15 Best Google Android Apps for Newbies -- All Free

If you just nabbed a new Android smartphone or tablet, or are coveting one, which apps should you download immediately? Check out these 15 picks from CIO.com's mobile maestro Al Sacco.

One of the best things about Google's ( GOOG ) Android mobile OS is the vast collection of crafty developers constantly working away on new mobile applications for Android phones and tablets. In other words, Android is all about the software. And there's certainly no shortage of Android apps.

As such, navigating Google's Android Market can be intimidating for new or beginner users, to say the least. So we handpicked 15 free Android apps that every Google phone or tablet owner, whether you're a newbie or power-user, could benefit from installing.

Keep moving for details and download links. (Note: The following apps were tested on a Motorola ( MOT ) Atrix 4G running Android v2.2.1, but most should run on all new Android devices.)

Pandora Radio for Android

Pandora Radio for Android

A variety of cool, free Internet radio applications exist for the Android platform, but none offer the same quality music catalogue and customization options as the free Pandora for Android app. Pandora is easy to setup and use: Create and account, log in, simply pick an artist or band you like and the application creates a custom "station" based around that artist, with similar tunes, selected by other like-minded listeners.

Download Pandora Radio from the Android Market

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Twitter for Android

Twitter for Android

Any and all Twitter users with Android devices should download the most popular Twitter app on the Market: the official Twitter for Android app. The software boasts an intuitive and visually appealing interface. And though more advanced, feature-packed apps exist—like Plume for example—Twitter for Android provides all the basic Twitter functionality you'll need for free, with no ads.

Download Twitter from the Android Market

Google Maps for Android

Google Maps for Android

Google Maps is the must-have mobile-mapping app for Android smartphones. View your current whereabouts on a Google map, based on GPS or cell-tower-location; get walking/driving directions; share your current location with friends, via Google's "Latitude" service; and much more. All for free.

Download Google Maps from the Android Market

ScoreMobile for Android

ScoreMobile for Android

ScoreMobile is the Android-device-toting sports-nuts' dream app. The completely free app offers scores, statistics and more for a variety of sports and leagues, including both NFL and NCAA football, Major League Baseball, professional golf and NASCAR. Users looking for in-depth info on specific sports can find more full-features apps in the Market, but ScoreMobile is the best software for keeping tabs on a variety of game-types at once.

Download ScoreMobile from the Android Market

TV Guide Mobile for Android

Installing the TV Guide Mobile app for Android is like keeping an always up-to-date copy of TV Guide in your pocket; you'll never have to look beyond the screen of your Android device to determine your current local TV options. Just enter your location and TV provider, and you instantly get all relevant TV listings. And you can set favorite-show reminders that integrate with your Google Calendar so you never miss an episode of 30 Rock or Modern Family .

Amazon MP3 for Android

Amazon MP3 for Android

Amazon MP3 for Android is a must-have application for all mobile media enthusiasts. With simple navigation and a clean user interface, Amazon MP3 for Android makes it easy to find and purchase the songs and albums that you seek, over Wi-Fi or your cellular network. Free "Songs of the Day" mean you can frequently download new music without ever dropping a dime. And "Daily Deal Albums" are always available for $5 or less.

Dropbox for Android

Dropbox for Android

Dropbox, a cloud-based storage service, makes it quick and easy to share files between Web-connected devices, including PCs, tablets and smartphones. Dropbox apps exists for all major mobile platforms, and you get 2.0 GB 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 smartphone. You can also upload new content while on the go.

Download Dropbox from the Android Market

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Kindle for Android

Kindle for Android

The Kindle for Android e-reader application brings Amazon.com's collection of more than 750,000 digital books directly to your smartphone, so you can 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 print version in a book store. 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 from the Android Market

Facebook for Android

Facebook for Android

Facebook for Android offers all the basic Facebook Web-functionality, including access to your news feed and Friends' status updates. You can upload photos and view albums, as well as 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 from the Android Market

Movies for Android (By Flixster)

Movies for Android (By Flixster)

Flixster's Movies software is a must-have app for all film buffs with Android devices. Find the closest theatres using the app's GPS or 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. And browse Flixster's collection of more than 60,000 DVDs for future viewing.

Download Movies by Flixster from the Android Market

Poynt for Android

Poynt for Android

Poynt is the only mobile, local-search application for Android you'll ever need. The app uses your current location, based on GPS or user-input, to find the closest businesses, retailers, restaurants, gas prices, events and much more. Poynt offers a dedicated weather section, too. You can find local movie theatre listings and purchase tickets via Android. And the app integrates with your Google calendar and address book so you can quickly add contacts or events.

Download Poynt from the Android Market

SpeedTest.net Speed Test for Android

SpeedTest.net Speed Test for Android

Ever wondered just how fast the wireless carrier's cellular network is in or around your home or office? Thanks to the free Speed Test for Android application from SpeedTest.net, you can determine upload and download speeds for cellular and/or Wi-Fi networks. Just launch the app, hit "Begin Test" and you'll have a rough estimate of your network's upload and downloads speeds in a matter of seconds. And the app saves test results for future comparisons.

Download Speed Test from the Android Market

Urbanspoon for Android

Urbanspoon for Android

If you've ever found yourself in a strange city with an empty stomach and a hankering for some quality cuisine, Urbanspoon for Android is the app for you. Simply enter your location, pick the kind of food your want, specify a price range and then "shake" the app for restaurant recommendations that fit your parameters. And you can click on the suggested restaurants for more information, including contact details and maps, reviews and Facebook integration for sharing your choices.

Download Urbanspoon from the Android Market

Movela Netflix Queue Manager for Android

Movela Netflix Queue Manager for Android

No official Netflix for Android application exists at the moment, but the next best thing is surely Movela's Netflix Queue Manager for Android. The app lets you search Netflix's vast movie library and browse films by category, manage both your DVD and "instant" queues, rate movies and find recommendations based on your viewing habits—but unfortunately you cannot view Netflix streaming films.

Download Movela Netflix Queue Manager from the Android Market

Angry Birds

Angry Birds

Unless you choose to reside in the ground beneath a large stone, you've likely heard of the phenomenon that is Angry Birds. Born on the iPhone, but eventually ported to most major mobile platforms, Angry Birds is the most popular mobile game ever—and it's free on Android. Launch different types of birds in attempts to topple obstacles, foil your piggy-adversaries and save your unborn avian-spawn from total demise. And if the first version isn't enough for you, Angry Birds Seasons is also available for free download.

Download Angry Birds and Angry Birds Seasons via the Android Market

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