10 Great Android Free Apps - dummies

By Dan Gookin

Hundreds of thousands of apps are available at the Google Play Store — so many that it would take you more than a relaxing evening to discover them all. Rather than list every single app, this list shows the diversity of the Google Play Store but also how well your tablet can run Android apps. Every app listed here is free.

ASTRO File Manager

Consider yourself fortunate when your Android tablet comes with a file manager app — even when you never plan on using the thing. Even if your tablet comes with a file manager, consider getting another one. ASTRO does a lot more than get you dirty from exploring the bowels of your tablet’s storage system.

For example, as a bonus, ASTRO can also be used to access files on your Wi-Fi network. It takes some configuration, which isn’t the easiest thing, but after this feature is set up, you can use the app to access your computer over your Wi-Fi network.

Dropbox

One solid way to share files between your computer, laptop, and tablet is to use the file sharing and synchronizing utility Dropbox. You need to obtain an account. Then install the Dropbox software on your computer to share files there. Finally, get the Dropbox app for your Android tablet to access and view those shared files.

With Dropbox, there’s no need to synchronize files between your computer and your tablet. Any files stored in the Dropbox folders are synchronized automatically.

ESPN SportsCenter

Sports nuts should obtain the ESPN SportsCenter app. It offers the latest in sports updates and helps you set up an account to better follow your favorite teams and athletes.

Fast Notepad

One program that most Android tablets are missing out of the box is a notepad. A good choice for an app to fill that void is Fast Notepad. Use it to type or dictate short messages and memos, which is handy.

Google Finance

The Google Finance app is an excellent market-tracking tool for folks who are obsessed with the stock market or who want to keep an eye on their portfolios. The app offers you an overview of the market and updates to your stocks as well as links to financial news.

To get the most from this app, configure Google Finance on the web, using a computer. You can create a list of stocks to watch, which is then instantly synchronized with your Android tablet. You can visit Google Finance on the web.

As with other Google services, Google Finance is provided to you for free, as part of your Google account.

Movies by Flixster

The Movies by Flixster app is your tablet’s gateway to Hollywood. It lists currently running films and films that are opening, and it has links to your local theaters with showtimes and other information. The app is also tied into the popular Rotten Tomatoes website for reviews and feedback. If you enjoy going to the movies, you’ll find the Movies app a valuable addition to your tablet’s app library.

Sky Map

Ever look up into the night sky and say, “What the heck is that?” Unless it’s a bird, an airplane, a satellite, or a UFO, Sky Map can help you find what it is. You may discover that a particularly bright star in the sky is, in fact, the planet Jupiter.

Sky Map app is elegant. It basically turns the tablet into a window you can look through to identify things in the night sky. Just start the app and point your Android tablet up to the sky. Pan the tablet to identify planets, stars, and constellations.

Sky Map promotes using the tablet without touching it. For this reason, the screen goes blank after a spell, which is merely the tablet’s power-saving mode. If you plan extensive stargazing with Sky Map, consider resetting the screen timeout.

TuneIn Radio

You can use the TuneIn Radio app to find a favorite Internet radio station, and then sit back and work.

While TuneIn Radio is playing, you can do other things with your tablet, such as check Facebook or answer email. You can return to the TuneIn Radio app by choosing the Triangle Notification icon. Or just keep it going and enjoy the tunes.

Voice Recorder

All Android tablets can record your voice and other sounds, but few tablets come with a sound recording app. Voice Recorder is a good, basic app for performing this task.

Voice Recorder features an elegant and simple interface: Touch the big Record icon to start recording. Make a note for yourself, or record a friend doing his Daffy Duck impression.

Previous recordings are stored in a list on the Voice Recorder’s main screen. Each recording is shown with its title, the date and time of the recording, and the recording duration.

Zedge

The Zedge program is a helpful resource for finding wallpapers and ringtones —millions of them. It’s a sharing app, so you can access wallpapers and ringtones created by other Android users as well as share your own. If you’re looking for a specific sound or something special for Home screen wallpaper, Zedge is the best place to start your search.