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The Best Free Apps for the Galaxy Tab 2

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There are thousands of free apps that you can download and use on your Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, but it may be hard to know what apps are best. Eric Butow gets you started by discussing ten free apps that increase safety, productivity, and creativity.

There are literally thousands of free apps available for your Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 running Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean), but how do you know which ones are best? The Google Play Store and Samsung's App Store are good places to find free apps, but there are just as many sources on the Web that suggest good free apps. This article gleans several of these sources to create a top ten list so you can start your exploration of Jelly Bean apps.

The following suggestions are ones that aren't covered in "My Samsung Galaxy Tab 2"article or in other articles such as those for blogging on your Tab 2.

Many of the apps discussed in this article use the "cloud," and you'll see this term referenced in the article. In computing parlance, the cloud means that information is not stored on your own computer but instead on the computers owned by the company that produces the app.

Astrid

If you want to replace a notepad with your Galaxy Tab 2 to help you keep track of what you're supposed to do while you're out and about, the Astrid app acts as a powerful to-do list. You can log in to the app using your Gmail account; once you log in, you'll see that the screen is split into three different sections, as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1 When you start the Astrid app, you can start typing in a task at the bottom of the middle section on the screen

Once you create tasks, you can order them in various categories such as your shopping list and then you can order the tasks in each category by order of importance. If you want to track your time spent on a task, or time that you wasted doing something else instead of on your task, you can set a timer within Astrid to see where your time is going.

Evernote

Evernote is a very popular cloud service for taking and storing notes and other bits of information such as those ideas that pop into your head at 3:00 a.m. Once you create an Evernote account, you can access your notes from anywhere—on your desktop computer, through the Web, and also on your Tab 2 using the Evernote app for Android shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2 The Evernote app shows the most recent apps on the right side of the screen

If you already have an Evernote account, you can log in to the app using that account. If you don't, you can create a new account within the app and then you can access Evernote from your other computing devices. You can also attach video files, audio files, image files, and Web pages to your notes as well as share your notes with other users.

Kayak

If you're going to travel and not only want to find the best deals but also want an app to manage your entire trip, consider using the Kayak app shown in Figure 3. You can check pricing and availability for flights, hotels, and cars.

Figure 3 Tap one of the tiles on the right side of the screen to get information about different areas to manage your trip

You can set up Kayak to monitor prices and send you updates on your Tab 2 when a price for a specific portion of your trip changes, such as the price of airfare to your destination. When you set up your trip, Kayak provides information about your entire trip itinerary within the app. You can also track flights to see when your plane will arrive.

Tablified Market HD

If you want to find apps that are used only for tablets such as the Tab 2, the Tablified Market HD app shown in Figure 4 allows you to shop for apps in the Google Play Store that are designed specifically for tablets.

Figure 4 Tap the What's Hot tab to view apps on the Google Play Store that people are downloading on their tablets

You can search for apps by tapping the Apps, Games, or What's Hot section titles in the menu bar at the top of the screen. You can also search for a specific app by tapping the Search icon at the right side of the menu bar and then typing in your search term(s). When you find an app you want, tap the app to get more information, purchase the app if necessary, and download the app to your Tab 2.

TeamViewer for Remote Control

When you're on the road, you may find a need to access your desktop computer and control its functions so you can get things done. The TeamViewer for Remote Control app, shown in Figure 5, allows you to connect to a computer running Windows, MacOS, or Linux that has the appropriate TeamViewer app installed on that computer.

Figure 5 You can test the TeamViewer app connection by tapping the Establish a Test Connection button

If you have a Wi-Fi connection enabled on your Tab 2, you can use TeamViewer for Remote Control to run software on the remote computer, edit files on the remote computer, and transfer files between your computer and your Tab 2.

TweetCaster

Though Twitter already has an Android app, you may want to consider TweetCaster for a better Twitter user experience on your Tab 2.

