Google's first tablet is here! The Nexus 7 may very well be the first real competitor to Apple's mighty iPad. It's cheap, clocking in at just $200 for the 8GB model, and it oozes 'Google magic' with every use. It blows the functionality of similarly priced competitors out of the water. The only problem? It is the very first tablet using the new Android operating system, codenamed Jelly Bean. This can make finding apps and games optimized for the device a bit tricky. We have been playing with the tablet for weeks and have taken hundreds of apps through their paces. Here are the best ones to grab the second you manage to land your hands on a Nexus 7.
Google Chrome - Free
This might seem like a no brainer, but it's really the first time Chrome has been optimized for a tablet. The results? The same light and functional browsing experience you know and love, with an added Siri-like component that works surprisingly well. In typical Google fashion, the program keeps track of everything you do with the tablet and then repurposes that info into useful widgets on the homescreen. Who knew losing your privacy could be so convenient?!
Google Currents - Free
This is another preloaded app that outpaces the competition. We tried just about every RSS reader on the marketplace and there are several competent options. At the end of the day, though, we went with Google Currents. It has the friendliest UI, the cleanest look and the most "wow factor" for your buck. That buck being, well zero, since it comes with the tablet. You can tell every inch of this app was made with the tablet in mind and it shows every time you load it up to read your favorite blogs and websites. Many RSS readers purport to turn that content into something that looks like a magazine, but Google Currents absolutely pulls it off.
Watch the News - $3
Guess what you can do with this app? Yep. Watch the news. It's a simple and easy way to keep track of current events, featuring access to just about every popular news program. Now you can know what you are talking about when you talk about things! A well-informed populace is vital to the operation of a democracy, after all. Aaron Sorkin would love this app if the Internet didn't seem to confound him.
MX Player - Free
The Nexus 7, like most Android devices, makes it really easy to transfer content to and from your PC. This makes it really convenient for all kinds of media consumption. For some reason, though, Google's preloaded media player doesn't include the ability to play several popular video formats. The big G will probably patch this oversight before too long. Until then, get on the ball by downloading MX Player. It picks up Google's slack and then some.
Flick Golf! - $1
Golfing video games allow us to experience the sport without having to invest in all of those horrible, horrible clothes. Flick Golf! looks beautiful on the Nexus 7 and its novel approach to your dad's favorite past-time will keep you entertained for hours. Basically, once you hit the ball you can still manipulate it with a series of well placed flicks. It's addictive once you get the hang of it. Don't worry. The nineteenth hole has remained untouched. Wink wink, nudge nudge.
Volume+ - $2
One of the cool things about Android devices is their ability to be hacked right out of the box. They don't have the same rigid walls that Apple devices carry. You can change anything you want, so long as there is an app for it. One thing you might want to change? The volume. Watching movies and listening to music needs a bit more oomph than the system initially provides. This handy app boosts the maximum volume so you won't miss anything.
Minecraft - Pocket Edition - $7
Minecraft could very well be the most successful indie PC game ever made. This portable edition takes the PC version and shrinks it. It's basically an entire world in your pocket. You can build anything you want and go anywhere you want. It's not just a set of virtual LEGOs. Once night falls, the game tests your survival skills by introducing menacing monsters hellbent on destroying what you've created. There is even multiplayer functionality. It's the most expensive app on this list, but its worth every penny.
GrubHub - Free
GrubHub lets you order food without having to participate in that antiquated tradition of human contact. Open up the app and with a few swipes of the finger and you'll have whatever you want, magically delivered to your home. You'll still have to answer the door though. There isn't an app for that (yet.)
Mint - Free
Managing your finances can be one of the toughest things to learn when you finally become an adult. All of those numbers and all of that paper. Who has the time?! Mint makes it doable for even the laziest and most avoidant among us. It accesses your various accounts and does the number crunching for you. All you have to do is follow its advice and not buy that large screen television when you have three bills due at the end of the month. Easier said than done but, hey, you tried.