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Best Android tablet apps of 2016

Update: Creativity apps added

Authored by: Kris Carlon — 1 month ago

If you're the proud owner of an Android tablet – whether it's a Nexus 9, a Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 or an Nvidia Shield – you'll be forever on the lookout for new apps to load onto your slick new slate. Here are the best Android tablets apps we've found, conveniently divided into tablet-oriented categories.

Nexus 9 2014 ANDROIDPIT 4
If you've scored a new Android tablet, these are the apps you need to install. © ANDROIDPIT


  1. Surfing the internet
  2. Exploring the world
  3. Apps for kids
  4. Apps for travel
  5. Watching movies
  6. Creativity apps
  7. Productivity apps
  8. Apps for photos/editing
  9. Apps for reading
  10. Games

1. Best tablet apps for surfing the internet

Some of us use our tablets for hardcore productivity, but most of us use them for hardcore procrastination. I prefer to call it ''research'' though. Whatever you call it, you can't research much on a tablet without some great internet tools.

We're not just talking about Google Chrome (but feel free to check our best Android browsers list). Internet essentials such as Pushbullet (for sharing links across devices), Mighty Text (to get pop-up notifications from your phone) and Pocket (for saving articles for reading offline later) make your tablet experience 10 times better.

AndroidPIT Nexus 9 Lollipop Pushbullet pushes
See something on your phone you want on your tablet? Use Pushbullet to share links. / © ANDROIDPIT
Pushbullet Install on Google Play

2. Best tablet apps for exploring the world

Tablets have larger displays than phones so are great for visual content. When was the last time you explored the planet with Google Earth? Did you know you can even go underwater now and search for the Loch Ness Monster? I uninstalled Google Earth from my phone long ago, but it still holds pride of place on my tablet.

The same goes for the awesome NASA App for exploring the universe, Star Tracker for learning more about the constellations and and even Google Maps for checking out cities you have never been to. Google Earth even has Street View built-in these days.

AndroidPIT Nexus 9 NASA app planet earth from space
You can explore the streets, the planet and even outer space from your tablet. / © ANDROIDPIT
Google Earth Install on Google Play NASA App Install on Google Play

3. Best Android tablet apps for kids

If you're not a kid (or act like a kid) yourself, you've probably bought a tablet primarily for your kids. Tablets are awesome for entertaining kids: they're cheaper than consoles, with plenty of free games, educational potential and much less likely to end up with sticky goo clogging up the buttons.

There are so many awesome apps in the Play Store for kids it's not funny, but some of our favorites include Educational Games for Kids, or if you're more into interactive music jams, Music Hero. Our favorite app for occupying kids of the big and small variety is Marble Mixer, a game simply too epic to be played on the small screen.

AndroidPIT Marble Mixer tablet game
Marble Mixer simply must be played on a tablet. / © ANDROIDPIT
Marble Mixer Install on Google Play

4. Best Android tablet apps for travel

Tablets are great tools for travelers. Smaller, lighter and less expensive than a laptop, a tablet can be one of the greatest travel companions you have. The bonus is that booking flights, creating itineraries or generally organizing your trip can be just as simple with a tablet as it can be with a laptop. 

If you need flights between destinations, grab Skyscanner and get awesome on-the-ground information on your next destination with Triposo World Travel Guide. Before you even get started though, Trip Advisor is one app all globetrotters should have installed from the minute they step foot in the airport.

AndroidPIT Trip Advisor new york highlights map
Trip Advisor on a tablet is a great laptop replacement for travelers. / © ANDROIDPIT
TripAdvisor Hotels Flights Install on Google Play

5. Best Android tablet apps for watching movies

Watching movies is probably the single biggest reason most people buy a tablet. There's no better way to pass a boring flight, train trip, or a lazy Sunday afternoon. But you need a solid movie player that's up to the task, and they don't come any more solid than MX Player – rightly the most popular video player on the Play Store – which not only plays most video formats smoothly, but also has some neat features like pinch-to-zoom and the option to move around subtitles.

Also of note, the PC user's video player of choice, VLC, has been in beta form on Android for nearly two years, but the stable, fully working version 1.0 is now available. VLC is fantastic for playing back video in just about any format. Of course, if streaming is more your style, don't forget Netflix and HuluPlus.

vlc player android
VLC all the things! If VLC can't play it, it's not worth watching. / © VLC
VLC for Android beta Install on Google Play

6. Best Android tablet apps for creativity

If you're holding that stylus with the intention of creating something artistic, first you'll need to grab the best painting and drawing apps you can find. As you probably know, anything Adobe is a great bet. The most useful apps are probably Photoshop Mix and Illustrator Draw.

If you're serious about using your tablet to paint and draw, there's no better choice than Clover Paint. While its user interface might not be the most attractive, the app's depth and complexity is unparalleled. It's currently US$7.56, but believe us when we say it's worth every cent.

clover paint painting app 1
The userface ain't pretty, but the depth of Clover Paint is extremely impressive. / © FAREAST Inc.
Adobe Photoshop Mix Install on Google Play
Adobe Illustrator Draw Install on Google Play Clover Paint Install on Google Play

7. Best Android tablet apps for productivity

When all that time-wasting has ended, you might find yourself needing to actually do a spot of work on your tablet. Thankfully, after making us wait for years, Microsoft has finally released well-optimized, beautifully designed versions of its legendary Office tools: Word for Tablet, Excel for Tablet and PowerPoint for Tablet.

