The thing that makes tablets really useful is the apps. Unfortunately, there are literally millions of apps available. Fear not! I've done the research for you, and am bringing you the apps that every tablet owner needs to install. By the way, these apps are also great for your smartphone.
1. Don't lose your tablet
Sometimes your tablet or smartphone can grow legs of its own and wander off. Or, sometimes it has help from some sticky-fingered thief. Whatever the reason, Android Device Manager at bit.ly/1gHKRtB (Free; Android) or Find My iPhone at bit.ly/1mL9GMG (Free; iOS) can help you locate your lost gadget, lock it, and if worse comes to worst, you can remotely wipe your mobile gadget.
2. Manage your money
Creating and sticking to a budget is important, but time-consuming. You could spend hours slaving away over a checkbook or computer program. Simplify things with the Mint app at bit.ly/1oU5uY4 (Free; Android, iOS). It links to your bank account so you always know just how much money you have. Then you can set up spending categories with a budget for each, and in no time you'll have a real-time report on your financial health.
3. Edit your photos on the go
For simple photo editing on your gadget, try the Fotor app at bit.ly/142dUHv (Free; Android, iOS). Change the filter on the photo to achieve the best effects, customize the borders, create collages and more! And when you've got the perfect picture, you can share it with others online with the tap of a button. If you're a real shutterbug, go to bit.ly/1AFYuGj for more great photo apps.
4. Know the weather
Before you head out on your next travel adventure, grab the Weather Channel app at bit.ly/1lal5Do (Free; Android, iOS, Windows Phone). You can check the current temperature, the hourly forecast and the next 10 days of weather. You'll also get a customizable radar map, video clips, severe weather alerts and beach conditions. It's just better than your gadget's built-in weather app.
5. Be more productive
One of the standard productivity tools for home and business is Microsoft Office. Unfortunately, Office documents don't always play nice with third-party apps. That's why it was a big deal when Microsoft released Microsoft Office Mobile (Free; Android, iOS, Windows Phone). Go to bit.ly/1IrkkxJ . It lets you open, create and perform basic editing of Word, Excel and PowerPoint files no matter where you go.
6. Save hundreds instantly
You paid a lot for that new gadget, so why not use it to save as much money as possible elsewhere? The RetailMeNot app at bit.ly/1w19nvM (Free; Android, iOS) helps you find promo codes and coupons for more than 50,000 physical and online stores, including grocery stores. You can save and store coupons for later, and share the savings with your friends through social media.
7. Boost your vision
Even if you aren't a detective, a magnifying glass is still something great to have around. You never know when you'll need to read tiny print on a document, minuscule instructions in a cook book, microscopic writing on a computer part or some equally inconvenient text. You don't need an actual magnifying glass, though. Just go to bit.ly/1FodPiZ and download a magnifying glass app (Free; Android, iOS) and prepare to be amazed.
8. Find free Wi-Fi
You don't want to burn through your cellular data plan on the go. You could be on the hook for nasty overage charges. That's why using Wi-Fi whenever possible is a good idea. Fortunately, you can find free Wi-Fi no matter where you travel with the Free Wi-Fi Finder app at bit.ly/1rUhpWQ (Free; Android, iOS). Just make sure you know how to stay safe from hackers and snoops (bit.ly/1DlPAjr).
9. Keep up with friends, family
Want to stay up to date with your Facebook friends? Don't settle for trying to use the Facebook site on that small smartphone or tablet screen. Instead, load up the official Facebook app at bit.ly/1xFM93M (Free; Android, iOS). It lets you look through your News Feed, "Like" and comment on posts, post new photos, upload photos and videos, and everything else you expect to do on Facebook. If you're more of a Twitter person, don't miss the Twitter app at bit.ly/1w19Pdy (Free; Android, iOS).
10. Something fun
Your smartphone and tablet aren't just for work or helpful utilities; you need to have some fun as well. Fortunately, there are thousands of games available, and I'm sure you can find some you'll love.
From fast-paced strategy fun, two-dimensional golf and fun fruit destruction to head-scratching trivia, challenging number puzzles and essential brain training, anything goes. Browse the full list of my favorite games apps at bit.ly/1s5TkBB.
One of the biggest obstacles to travel is the language barrier. I've often wished for the universal translator from Star Trek. Amazingly, we're almost there.
The free Google Translate app (bit.ly/1DlSHYC) for iOS and Android can translate 80 languages. That covers the Americas, the Caribbean, Europe, much of Asia, major African dialects, the Middle East and even countries in the South Pacific like Indonesia.
That isn't the only app pushing us toward the world of science fiction. Go to bit.ly/1w3Xwn4 for more apps that make you say "wow" by making your phone calls secure, helping you get better sleep and more.
Kim Komando hosts the nation's largest talk radio show about consumer electronics, computers and the Internet. Hear it locally at 94.3 WSC News Radio noon-3 p.m. Sundays. For more information, go to www.komando.com. Kim also posts breaking tech news 24/7 at News.Komando.com.