flashy as the other options, manages to fill an important gap for bookworms converting to digital.
Folder Organizer (€0.99)
Google didn’t think it was worth adding folders in Honeycomb, but you can still organize your apps. Folder Organizer groups items – apps, bookmarks, or contacts – under easy to edit labels. Rather than cram 20 icons onto the home screen, Folder Organizer can create “Reading” or “Games” labels into one 1 x 1 square. A recent update has increased icon size, so users can make their desktops spiffier with pre-packaged icons or customize Folder Organizer with their own images. A free version of the app is available, but the paid version has widgets, direct editing, manual sort, and more features.
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