With the release of tablet computers for Android, along with the Android 3.0 Honeycomb tablet operating system, the market for apps made with tablet PCs in mind is growing rapidly. Though a tablet PC will run standard apps built for mobiles, most of these are designed with phone interfaces and screens in mind so do not use the screen space effectively, often running in a low resolution covering only part of the screen. The greater screen size of a tablet computer means many dedicated tablet PC apps can shine; offering new and better user experiences. These are some of the latest tablet PC apps:
Pulse News is an RSS reader which arranges news stories for mailing list companies and social network updates in a novel manner by stacking them with relevant images to cover the screen in a grid and lets you scroll through them with a flick of a finger. This is a great use of the screen space on a tablet PC and makes the news easy to browse. It runs beautifully using some of Honeycomb’s new tricks for supporting animations which allow the smooth scrolling of text and images. Selecting any of the images by tapping on it instantly opens the news story, Facebook posts, Twitter feeds and even email creating a single, integrated experience. What’s more Pulse News is free. Surprisingly given the age of the desktop PC compared to tablet PCs interfaces like Pulse News are taking them far ahead of what came before for the desktop PC. It will be interesting to see how new ideas like this continue to develop.
CNN are one of the first major news organisations to create their own tablet computer app for news from their sites. It allows you to view news stories in a similar manner to Pulse with rows of images and headlines arranged in a grid and updated in real time. An interesting addition to the app is that it makes news a two way process by adding the iReport feature which lets users upload their own news stories to the iReport user submissions area. As this app is power-hungry it is only available for Honeycomb tablet PCs, older versions of Android will not be able to download it from the Android Market. CNN News is also a free app.
Fuze Meeting is aimed at businesses and anyone who needs to coordinate projects online, offering support for up to three people to video conference in high definition with a host of features to support the meeting. Files can be uploaded and shared easily via the Cloud while desktop contents can be streamed and highlighted with iPoint, the online equivalent of a laser pointer. It also supports chat through all of the major online chat clients. The basic version of the app is free and can be upgraded by registering and paying to allow meetings with more participants, beating even a desktop PC for meetings online.
One of Google’s own apps that benefits the most from tablets is Google Body, the 3D viewer that lets you examine every external and internal part of the human body from any angle. You can zoom in on individual features which are all fully labelled as well as select layers such as bones, muscles, organs or the skin to display. This app will be of educational and general interest to children all the way up to adults and those studying medical subjects. It is also free, making it ideal for teachers to use as an educational tool.
The advance of tablet PCs to the point where they are competing for market share with laptops and even desktop PC is very exciting for the future of apps as the tablet computer gains more processing and graphics power. Recently the investment bank Morgan Stanley estimated that tablet computer sales would increase at least six-fold in the near term, making tablets the place where new ideas will be tried out from many up and coming software companies.
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