Now is the perfect time to pick up an Android tablet for a loved one, or even yourself. I have seen lots of great deals on tablets of all sizes this holiday season. Maybe this is the first time that you have ever had the pleasure of using Android. Where do you start? I decided to put together a top ten list of Android apps for any new Android user, or even some long time Android users that haven’t discovered these apps yet. That’s enough introductions…on to the list!

10.WeatherBug Elite ($1.99 US)

It’s always nice to know what the weather is like outside. Living in Michigan the weather has been known to take 30-40 degree swings in a 24 hour period. (That’s Fahrenheit of course.) Because of this I have walked out of the house in a winter jacket because we had snow the day before, only to find out it is near 60 degrees. With WeatherBug Elite installed on my tablet I can see the temperature outside with one quick glance. There are a lot of different weather apps, but WeatherBug is the one that I have found to be the most accurate for me. This could be different for you depending on where you live, and what weather reporting services are available in your area. WeatherBug gives you the option to put the current temperature in your notification bar, and upon opening will give you the current weather as well as a five day forecast and so much more. It also will give you notifications of severe weather announcements for your area if you choose to receive them.

[WeatherBug Elite]

9. Lookout Mobile Security (free)

If you were unaware, Android has a little malware problem. It’s really not anything to worry about if you are smart about what apps you download, but as the saying goes, better safe than sorry. Lookout Mobile Security will make sure that your tablet stays malware free. It will scan all the apps currently on your tablet, and also any new ones you download.

[Lookout Mobile Security]

8. Amazon Kindle (free)

I love to read. I’ve always been this way, and have been known to stay up really late reading if I happen to be at an especially good part of my book. Because of this, Amazon’s Kindle app was one of the first apps I installed on my tablet. You have to have a Kindle account in order to use the app, but this also allows Amazon to sync your books across all devices that run Kindle. This syncing is not just limited to Android. It will sync from Apple to Windows to webOS to Android. This makes it very easy to pick up any book you happen to be reading where ever you happen to be. Waiting in the doctors office and just have your phone? No problem, you can continue reading right where you left off on your tablet.

[Amazon Kindle]

7. OfficeSuite Pro 5 ($9.99 US)

I’ve found that one of the most useful apps for me is one that will open and edit Microsoft Office documents. There are a lot of different ones available, and I’ve found that OfficeSuite Pro is the best one for me. You can open and edit Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint presentations, as well as plain text files, pdf files, zip files and many more. OfficeSuite syncs with Google Docs, Dropbox, and Box for easy file editing and sharing. I’ve found that to get all the great functions that these office apps have available, you have to buy one. A couple other full suites that are available are Quickoffice and DocumentsToGo. I have tried all three of the paid versions thanks to Amazon Appstore free app of the day, and OfficeSuite Pro 5 is my favorite. OfficeSuite also has French, Italian, German, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese Traditional, Chinese Simplified, Swedish, Russian and Korean language support.

[OfficeSuite Pro 5]

6. Gmail (free)

A lot of tablets come with a stock email app, but I’ve found that the Gmail app functions a lot better. This is just a case of the Gmail app being designed specifically for your Gmail account, and so it handles your email better than whatever stock email app came with your tablet. The stock apps are made to handle from a variety of different sources, and as such, don’t handle the little nuances of your Gmail account as well as the Gmail app does. It will automatically push new emails to your tablet, give you notifications, and sync your emails to your tablet for offline reading.

[Gmail]

5. Thumb Keyboard ($2.29 US)

The keyboard that comes with your tablet probably works OK for a lot things that you will use it for, but if you want to be able to make any changes to it, you are out of luck. If you’ve ever tried hanging onto your 10″ tablet and typing with your thumbs, you probably quickly found out how futile that is. You, like me, probably quickly grabbed it with hand and switched to the ole’ hunt n’ peck method of typing with one finger. That’s where Thumb Keyboard comes in. One of the coolest reasons to use Thumb Keyboard is that it gives you the ability to split the keyboard in two, one half on each side of the tablet, so that the entire keyboard is in reach of your two thumbs while holding it in both hands. This makes typing in landscape mode so much easier. Thumb Keyboard also has a lot of options to customize the keyboard to your liking, and like most Android keyboards has word prediction and spell check built in.

[Thumb Keyboard]

4. Maxthon Mobile Browser (free)

I have found that the stock Android browser, or whichever one the maker of your tablet decides to put on there, is pretty incomplete. It didn’t take me long to decide to find a new one. I tried a lot of them that are available including Firefox Mobile and Dolphin HD, but decided that I like Maxthon the best. Maxthon uses tabs just like your computer browser does, and it also has a sync feature that allows you to sync your favorites between any Android devices that you use. It has a lot of cool features built in, including using gestures to control simple functions like opening a new tab, going back a page, or closing a tab. I’ve found it is much easier to use than the stock browser, and just prefer it over some of the other browsers out there. Even if you don’t like Maxthon, I recommend a different browser that has lots more options than the stock one does. There are two different versions of this app available in the Market, one for 10″ tablets, and one for all other Android devices.

[Maxthon|Maxthon for 10" tablets]

3. Root Explorer ($3.99 US)

Root Explorer is a basic file/folder explorer, allowing you to see all the files on your device and do whatever you want with them. This allows you to view everything on your device and all the different partitions. As the name suggests Root Explorer requires you to have a rooted device in order to use it. There are different apps that will do mostly the same thing, and if you aren’t rooted you aren’t going to want to access some of the folders that are root only anyways. One of the more popular non-root file explorers is called ES File Explorer.

[Root Explorer| ES File Explorer]

2. Dropbox (free)

Dropbox is my favorite way to handle files across all my devices. It allows me to move files around between my tablet, computer, and phone effortlessly. You need to have a Dropbox account in order to use this app, and in order to share with your computer you also need to have the client installed there. The basic idea of it is that when you put a file in your Dropbox, it automatically uploads it to the cloud, and then it is available to be downloaded to your tablet through the Dropbox app. The reverse of this is also true. Upload a file through the Dropbox app and it will automatically be downloaded to your computer. Dropbox also allows you to create a link that can be shared with friends so they can download any files you put in it. The Dropbox app is free, and the service has both free and paid plans.

[Dropbox website|Dropbox app]

1. Amazon Appstore (free US only)

The one word to describe why you need the Amazon Appstore is free. You can read a lot of the reasons why I feel this is the most important app for you to get in this post here. The main reason why you will want this app is because every day Amazon is giving away a premium app, for free. Most of the time it is cheap games, but in one three week period they had three different $15 apps that they gave away. This is the only app on the list not available on the Android Market. You have to head over to Amazon’s website to get it.

[Amazon Appstore]

So there you have it, my top ten most useful Android apps, just in time for installing on your new tablet you got for Christmas!