Best Google Nexus 7 Apps: 16 Android-Tablet Downloads, All Free

You have a shiny new Google Nexus 7 Android tablet. Now it's time to make it your own with some valuable mobile applications. CIO.com's Al Sacco shares his favorite Nexus 7 tablet apps for entertainment, social networking, remote-PC access, instant messaging, sports, gaming and more. Best of all: They're all free.

Google Nexus 7 apps

It's easy to pack your Android tablet with tons of mobile apps; just launch the Google Play app store and starting downloading. Finding quality tablet apps that are optimized for devices such as the Nexus 7 is not so simple. The following 16 Android tablet apps truly shine on the Nexus 7, and many are also compatible with other Android tablets. I use each and every one of these downloads regularly, and they all deserve a home on your Nexus 7.

Amazon Kindle for Android Tablets

Amazon Kindle for Android Tablets

Your Nexus 7 is a wonderful e-reader, and the Kindle for Android application brings Amazon.com's collection of more than 750,000 digital books directly to your device. The app lets you purchase books any time you have wireless connectivity and read whenever you have battery life. Many classic books are free, and best-sellers start at just $9.99--less than what you'd pay for a new print version in a bookstore. You can preview books before buying and read them on multiple Kindle devices, thanks to the app's Whispersync technology, which transfers bookmarks and other annotations between devices.

Download Kindle for free from the Google Play store

Splashtop 2 HD for Android Tablets

Splashtop 2 HD for Android Tablets

If you've ever wanted to remotely view and access files and apps on your PC while you're on the go, Splashtop 2 HD is the Android tablet app for you. Simply install the software on your Nexus 7 and your PC or Mac, create an account, and you'll be up and running in no time. The navigation controls take some getting used to but, Splashtop 2 HD is an invaluable app for all Android tablet owners.

Splashtop 2 HD is available for free from the Google Play store, but you need to pay $0.99 a month or $9.99 a year to access all available features

Facebook for Android Tablets

Facebook for Android Tablets

Facebook for Android tablets offers all the basic Facebook Web functionality, including access to your news feed and Friends' status updates. You can upload photos and view albums, which look great on the Nexus 7's display. You can write on Friends' Walls and respond to posts on yours. A Facebook Places feature lets you "check-in" to various locations. And you can message connections via the app's built-in chat feature.

Download Facebook for free from the Google Play store

Netflix for Android Tablets

Netflix for Android Tablets

The free Netflix for Android tablets app gives Netflix subscribers access to all of the company's streaming-video TV shows and movies. The Nexus 7's large display makes it simple to browse for shows by genre and surf through recommendations based on shows and movies you watched in the past. The tablet's screen size is perfect for streaming video while on the go. And the app syncs across devices and browsers so you can start watching a movie on a computer and then pick up where you left off with the Netflix Nexus 7 app.

Download Netflix for free from the Google Play store

IM+ for Android Tablets

IM+ for Android Tablets

The IM+ app for Android tablets is an all-in-one instant messaging app that lets you chat with contacts using a variety of popular IM and chat services, including Facebook, Skype (as an in-app purchase), MSN/Live Messenger, Google Talk, Yahoo!, AIM/iChat, ICQ, RenRen, and Jabber. The app's UI is specifically designed for Android tablets, and it works well and looks great on the Nexus 7.

Download the free version of IM+ from the Google Play store, or get an ad-free "Pro" version for $4.99

Google Currents for the Nexus 7

Google Currents for the Nexus 7

Google's Currents app for Android offers a variety of free online reading material in one mobile-friendly location. Currents is basically a souped-up RSS reader with a polished interface that lets you add and find articles quickly and easily. And the service offers high-quality content from a number of reputable sources, including yours truly. The popular and similar Flipboard app is also available for the Nexus 7, but I prefer Currents' streamlined interface and automatic offline-reading functionality.

Download Google Currents for free from the Google Play store

Amazon App Store for Android Tablets

Amazon App Store for Android Tablets

Google's official Android Market, Play Store, is a great place to find quality Nexus 7 software, but the true app connoisseur always appreciates new options. Amazon's Appstore is one of the best Android Market alternative, if not the best. It provides a number of unique features and offers, including a new, normally-paid app for free every day, and a cool Test Drive feature for trying out new software. You need to tweak a few settings to download the app store, but Amazon details the process on its website, and it's worth the hassle.

