The Nexus 7 is an awesome tablet, having a smaller form factor and lower price than the iPad has made it a much more attractive option to many. However, it was meant to be Google’s version of the Kindle Fire, as a content delivery device. Thanks to the breadth of apps in the Google Play Store, your seven-inch tablet can be re-purposed into a productivity tool. Here’s our guide to the best apps to get your Nexus 7 ready for some work.
(Hint: Click the app headings to find each on the Play Store)
This well-known alternative keyboard is a great addition for the Nexus 7. While the standard Android keyboard is good, Swiftkey 3 Tablet takes things to the next level with spookily accurate word predictions, which learn from your Gmail and social networks. Not only that but you can tailor the shape and size of the keyboard to suite your needs. The portrait mode can be tweaked so that it’s just the right height for your thumbs, and the timing for long presses can be changed to make your typing more efficient. Furthermore, the landscape keyboard can be split into two for thumb typing.
Everyone needs a text editor, especially one that can work with their Dropbox files. DroidEdit can be used to edit any sort of text files although it is aimed at programmers, as it recognises a range of programming source files and script formats (e.g. .sh, .js, .php, .html) and colour codes commands and variables for you.
Given that Google doesn’t have its own note taking system (besides Google’s word processor), the field is open for third parties to provide cloud note services. Microsoft’s offering to the cloud note market is OneNote. It is part of the Office 2010 package, although you can also use it for free online from SkyDrive’s website, and there is a free OneNote application for Windows 8 and Windows RT. Therefore you really can access your OneNote notes from anywhere. The Android version of OneNote is relatively limited compared to the web client and the built-in version for Windows Phone 7; but it saves text, lists and photos; which is enough to get the job done.
Evernote is the most popular online note taking system, and offers a far more functional service than is offered with OneNote. While the latter offers text and photo uploading, Evernote also offers audio notes, and a limited degree of optical character recognition on uploaded photographs.
If you live in the Google Cloud, then Drive is a no-brainer. Provided you have an internet connection, you can create, edit and collaborate on documents and spreadsheets. Additionally, you may view images and PDF files. Google Drive does have offline functionality, but files have to be individually selected for offline work, and you cannot create files when offline.
This is the best all-round office suite for Nexus 7 users who live in the cloud and need to edit Microsoft Office files. OfficeSuite supports remote editing of files stored on Google Drive, Dropbox, box, SugarSync, and even SkyDrive. Its text rendering leaves a little to be desired, but it is the only office suite out there to support editing of SkyDrive files. Also it can work with local files, so working offline is a cinch.
Even though the Nexus 7 has its own storage, being attached to your cloud storage is essential. Dropbox (#7.)is the most well-known cloud storage service (if you’re not a member, sign up here) where you’ll get 2GB of storage for free. However, there are alternatives like SugarSync (#8.) which has the widest range of mobile apps and offers 5GB on free accounts. Meanwhile, SkyDrive (#9.) gives you 7GB of storage and allows you to edit Microsoft Office files in a desktop browser too. Lastly, don’t forget Google Drive!
Pocket, formally known as Read it later, is an awesome service for anyone who is regularly inundated with articles to read – it’s like a DVR for web pages. Many Twitter apps support sending links to Pocket, and there is a plugin for the desktop Chrome browser. The Pocket app has many features for creating an enjoyable reading experience, such as font size, colour scheme, orientation lock, vertical scrolling or horizontal flipping. The Android version of Pocket even supports computer generated speech for reading articles to you.
Google Reader is an essential service for bloggers, journalists and enthusiasts. It is a powerful tool for keeping track of hundreds of RSS feeds. The official Android app faithfully reproduces the user experience of the desktop website – a must have.
If you carry your Nexus 7 around and need to access files on a USB stick, but don’t want to root your device, this one is for you. With a USB host cable (easily found on eBay or Amazon.), this application will allow you to view and download files on a USB flash drive.
If you want to be able to make phone calls or video calls from your Nexus 7, this app is essential. With Microsoft making Skype the replacement for Live Messenger, it will soon become much more important as an instant messaging client too.
LastPass is a cross platform password manager with plugins for every desktop browser and apps for every mobile client. The LastPass app has a built-in browser enabling you to enjoy a secure browsing experience where the app will fill in your login details and fill in your forms for you. You can also use it to retrieve your passwords via copying to the clipboard for quickly logging into apps and websites in the default browser.
The Nexus 7 has such a great screen – it’s almost begging to be drawn on, Sketchbook Mobile lets you do that with a plethora of virtual drawing implements. If you want to brain storm or sketch out an idea, grab this app.