The tablet market is growing at a rapid pace, and there are more than enough applications to keep you busy. If you’re looking for the best apps for your tablet, we’ve got you covered.
Tablet users can now enjoy a wide range of features and functions that weren’t available just a few years ago. With so many options, where do you start?
We’ve compiled a list of our favorite apps that will help you get the most out of your tablet experience.
Best Apps For Tablets 2020
Phones are powerful devices but it’s the apps which make them useful. At last count there were over 2.5 million of them available in the Google Play Store, so finding the real gems can be an arduous task.
To separate the wheat from the chaff, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide, which outlines those essential apps that should be the first you download.
Best Messaging Apps
Aside from texting and voice calls, there are many excellent ways to keep in touch with friends or even make new ones on your device.
Arguably the most popular of all these is WhatsApp Messenger which has become pretty much ubiquitous in the smartphone age, at least in the West. The reasons for this are numerous, with the service being free, allowing multiple group chats, the ability to share video, images and audio, no international charges, plus free calling to other users over Wi-Fi connections.
It’s easy to use and the chances are you already do. An added bonus is that it works with your PC or Mac via the WhatsApp Web app. See our How to use WhatsApp Web feature for more details.
Another hugely popular chatting app is Skype, which allows free Wi-Fi calling for video and audio, plus instant messaging, and the same features are also standard on Facebook’s Messenger app.
For those who prefer to keep things private there’s Telegram, a service that focuses on delivering a refined texting experience, all while maintaining your privacy.
Conversations are encrypted using 256-bit symmetric AES encryption, and you can still delete sent messages at both ends even after they’ve been received by the other person. It’s free, features no ads, and should be one of the first apps you install.
If you’re a fan of online forums, then Reddit is the app for you as it’s a gateway to the stupefying array of communities on the site. Whether it’s Game of Thrones theories, your favourite sports teams, or the latest scientific research, there is a Reddit forum full of people discussing the latest news and views right now.
Go join them!
Best Social Apps
If social is your bag, there are loads of free apps with which you can stalk your friends or make them jealous with pictures of your dinner or news on your latest job.
Obviously, there’s the heavyweights of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, all of whom are fully featured, free services that will more than likely have all your friends already signed up.
Snapchat is popular with younger users and has a different approach thanks to its posts that disappear after a set time (beginners should check out our guide on How to use Snapchat). While, those wanting to scrapbook the things they love online will find Pinterest just the ticket.
Best TV & Video Apps
Amazon Prime Video
Now that most Android phones have large, high-resolution displays, they make ideal devices on which to enjoy the latest blockbuster films, TV shows or your favourite YouTubers.
The apps available break down into two major categories: Subscription-based or free.
If you’re looking for the latter, then you’ll probably find that the best option, YouTube, is more than likely preinstalled on your Android device. Here you’ll be able to enjoy news shows, music videos, a huge selection of Vloggers, tutorials, and pretty much anything short of actual movies and shows, unless you’re wiling to hire or buy them from the Google Play Store.
Another essential app, at least for UK residents, is BBC iPlayer, which grants access to recent shows across all the BBC channels, plus an archive of older content. There are a number of other catch-up apps available, such as ITV Hub and All 4, but iPlayer still remains the real jewel in the crown.
Note that a TV Licence is required for streaming of live television broadcasts in the UK, as well as catch-up TV on iPlayer. See Do I need a TV Licence? for more details.
If you’re happy to pay a monthly fee then there are some excellent options. Existing Sky customers in the UK will want Sky Go which lets you watch content from the service on your phone or tablet, so long as you have a WiFi or data connection. Should you wish to access the same movies and shows without a Sky contract, NowTV offers this on a variety of reasonable price tiers.
Amazon Prime members are automatically entitled to its Prime Instant Video service (and the accompanying app), featuring a number of decent movies plus Amazon exclusive TV shows like American Gods, The Grand Tour, and Mr Robot.
Perhaps the most groundbreaking app in this area is Netflix. The service offe
Best Music Apps
Google Play Music
Amazon Prime Music
BBC iPlayer Radio
Much like with TV & Movies, there is a wide range of excellent music streaming services that offer millions of tracks for a monthly subscription.
Most charge £9.99 / $9.99 to access the songs, plus offline listening capabilities, or £14.99 / $14.99 if you prefer a family plan with six individual accounts.
The top apps we recommend are Spotify (which has an amazing free tier), Google Play Music, Deezer, Apple Music, and Amazon Prime Music, and you can see a detailed breakdown of their individual merits in our best music streaming services comparison.
There are a few highlights worth noting though, such as the fact that you can access your entire audio collection (up to 50,000 tracks) from your Android device, once you’ve uploaded the content to Google Play Music on your PC.