Download the Amazon App Store for Android for free from Amazon.com

MLB At Bat for Android Tablets

MLB At Bat for Android Tablets

MLB.com's At Bat 12 apps bring the baseball game to you, wherever you are. The free version lets you monitor scores for all games. You also get free news, standings, rosters, schedules and stats. And the software can be customized to show relevant information on your favorite teams. The full At Bat app adds home and away audio broadcasts, among other features. And if you're an MLB.tv subscriber, the full app is free and you can watch any game whenever you want. (Blackout restrictions apply, and not all devices support MLB.tv.) Play ball!

Download At Bat Lite for free from the Google Play Store or upgrade to the full version for $9.99

Dropbox for Android Tablets

Dropbox for Android Tablets

Dropbox, a cloud-based storage service, makes it easy to share files between Web-connected devices, including PCs, tablets and smartphones. Dropbox apps exists for all major mobile platforms, and you get 2GB of free storage just for creating an account—more if you recommend the service to others. You simply load up your Dropbox with content, launch the Android app and everything within your Dropbox is available to you via tablet. You can also upload new content while on the go. (Google's Drive cloud-storage service offers 5GB of space for free, but Dropbox works across more platforms and devices.)

Download Dropbox for free from the Google Play store

Movies by Flixster for Android Tablets

Movies by Flixster for Android Tablets

Movies by Flixster is a must-have app for all film buffs with Android tablets. Find the closest theaters using the app's GPS or a manually- entered location and mark your favorite theatres for easy access in the future. View show times, trailers and reviews from popular services like Rotten Tomatoes. Buy movie tickets using your Android device. Find information on new release DVDs. Browse Flixster's collection of more than 60,000 DVDs for future viewing. You can even stream movies to your Nexus 7 tablet using the Flixster app.

Download Movies by Flixster for free from the Google Play store

Instagram for Android Tablets

Instagram for Android Tablets

The idea behind Instagram is simple: You snap a picture, import it into the app, pick a specific filter, add a frame or an effect, and then share it with your followers. The Nexus 7 may not have a rear-facing camera, but that doesn't mean you can't view Instagram photos from your friends on its large display. And the front camera works in a pinch. You'll be amazed just how cool boring old tacos can look on your Nexus 7 after a bit of Instagramming. (Follow me on Instagram: ASacco.)

Download Instagram for free from the Google Play Store

Google+ for Android Tablets

Google+ for Android Tablets

The Google+ mobile app for Android looks great on the Nexus 7 tablet, and it provides the vast majority of features and functionality found on the full desktop Google+ page with a streamlined, user-friendly interface. Check your stream, update your status, create and participate in group video "Hangouts," add and view photos, view individual "Circles" and more, all from your Android tablet.

Download Google+ for free from the Google Play Store

Tablified Market HD for Android Tablets

Tablified Market HD for Android Tablets

Tablified Market HD for Android tablets is an app that helps you find more tablet apps. The Tablified interface is a bit rough around the edges, but it's a great way to find new and different software for your Nexus 7. It integrates with Google's official Play app store, so you don't need to download software from any unknown or untrustworthy sources. And a news and app-reviews section helps you easily find information on apps of interest.

Download Tablified Market HD for free from the Google Play store

Google Earth for Android Tablets

Google Earth for Android Tablets

Google Earth is a satellite-image service that lets you look at and manipulate photographs of just about anywhere on the planet. The Nexus 7 is a perfect device for doing so due to its large display and touch screen, which make zooming and navigating a breeze. A new 3D imagery feature lets you view 3D recreations of a number of popular cities, including San Francisco, Boston and Rome, with every building modeled in 3D. There's no better way to see the world without leaving your couch than Google Earth on a Nexus 7 tablet.

Download Google Earth from the Google Play store

Zinio for Android Tablets

Zinio for Android Tablets

Google's Play Magazine store is a good place to find digital magazines optimized for your Nexus 7 tablet, but the similar Zinio online magazine service has a larger selection and one very important difference: Zinio lets you read your magazines on a variety of different devices, including PCs, Macs, smartphones and tablets. You can only read Play magazines on Android smartphones and tablets. Zinio's flexibility can be invaluable if you want to read your magazines on non-Android devices.

Download Zinio for free from the Google Play store

Fruit Ninja THD Free for Android Tablets

Fruit Ninja THD Free for Android Tablets

The idea behind Fruit Ninja THD: Chop up as much flying fruit as you can before it falls to the ground, while avoiding projectile bombs. Three different modes keep the game-play fresh. The Nexus 7's screen real estate makes it a perfect device for fileting fruit, and the tablet is just the right size to hold in one hand while slicing with the other. The THD app is also optimized for the Nexus 7's NVIDIA Tegra 2 chipset. I don't always play video games on my tablet, but when I do, I play Fruit Ninja. (An ad-free version is also available for $3.)

Download Fruit Ninja THD Free from the Google Play store