They're the Office tools that Android's been waiting for, and if you're still using the archaic Microsoft Office Mobile, you need to switch over to the new apps, right now. 

To help with all the typing that you'll be doing, you want the best keyboard app for the job, so get your hands on the free SwiftKey app.

androidpit word for tablet
Finally, Microsoft makes a proper Office Suite for Android / © Microsoft
Microsoft Word Install on Google Play Microsoft Excel Install on Google Play Microsoft PowerPoint Install on Google Play

8. Best Android tablet apps for photos

If you spend plenty of time admiring your holiday photos, Facebook photos, selfies and sellotapies, then you'll want a photo suite that makes this pastime easier. For that, you're going to need the best Android camera apps, the best photo editing apps and the slickest gallery app for Android. 

Camera ZOOM FX has been with Android since the days of the Android Market, and it's come a long way in that time. As well as offering the filters, time-lapses and other features we've come to expect from our phone cameras, it also has some of its own tricks, such as silly props and famous 'buddies' to add to your photos.

Having a good camera app on your Android tablet is a must, and we recommend Camera ZOOM FX. © AndroidSlide
Camera ZOOM FX - FREE Install on Google Play

Once you've taken your snaps, you can do some more in-depth editing on them using Pixlr Express, which you can use to adjust color temperatures, contrast and saturation, and even create your own memes. 

Finally, you'll want to view your images in a gallery that's worthy of your photos. QuickPic is the best way to keep your photo collection organized and looking good. 

9. Best Android tablet apps for reading

One of a tablet's biggest advantages over a smartphone is that you can spend hours reading on it without getting eye-strain. If you've got an endless library of classic ebooks clogging up your computer or gathering dust on your Kindle, then why not pop them on your new tablet so they're always with you?

They hardly take up any space either –  that '1001 books you must read before you die' list is going to need less memory than a Lady Gaga album.

AndroidPIT Amazon Kindle app
Reading Kindle content on your phone is painful compared to a tablet. © ANDROIDPIT
Amazon Kindle Install on Google Play

With the plethora of news sources out there, it can be messy keeping them all bookmarked in our browsers. Besides, bookmarks are from a bygone era, Now, it's all about using apps to curate your own collection of news sources.

Feedly is a fantastic way to aggregate all your favorite news sources, letting your read them without having to go to the original site. You can also share news stories across social media, and save your favourite articles to read later.

Just as useful as Feedly is Flipboard. It also holds the edge over Feedly for tablet users because it has an interface optimized specifically for tablets, so swiping between news stories is a cinch.

10. Best Android tablet apps for gaming

2015 got off to a great start when it comes to Android games. The stunt-bike game Trial Xtreme 4 builds on its predecessors with great new graphics, competitive online gameplay, and has recently answered its fans' calls to throw in an offline mode too.

A rundown of the best tablet games of 2015 wouldn't be complete without a tablet-exclusive game, so the brilliant Hearthstone deserves a mention. In this compelling card game set in the Warcraft universe, fast reflexes and quick strategic thinking are a must as you use spells and skills to overcome your opponents.

androidpit hearthstone
The popular Warcraft-themed card game comes to Android / © Blizzard Entertainment Inc.
Hearthstone Heroes of Warcraft Install on Google Play

If you enjoyed last year's surreal puzzle game Monument Valley, then you'll warm straight away to Skyward, which has a similar minimalist aesthetic. Skyward has its own unique gameplay and charm; your task is to control a red disc and a blue disc, and keep them from falling off the beautiful disappearing platforms.

None of these tickle your fancy? Then you'll definitely find something in one of our many lists of best Android games:

Any great apps or games missing from our lists? Tell us about them in the comments.

Kris is a former AndroidPIT Editor who came to the team via a lengthy period spent traveling and relying on technology to keep him in touch with the outside world. He can usually be found juggling three phones at once and poring over G+ posts, Reddit and RSS feeds.


Write new comment:
  • sylsau 1 month ago Link to comment

    My kids love to play Piano on my Nexus 10 tablet. Simple app with a karaoke mode that is a must have :

  • I would like to introduce another type of dictionary, Floating Dictionary.
    Instead of switching between a dictionary and a note application, this application is a pop-up window. Therefore, you don’t have to leave the note app to find the meaning of the word you're looking for.
    Floating Dictionary >>

  • CRiley65 8 months ago Link to comment

    Along with Amazon Kindle, I also have Zinio for tablets, which lets you read magazines on it. There is a HUGE selection of magazines on the website, so if you don't find your favorite, maybe you're too picky!

    • Zinio SUCKS for Android tablets. It's laggy, and it's layout is not tablet friendly, compared to iPad version. They show your magazines in a LIST on a HUGE screen, where they should show as a GRID, just like on iPads. This will make the screen filled much more beautifully with contents, and it will actually look like tablet optimized. But they just did half-ass job, and say they optimized for tablets. Unfortunately, this is what many big companies do for Android tablet apps though. I really hope they step up their game.

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