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Oh My Tech!: Must-have apps for your new tablet

Published December 27, 2012 9:31 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

I feel your joy.

You opened up your holiday presents and found that someone loves you enough to get you a computer tablet. It was enough to warm your eggnog.

But you're a newbie to technology, and you want to take that shiny new iPad or Kindle Fire out for a real spin. What do you do? There are hundreds of thousands of apps to put on devices. But which ones? Where do you start?

Here's a brief list of must-have apps for the iPad and Android tablets that will add a lot of value to your new toy. They can be downloaded either through Apple's iTunes App Store for the iPad or Google Play for Android. Then you can give that loved one a great big hug.

Zite and Flipboard • Computer tablets are information slates. They can beam any kind of news to you in seconds. Try these two valuable and free news aggregate apps because they don't just gather news, they allow users to chose only the topics that interest them (mine are "Star Trek" and "video games," which is a horrifying peek into my psyche). And they arrange them in a beautiful layout similar to a magazine. These apps and what they do are why computer tablets were invented.

Netflix • Subscribers to this streaming video service know how valuable it is when they can watch "Breaking Bad" whenever they want and wherever they are. For just eight bucks a month, you have unlimited access to thousands of movies and television shows to stream to your tablet, phone or laptop. With this free app, you can choose what to watch and just start it up with the press of the screen. "The Walking Dead" on the go? Yes, please.

Skype • Talking on the phone is so 20th century. With this free video conferencing app, we're talkin' communication in the era of "The Jetsons." Once you install it, tell all your relatives and friends who live out of state to get themselves hooked up, and start communicating with a video phone — and it's all free! Take that CenturyLink!

YouTube • You want to know what's also soooo 20th century? Watching TV. All the kids are watching shows on YouTube. In fact, most people are listening to their music through the popular video streaming service, not on the radio. Google, which owns YouTube, has finally put out a native YouTube app for the iPad that's intuitive (it's also available for Android, of course).

Pandora • This free music app is a great way to listen to only the type of music you prefer. You like The Beatles? Set up a music station that not only plays their music but also songs from other artists that sound similar. Then you can create a whole slew of stations based on just your musical tastes.

Slashtop Remote • Crap! You're out of the house and you desperately need that document you left on your home PC. How do you get at it? With this $4.99 app, you can remotely access your desktop computer through your computer tablet. Launch it and you can perform all the functions of that PC remotely from your tablet.

Plants vs. Zombies • All fun and no play make . . . well, you know the drill. What's the point of having a computer tablet if you can't play games on it. One of the greatest casual games ever made is this hilarious take on the "tower defense" game in which a garden full of plants takes on an army of zombies. It's was perfectly designed for the touchscreens on tablets, and it's liable to suck all your precious time away. You've been warned.

If you have a tech question for Vince, email him at ohmytech@sltrib.com, and he'll try to answer it for his column in The Salt Lake Tribune or on its website. For an archive of past columns, go to http://www.sltrib.com/topics/ohmytech.