Motorola Xoom Review: Android Market (part 2)

The Motorola Xoom is the first Android tablet to seriously challenge the iPad. The hardware is pretty solid, but what about the apps? Unfortunately, there just isn’t much to talk about since there are only 16 Android apps available in the Android Market. The number’s sure to grow as more Android tablets are sold, but it’s a shame that the entire selection of Android tablet apps currently fits on a single page.

The good news is that the apps that are there are of high quality. Gun Bros. is a shooting adventure game that plays very smoothly on the Xoom.  There’s also Pulse, a news reader app. Besides those there’s a handful of free and handful of paid apps, a tiny, tiny fraction of the number of apps available for the iPad.

The CNN app for Android tables is reminiscent of the CNN Chrome app. You can browse through tiles rather than scrolling up and down web pages. Text goes on the left of story pages and multimedia goes on the right. There’s a quick button to access live video and hourly audio news updates. There’s also a tool for submitting iReports, which ties into the Xoom’s built-in cameras.

The YouTube app comes with the Xoom, but it’s a clear example of how smooth and rich apps can be on the Xoom and other Android tablets…if anyone would get off their rear and start developing them.

The Motorola Xoom is a pretty slick device, but as I pointed out in part one of our Xoom review, it’s not quite ready for prime time. Flash, 4G LTE and MicroSD are all features we heard about when the Xoom was launched, but none of them are ready as of today. Add those issues to the lack of tablet-specific apps in the Android market and the Xoom isn’t quite ready for mass consumer consumption. The lack of tablet apps won’t keep Geeks who are willing to deal with tech hiccups and are used to the curse of being early adopters from buying the Xoom.

As we’ve mentioned before, Android phone users buy far fewer apps than iPhone users. If this pattern holds true, I’m worried that it’ll take much too long for the Android Market’s tablet app category to grow to a respectable size.

Yes, Angry Birds is present, but that’s only going to carry the Android Market so far.