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Five must-have apps for the Nexus 7 Android tablet

There are tons of great games on Android but Angry Birds remains the popular favourite

If you used the release of the Nexus 7 as an excuse to dive into the world of Android tablets, you may be wondering what to do with it now.

If you used the release of the Nexus 7 as an excuse to dive into the world of Android tablets, you may be wondering what to do with it now.

Among other things, the Nexus 7’s peppy processor and graphics make it a natural for games, and the HD widescreen configuration give it instant cred for media playback and content consumption.

There are a ton of great apps out there – just check Google Play for a growing list of apps of all types, including a substantial list of apps specifically recommended by the Google Play team. Here are some of my faves – but feel free to leave your recommendations in the comments section below!

Flipboard (free)

While Flipboard isn’t the only app that aggregates content from your social feeds and favourite sites, it’s one of the best out there, thanks to its slick design and built-in list of sources. Set up like a digital magazine broken into sections, Flipboard displays stories on the tablet screen like they were news articles on the page of a newspaper or magazine, displaying photos linked inside tweets from your Twitter stream. Tap on a section to open, flip up or down through the items in that section, and then tap on them to open them up. Tap and hold an item to share it, flag it or view it elsewhere (or elsewhen). Flipboard will work on larger tablets or on your Android smartphone, but the Nexus 7’s screen gives it a nice balance between portability and readability.

Angry Birds Space HD ($2.95)

There are tons of great games on Android but Angry Birds remains the popular favourite, no matter what your platform. Angry Birds Space is the newest of the series, and its extraterrestrial setting forces you to rejig your strategy based on the gravity of various objects in the playing field. The HD version of the game is designed specifically for the larger tablet screen, which means it looks great on the Nexus 7.

Evernote (free)

Remember the last time you had a great idea, wrote it down, and then completely forgot where you left your notes? Sign up for a free account, and Evernote solves that problem. Jot notes into the app on your Nexus 7, and they’ll automatically appear when you fire up Evernote on your computer…and vice versa. You can even share notes between Android and iOS devices if you’re so inclined. You can attach multimedia items to a note (including recording an audio note, or a picture taken using the Nexus’ built in front-facingcamera). You can even sketch in some artwork using an interface similar to Evernote’s sister program Skitch. An essential tool for meeting addicts who want to ditch the piles of paper.

Sketchbook Mobile Express (free)

When words fail, it’s a lot easier to just draw a picture. Instead of grabbing pencil and paper, Autodesk’s Sketchbook Mobile Express might be the answer, offering you the ability to digitally sketch your ideas using tools that simulate pencil, charcoal, airbrush, pen, paint fills, and more. After tapping on one of the creation tools, you can adjust opacity parameters by tapping the circle in the middle of the tool ring, and unlike a lot of other free sketching utilities, Sketchbook Mobile Express allows you to customize your colours. While SBMX is pretty powerful compared to other freebies, it does still have a few limitations; you can spend $2.03 to upgrade to the full version, which includes more brush, layers, brush customization and the ability to export to PSD, PNG or JPEG.

Pocket (free)

I’m always running across things I want to read, but I tend to see them when I don’t really have time to fully read them. Pocket (formerly known as Read It Later) allows you to put things into a queue for later reading, whether you’re on your tablet, or using a web browser on your computer. On a mobile device with Pocket already onboard, just tap the share icon and select the “add to Pocket” option to push it into your Pocket queue. On a computer, you can add a “+Pocket” bookmarklet, and automatically add it to your queue just by clicking it from the bookmarks bar. Then, when you’re ready to catch up on your reading, just fire up the Pocket app on your Nexus 7 and pick your items from the list.