Amazon Prime members also have access to Prime Music as part of their subscription, which includes over two million songs that can be downloaded to their devices. If you’ve yet to try the service, read our beginner’s guide to Amazon Prime, as it has many other benefits.
Of course, there’s still good old radio, with many Android phones and tablets coming with FM radio apps that only require plugging in a pair of headphones to act as the aerial. For Wi-Fi or data connections BBC iPlayer Radio and TuneIn are great options, with an impressive range of stations and shows.
Best Reading Apps
Amazon’s Kindle devices may well be one of the best ways to read eBooks, but thanks to the free Kindle app you can just use your phone or tablet instead. The selection of titles available is the largest we know of, and once again Prime Members have the added bonus of Prime Reading being part of their subscription.
This offers hundreds of books and magazines for free, or you can upgrade to Kindle Unlimited (£7.99 / $9.99) which expands the selection to over a million titles and thousands of audiobooks.
Other apps worth exploring are Kobo Books, Google Play Books, and for those who already have a collection of ePub, doc, mobi or other eBooks formats there’s eBoox Reader.
If you prefer shorter prose, then Readly is the answer. This is a subscription-based magazine service that lets you read as many mags as you want for a one-off monthly fee. Check it out with a free trial.
With Marvel superheroes all the rage in cinemas, you can get up to speed with the various backstories of Thor, Iron Man, Scarlett Witch, or characters from DC and a wide range of independent publishers through the excellent Comics app.
It might not technically be reading, but Audible is a great choice if you want to try out audiobooks. A monthly subscription of £7.99 / $14.95 gives you one credit to buy any audiobook in the copious Audible range, and you keep this even if you end your subscription.
A free trial gives you a credit to spend, which once again remains yours whether you sign up or not. So, if you want to get through that latest bestseller while walking the dog, driving, or relaxing in the bath, then Audible is a fantastic solution.
Finally, Pocket is a superb, free way to read articles you find on the web. Simply share the article to Pocket and you’ll be able to enjoy it offline when you have more time.
Best Photography Apps
PicsArt Photo Studio
Smartphone cameras are better than ever, but there are apps that can make a good thing great. Snapseed is one such option, as it offers impressive editing controls that are easy and quick to apply.
For the more creative types, PicsArt Photo Studio is a wonderful way to make collages or artistic blends of images that can take snaps and turn them into masterpieces. The basic app is free, but to access 3000+ premium stickers, filters, fonts, and other tools you’ll need to move to the PicsArt Gold subscription that costs around £6 / $8 each month.
Make sure you have Google Photos installed and configured on your device, as it will automatically back up your snaps and video clips over a Wi-Fi connection. This has the advantages of not only keeping photos safe if you lose or break your device, but also accessible from any other computer on which you are signed into your Google account.
And don’t forget about Instagram and Flickr, which remain arguably the best places to share your photographic exploits with the world.
Best Productivity Apps
Phones and tablets are more like mini PCs these days, making them viable devices for getting some work done. With online productivity services and cloud storage you get the benefit of being able to access all your office documents from wherever you are, and collaborate on them with colleagues.
At Tech Advisor we make regular use of Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Google Docs and Google Sheets for work tasks both in and out the office. But there are plenty of other app choices, not least of which is Microsoft’s Office suite, with its free apps for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.
With OneDrive you also get useful cloud storage, but you might prefer Dropbox, Google Drive, or one of the other options found on our round-up of the best cloud-storage services.
We’re also big fans of Slack for instant messaging between colleagues. It’s much easier to follow than a long email thread where various people reply to different messages all at once, plus there’s the added fun brought by its GIF support.
The ability to create different channels and keep some private, makes it easier to stop threads descending into confusion, plus we can discuss the latest episode of Game or Thrones or Line of Duty without spoiling it for those yet to catch up. Come on, Jim!
One app that’s specific to us as a tech media publisher, but also useful for anyone whose business involves a website, is Google Analytics. Using the Analytics Android app we can see not only how many people are reading this very article right now, but what drove them to it, on what type of device they’re browsing and other useful stats.
Best Games for Android
There are far too many great games on Android to be able to quickly slim it down to a few for this article. That’s why we’ve put together our massive Best Android games of all time roundup.
So, whether it’s a quick five-minute puzzle game to keep you busy while waiting for the bus or a deeply immersive story-driven epic, you’re sure to find something to satiate your gaming desires.
Best News & Weather Apps
Met Office Weather Forecast
BBC News is a well-built news portal, replete with breaking news notifications. Another excellent option is the AP News from Associated Press, with its world-wide coverage of stories. For newspaper fans, The Guardian is the best example of a modern app-based alternative to the broadsheets, while Google also has a good News and Weather app.
