We're cheating a bit here, as Google Now isn't available as a standalone app. But any device running Android 4.1 or higher gets the next generation of Google search, known as Google Now.
In many ways, Google Now surpasses iOS' Siri. It skips the spunky personality, and simply delivers relevant information.
Play Store: N/A
OneLouder Apps released the most beautiful weather app for Android this year, called 1Weather. It gives you all the weather info you'd need with an attractive design that we'd like to see more of on Android.
If you want to fully appreciate the gorgeous app, you can pay an extra US$1.99 for the Pro version.
Play Store: 1Weather (free)
OnLive Desktop gives your Android tablet a touch-friendly, cloud version of Microsoft Windows. The only catch is that you'll need a persistent internet connection.
The free OnLive Desktop account offers basic Windows access, including Office and Adobe Reader. The premium Desktop Plus adds Internet Explorer (including Flash) at Gigabit speeds for US$4.99 per month.
Play Store: OnLive Desktop (free)
Instapaper, Pocket, and Readability let you store news articles to read later. They're more than bookmark services, though, as they present articles in clean, text-and-image only views.
All three offer nearly identical feature sets, so you may want to experiment to find your favorite. No tablet is complete without one of them.
Play Store: Instapaper ($2.99), Pocket (free), Readability (free)
Firefox's Android browser stayed in beta for years, and lagged far behind its competition. That changed this year when Mozilla released Firefox for Android. It emphasizes speed, an overhauled user interface, and customizable add-ons. It even adds an Instapaper-like "Reader mode," that de-clutters articles for simple viewing.
Play Store: Firefox for Android (free)
Magisto is the lazy person's video editing app. Add video clips, and Magisto will analyze and compile them into a movie, complete with soundtrack. It even lowers the music volume when people are speaking. It isn't perfect, but it's as artistic as a computer can be right now.
Play Store: Magisto (free)
Swiftkey has been one of Android's best keyboards for years, but 2012 saw the release of Swiftkey 3. It marks a big step forward, with better error correction and "Smart Space," which inserts missing spaces in blocks of text.
Also keep an eye out for the upcoming Swiftkey Flow, a Swype-like trace keyboard with Swiftkey's predictive text.
Play Store: Swiftkey 3 ($1.99), Swiftkey 3 Tablet ($1.99)