Unlike many Twitter apps, TweetCaster (shown in Figure 6) is both optimized for tablets and free to use, though the one drawback is that you'll have to see a series of advertisements at the bottom of the screen.

Figure 6 A display ad appears at the bottom of the list of tweets at the right side of the TweetCaster screen

After you log in with your Twitter account, you'll see a list of all your tweets in your Timeline at the right side of the screen, and the most recent tweet appears at the top of the list. The left side of the screen allows you to access different Twitter functions such as viewing a list of tweets with mentions of you.

Brightest Flashlight Free

If you find yourself without power while you're using your Tab 2 and don't have access to (or can't find) a flashlight, you can turn your Tab 2 into a flashlight by using the Brightest Flashlight Free app. This app turns on all available lights on the device, including the screen, the Camera Flash LED, the Keyboard Backlight, and the Soft Keys Backlight.

When you turn on the app as shown in Figure 7, you'll see that most of the screen is bright white except for a display at the top of the screen, the black Notification Bar at the bottom of the screen, and the Settings icon that appears above the Notification Bar.

Figure 7 Use the Tab 2 as a flashlight by pointing the brightened screen away from you

You can open the Settings menu to change sound, timer, and display settings by tapping the Settings icon. For example, you can change the timer to keep the flashlight on for two minutes, ten minutes, or always keep the flashlight on until you close the app. Note that this app operates in vertical orientation only.

AVG AntiVirus Free

Android is not immune from virus attacks, and AVG provides a free and effective antivirus app for Jelly Bean that you can download from the App Store. After you install the AVG AntiVirus Free app, the app will ask you to activate it by tapping the Activate button. The main menu screen appears as shown in Figure 8 so you can perform certain tasks.

Figure 8 Tap one of the tiles at the top of the screen to run scans, get system information, set up anti-theft protection, and check privacy settings

You should start scanning your app for viruses right away by tapping the Scan Now button. You can also check your Tab 2's performance and privacy settings. As an added bonus you can also set up anti-theft features, so you can lock the Tab 2 and keep your data safe in case you lose (or someone steals) the unit.

Sketchbook Express for Tablets

Autodesk, the company that's best known for its AutoCAD computer-aided drawing software, also produces the free Sketchbook Express for Tablets app so you can draw pictures on your Tab 2. The Sketchbook Express screen shows a menu bar with icons at the top of the screen, and the canvas screen appears below the menu bar.

When you start Sketchbook Express for the first time, you can view a tutorial about how to use your fingers to draw pictures within the app. If you need to review this tutorial in the future, tap the Information icon in the menu bar (the third icon from the left that has the letter i in a circle) and then tap Help in the menu bar at the top of the screen. The help screen appears as shown in Figure 9.

Figure 9 Swipe left and right within the Help screen to view more pages in the tutorial

Shopular

If you like to collect coupons and find deals at your favorite stores, but you want the flexibility to check for coupons while you're out shopping, you can use the Shopular app on Tab 2 to find coupons updated daily. When you start the Shopular app, the app will ask you to select your favorite stores by tapping the store tile as shown in Figure 10. After you tap a store tile, a gold star appears in the upper-left corner of the tile.

Figure 10 Swipe up and down in the Shopular screen to search for your favorite stores

After you select the stores you want to track, tap Done at the right side of the red Shopular menu bar at the top of the screen. You can get coupons and browse weekly and Sunday circular ads for stores including Macy's, Kohl's, Walmart, and Target. The app also uses the GPS system on your Tab 2 and will alert you of coupons for a particular store when you enter that store.

Summary

These apps should get you started toward being more productive and creative with your Tab 2. However, this is not an exhaustive list of great apps to download. You can use the Tablified app, the Samsung Apps or S Suggest apps that are already preinstalled on your Tab 2, and search the Google Play Store to find apps approved for use on Jelly Bean.

You can find more about these and other apps by checking out TechRadar, Tech Domino, Digital Trends, the Google Play Store, and the Samsung Apps Store. Happy exploring!

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