It’s going to be a good couple of months for tablets. Retail sales, and gadget sales in particular, tend to spike during the holiday months, and there is no shortage of superb tablets to choose from. You’ll likely see the hottest Android tablets, such as T-Mobile’s version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab, complete with 4G coverage, frequently in headlines.
Of course, some apps are not complete without a great deal of user customization. Here are three things I recommend doing the minute to get an Android tablet.
Sign up for Music Beta
If Google has done one thing to make people think twice about ditching Android for iPhone, it’s Music Beta. This is a seriously superb service that hooks users upon first use. The premise is simple: upload your entire music library to Google, for free, and then access it on your Android phone or tablet. How can you go wrong?
The interface works much as you might expect. You can stream music over a WiFi or cellular connection, which works well enough. If you won’t have a connection at some point, or if you just want a collection stored locally, you can make songs, playlists, and albums available for use offline. (It’s recommended that you do this over WiFi.) There’s no need to buy anything. You just upload and you’re done. How can you leave Android after having this put in front of you?
You do have to sign up and wait for an invite, but Google has become pretty quick with that process. Sign up for Google Music Beta .
Install Wizz Bar
Samsung prides itself on its TouchWiz UX interface. While Android purists despise this kind of skinning, it does present a number of benefits. One of them is a nifty tray on the bottom of the screen that contains a number of quick buttons. It’s akin to — and Android fans will kill me for this — the bottom bar on the iPad. It’s better, though, because it’s hideable. In any case, the only issue with it is that you can’t control which apps it displays. That is, unless you’ve download Wizz Bar.
Wizz Bar actually benefits non-Samsung users the most, since they have no version of the app tray. With this app they not only get a tray, but a customizable one. Samsung users benefit plenty, too, since they can replace the existing static bar with one that features their favorite apps. This makes navigating your Android tablet a ton easier. it also means you can keep icons off the home screen, leaving it free for wallpaper viewing or, even better, a ton of useful widgets. Get Wizz Bar for free.
Start using Augmented Reality
If you’re unfamiliar with Augmented Reality, you’re really missing out. It’s some wonderful software that takes advantage of your device’s camera to add context to, well, everything. You just point your camera at something, and a dedicated app scans it for any Augmented Reality data. It can be anything really: stores, restaurants (even menus!), magazines, albums, groceries, and more. You just point your camera, and Augmented Reality gives you the feedback.
While this has mostly been implemented on phones, there’s plenty of potential for Augmented Reality on tablets. If you bought a Samsung tablet, chances are you have Layar pre-installed. That will come in handy. If you have another brand of tablet, you can easily install it for free. With it you can just point your tablet in a direction and see what lies beyond. It’s absolutely wonderful for city wandering, as you can find point of interest in just a snap.
The beauty of Augmented Reality is that we haven’t begun to scratch the surface of its possibilities. But you can get a glimpse of the future, now. Download Layar for free. Google also has its own AR app, Google Googles, which you can download here.