By McKinley Noble | 12-25-2012 | 12:00AM

At the moment you get any new Android tablet or smartphone, there's always that excited rush to fill up the device with as many good apps as possible. But with all the free content available on Google Play, it can sometimes be hard to know what to download first.

To help out all the new members of the Android community, we've narrowed down 10 essential apps that should be the first ones you download in order to watch movies, stay in touch with friends, and stay updated on the latest news. Granted, anything from Google themselves is must-have mobile software, but these other tools are the best third-party apps you'll want next.


 

Google Drive

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Out of all Google's apps, the least apparent one you can get a lot of mileage out of is Google Drive. If you're the type of person who makes extensive use out of Google Docs for word processing, spreadsheets, PowerPoint, and other parts of the service, this is hands-down the best way to keep everything in-sync when you need to look at something on the run.

 

Netflix

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Netflix on Android is a brilliant two-fold app that actually works well both with your TV set and independently as its own viewer. Although you can watch movies and shows with the app on just about any tablet or other mobile device, it's doubly handy as a remote app that lets you queue up content and manage your profile while simultaneously watching anything on your main monitor.

 

Facebook

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Ever since Facebook ditched the HTML5 framework for its Android app and rebuilt the whole thing from scratch, it's become one of the fastest ways to browse the network on a mobile device. It's most noticeable when loading news feeds and photos, since the app is now working off of your device's memory instead of Java, just one of a few key tweaks in the latest version.

 

Twicca

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When it comes to fully-featured Twitter apps, Twicca has the most perks, the cleanest interface, and the most customization options by a longshot. Important updates can be color-coded, notifications are unobtrusive, previewing pictures is remarkably easy, and you can even censor profane words. There's also plenty of plug-ins from the developer that can expand Twicca's capabilities, too.

 

Stitcher Radio

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Stitcher Radio is the best option for keeping track of your favorite podcasts and re-ordering past episodes, but the app now has a new Pandora-like feature that'll give you recommendations based on what you already listen to on a day-to-day basis. That's part of the new "Smart Station" feature, which takes account of anything you rate positively and negatively.

 

NVision News App

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Since our own in-house app launched earlier this year, NVision has seen nearly triple the amount of published content on a day-to-day basis, providing more news on the latest and greatest apps, movie trailers, technology buzz, and Android gadgets. Now that NVision is available for both tablets and smartphones, there's more to read, watch, and share for everyone that's got the app.

 

Dropbox

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No matter what kind of computer you're packing for your home desktop, trying to send and manage files on your tablet can be a bit of a hassle without the right tool. That's where Dropbox comes in, as the company's app can easily blaze through your Android device's file tree—and with its latest update, you can store and download entire files to and from the cloud, rather than single files.

 

Yelp

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Yelp is the best app for learning about local and major businesses from average, ordinary people, with thousands of reviews and ratings on the most unlikeliest spots. In the app's latest update, Yelp has added a "Yelp Talk" feature that opens up threads for random chatter among reviewers, along with an updated UI that makes navigating the app a bit easier than before. 

 

ESPN ScoreCenter

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ESPN's ScoreCenter app has gotten a complete facelift in its latest version, and unlike its previous iteration, it actually looks like a full Android app. Swiping actions are now a basic feature in the interface, video support has been integrated within the feeds, and a handy side menu gives access to a lot of extra content that'll help you get to your sport of choice in a snap.

 

Xbox SmartGlass

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If you're one of the tens of millions of people who own an Xbox 360, you might be interested to know that you can ditch the controller in favor of Xbox SmartGlass. Now available for Android, it's an efficient, simple way to flip between apps on the fly and access all the content on your console without having to pass a controller around. Even better, it's now supported for 7-inch tablets like the NVIDIA-powered Nexus 7.