For all your weather needs there’s Met Office, AccuWeather, Dark Sky, plus the good old BBC Weather app so you can choose the one that tells you it’s going to be sunny tomorrow.
Best Shopping Apps
Online shopping is now a regular, indeed preferable, way to stock up on food, clothing, books, and all other things that keep the wheels of capitalism turning.
For groceries, check out our roundup of the best food shopping services as it goes into far greater detail than we can here.
Looking to pick up some books, DVDs, trousers, a lawn mower, or outboard motor? Well, Amazon Shopping is the app for you, as it helped popularise online shopping in the first place and now dominates the landscape.
Fashionistas will enjoy the visually rich Asos app which not only gathers together a wide range of clothing, but also has videos of models wearing them so you can see how you might look.
eBay, the online auction site that again sells just about everything, remains another great place to find a bargain or two, and these days there’s more new stuff listed than second-hand.
Quidco offers cashback, discounts & voucher codes on sites like eBay, Boots, Argos, Waterstones, and many others, while VoucherCodes and GroupOn gather together deals to save you money on a variety of products and experiences.
You can also check our deals pages for up to date bargains on tech.
Best Banking Apps
With all that shopping, you’ll probably want to keep an eye on your finances. Obviously here you’re going to download the app for the bank you use, rather than the one that has the nicest interface or features, but it’s worth keeping in mind that apps such as these exist to make managing your account much easier.
Some popular banking apps in the UK include Barclays, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds, MBNA, Nationwide, NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland and Santander. There are also apps for credit card companies such as American Express, BarclayCard and Capital One.
A number of new, app-centric ‘challenger’ banks have started recently, offering a thoroughly modern approach to finances and how we interact with them. These include Starling, Monzo, N26, Revolut and others. To see whether they would be right for you read our What is Starling Bank and is it safe to use? feature.
Best Travel Apps
Okay, you’ve done your shopping, checked what little remains of your balance, and decided it’s time to take a break from all your worries. If you’re planning a trip in or out of the city then we recommend National Rail to keep tabs on the trains. For their London-dwelling subterranean cousins there’s Tube Map, and if you need info on buses then there’s CityMapper.
While in town, why not take the chance to visit the theatre or a gig? Last minute tickets can be found via the Dice or Today Tix apps, whether you’re in London, LA, Chicago, New York or one of several other cities.
Uber is a brilliant app for grabbing a cab within minutes in more than 50 countries, but if you’re driving yourself then Waze will ensure that you miss the traffic hotspots and get to your destination in as little time as possible.
Should you wish to leave the country entirely, try SkyScanner as it scours the internet for the cheapest flights, and be sure to also download Hotels.com, LateRooms, and TripAdvisor to help you find a nice place to stay overnight.
best game apps for tablets
Tablets are excellent devices for mobile games. Their larger screen sizes allow you to enjoy the graphics more. It also lets developers spread out the controls for an easier, better feel. Android tablets aren’t the most popular devices in the world. Many developers are making games that play in portrait mode and make more sense on phones. However, there are some games that are just plain better on tablets. Here are the best Android tablet games.
We’d also like to give an honorable mention to emulators. They work great on tablets, especially if you have a controller. You can see our best list of Android emulators here.
The best Android tablet games
Bridge Constructor Portal
The Escapists 1 and 2
Kingdom Rush Vengeance
Old School Runescape
Riptide GP: Renegade
Square Enix games
This War of Mine
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How we chose the best Android tablet apps
So what makes a game better suited for tablets than smartphones? Well, it’s actually an easier determination than one would expect. We looked at all kinds of things, including controls, orientation, and how much information was displayed on the screen all at once. Every game on this list is in landscape orientation, has simple and accessible controls, and doesn’t require players to reach into the middle of the screen during action sequences if the game has action sequences. Once we disqualified games that aren’t friendly to larger displays, the list came together fairly quickly. Let’s get started!
Price: Free to play
Alto’s Odyssey is one of the best runners of 2018. It features simple, but beautiful graphics, easy game play and mechanics, and a simple premise. You ski down a hit while making massive jumps and avoiding obstacles. Players collect coins along the way to unlock stuff in the in-game store. The game also has 180 goals to complete, various levels to play through, and even small extras like dynamic lighting and weather. It’s easily one of the best infinite runners of all time and its landscape mode orientation makes it even better on tablets than it does on phones. The game is free to play, but you probably won’t even notice. Most of the in-game purchases are for cosmetics anyway.
Beamdog games (seven games total)
Price: $9.99 each
Beamdog is a developer on Google Play. They specialize in porting old PC games to Android. Beamdog currently has seven titles out right now. They are Baldur’s Gate I and II, Icewind Dale, Neverwinter Nights, Seige of Dragonspear, Axis & Allies 1942, and Planescape: Torment EE. The six RPG games have similar mechanics. They are massive, hardcore RPGs with tons of skills, bad guys, dungeons, loot, and long stories. Axis & Allies 1942 is a mobile version of the classic Hasbro board game. The UI is often cramped on even larger phones. Thus, tablets really are the best devices for these games. They run for $9.99 for the full game. There are also optional in-app purchases for stuff like voice packs and other customizations.
