A close friend who hasn’t ever owned a smartphone just got a Nexus 7 tablet, with the intention of reading books and papers, writing without lugging a laptop, and enjoying the occasional TV show. Since I often get questions about which apps to load on new devices, I figured that perhaps a blog post is in order. Let’s get right to it, shall we?

  • Reading ebooks, PDFs: Fabrik
    Supports PDF/epub/mobi files and can access books stored locally or in the cloud (Dropbox/Google Drive). Free and ad-free, just the way I like ’em.
  • Accessing/uploading files to your device: AirDroid
    Run the app on your device, set a password, launch the AirDroid page on your browser, enter password, and get access to your device’s apps, files, photos and clipboard. If you’ve got a camera, you can login by scanning a QR code on your PC screen.
  • Watching videos: MX Player
    Supports a ton of formats, auto-detects videos on your device, displays subtitles and has a screen lock.
  • Reading web content offline: Pocket
    I’d pay a lot of money to use Pocket if it were a paid app — it’s saved me from boredom at more meetings and conference calls than I count, while letting me get through my reading list. Go here, sign up and get the extension for Chrome (it adds a grey button to the right of the address bar), and click on the button in your browser whenever you come across an article you want to read later. Pocket instantly downloads it to your WiFi-enabled device so you can read it later.
  • Taking notes: Evernote
    This should come pre-installed on every computing doohickey there is. Sign up for a free account, create notebooks and add notes with whatever you like – text, images, PDFs, and even web pages. Evernote also has a companion Chrome extension to clip stuff and save into your notebooks. The catch: offline access = $45/year. That’s why I also recommend Jotterpad X — simply copy and paste your active document in there and write away to glory.
  • Recording voice notes: Easy Voice Recorder
    Sometimes I don’t feel like writing, but I still need to get stuff done. Other times, I’ll have to record a talk, or do an interview. Easy Voice Recorder is for all those times. Records in high-quality WAV format so you don’t have to listen to buzz and static.
  • Creating to-do lists: Wunderlist
    How anyone gets things done without a to-do list is beyond me. Don’t be one of those people. Use Wunderlist. It’s free, allows you to create multiple lists and add notes and reminders.

That’s a wrap, folks. With these quality free apps on your device, you should feel a sense of empowerment, wonder and confidence. None of those are guaranteed, but at the very least, you should be able to get some work done. Stay tuned for more app roundups.