What you do get loaded on the A500 tries to make the tablet offer some of the functionality of a laptop, or an iPad loaded with iMovie and iWork. This includes a movie editor, Internet radio app (a 28 day trial of Aupeo!), Clear.Fi media player, a selection of eBook readers (but not the Amazon Kindle app, which must be downloaded separately), a media server (to share content wirelessly with DLNA compliant devices) and Acer Sync, to enable you to manage content via your PC.
Developers are now beginning to write apps to work better on tablets, making better use of the larger screen sizes and resolution. This means they aren’t simply scaling up apps that would normally run on a 320×480 or 480×800 pixel display. You also get tabbed views, multiple columns and split-screen views – along with smaller text sizes to fit more on.
Most of the native Google apps (Gmail, Android Market) are like this but many more apps are being released all the time, like the new IMDb app that has a unique layout for tablets (but only Honeycomb tablets, meaning anything running Android 2.x, like the HTC Flyer or Samsung Galaxy Tab will still look like it does on a smartphone). Other tablet-friendly apps include CNN, Dolphin HD and Opera Mobile.
The home screen benefits from scalable widgets, but the OS lacks features like changing colours, text size or the size of icons. Okay, you can’t do that on an iPad either, but so what? The notifications that appear at the bottom right of the screen, regardless of the screen orientation, also need to be cancelled individually – which is rather bizarre given it’s always been possible to press ‘clear’ on any other Android smartphone.
You also get a copy of Docs2Go for reading Word, Excel and Powerpoint files, but you must upgrade to the full version if you want to edit, at a cost of US$14.99 for the lot – cheaper than buying the equivalent apps for iOS individually.
One problem with the use of Acer Sync is that there’s no option to mount the tablet as a standard flash drive, which meant that there was no way to mount the Acer on a Mac to drag and drop files. A workaround is to connect a flash drive (or hard drive) with the files you want to transfer to the USB socket on the side.