Read more: The best RPGs and JRPGs for Android
Bridge Constructor Portal
Bridge Constructor Portal is one of the newer Android games. It works perfectly well on phones. However, the larger size of the tablet screen makes pinpoint movement easier for this game. It features a bunch of levels, elements of both Portal and Bridge Constructor games, and Google Play Games support. It plays a little hard into the fan service of the Portal universe. However, it’s still a rock-solid puzzle game. It’s also a pay-once game with no additional in-app purchases or advertisements. It’s also free if you use Google Play Pass.
The Escapists 1 and 2
The Escapists 2 is an escape-puzzle simulation game. You play as a prisoner in, well, a prison. The goal is to break out of prison without getting caught. Players must play the role of a model prisoner by showing up to their prison job and going to meals. In the meantime, you’ll be crafting various things, hiding various contraband items, and making plans to get out of there. The game includes nine prisons, an in-depth crafting and trading system, and more. It’s quite good for its price tag and it’s also available on Google Play Pass for free.
Kingdom Rush Vengeance
Price: $4.99 with in-app purchases
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Kingdom Rush Vengeance is the latest game in a series of popular tower defense titles. This plays like a classic tower defense game. You build towers and send out heroes to defeat the bad guys before they reach the end of the level. There are a bunch of levels, towers, and heroes to play with along with many, many upgrades as well as boss fights. The UI is just fine on a phone. However, all the bad guys can make everything feel cluttered and tablets help it feel less so. Almost any tower defense game would be good for tablets, including popular ones like Bloons TD 6 and others. We only recommend Kingdom Rush Vengeance over all the others because it’s free with Google Play Pass.
Levelhead is an outstanding platformer and one of the best Android tablet games. The base game features over 90 levels with smooth gameplay and some extra features if you want to speed run the game. However, the game’s hallmark feature is the ability to design and upload your own levels similar to Mario Maker. You can also download other people’s levels and play them. A tablet gives you more space for editing levels so it’s actually a decent way to play the game. The game is free with Google Play Pass and is also available on iOS, PC, and Nintendo Switch with full cross-save capabilities. The developer’s other title, Crashlands, is another great tablet game.
Also try: The best platformer games for Android
Price: $6.99 with in-app purchases
Minecraft dropped the Pocket Edition moniker in 2017. It’s not the full-fledged version of the game. That means it’s playable with Xbox One and PC versions of the game as well. We recommend this one for tablets because of all of the controls. There is a ton to do in Minecraft, including explore, craft, build, and do other stuff. Microsoft sells servers at a monthly cost in case you don’t want to make your own. Additionally, the mobile version is cheaper than the console or PC versions. In any case, it’s one of the excellent Android tablet games.
Next up: The best games like Minecraft for Android
Old School Runescape
Price: Free / $10.99 per month / $99.99 per year
Old School Runescape (OSRS for short) is one of the most popular MMORPGs in the world. You can play it on mobile, tablets, a web browser, and on desktop. There is a massive world to explore, a healthy player base to interact and trade with, and plenty of quests to complete. Unlike most, this one works on a subscription basis. Members get some additional benefits like a bigger bank. It’s up to you if you want to play the free version or the subscription version. This is probably the best MMORPG on mobile and it has a landscape mode that works very well for tablets. Additionally, the developers also finally released an official RuneScape client (Google Play) for Android, which would also be better on tablets.
Price: Free / $3.99
Pocket City is a city-building simulator similar to Sim City. That’s a rough sentence to say out loud. Anyway, this is a fairly basic city sim. You build various types of buildings, roads, and utilities to make your town run smoothly. It features weather disasters along with positive things like parties that make your city feel alive. Players progressively unlock more land, more buildings, and more stuff as they play. The free version is just the base game. The premium version includes more features, a dedicated sandbox mode, and no advertising. This is a surprisingly good Sim City-style game and we love that it isn’t a free top lay game. You can also play in either landscape or portrait mode.
Read more: The best simulation games for Android
Price: Free to play
Rebel Inc is one of the newer tablet games on the list. It’s by the same developers of Plague Inc so you know this one is going to be good. You drop into a region in unrest and you must fix the problem. The game includes seven scenarios, tons of insurgent strategies to overcome, and a branching story based on your decisions. The developers researched most of these things as they made the game to make it as realistic as possible. There are also eight governors with different abilities to try out. It’s a free-to-play game, but it’s honestly one of the better ones.
Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.