Android 3.0 is set to explode. While the Motorola Xoom is off to a slow start - according to some analyst projections - the new OS will appear on several new tablets, including the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and new models from Asus and Acer.

As Android has shown on the smartphone platform, it is possible to dethrone Apple by sheer numbers, now that there are more Android handsets in use than iPhones.

Will Android 3.0 usurp the mighty iPad and iPad 2? That all depends on the app. Here are the current top picks of a relatively small group of Android 3.0 apps (about 60 available currently).

(Note: Our list does not include apps included on the tablet already. These are the apps, listed in order starting with the ones we recommend downloading first.)

1. Pulse

Pulse deserves a place of honour on your home screen for one reason: it aggregates the web. The idea is to showing top stories from around the web, but each one shows a quick thumbnail. When you click, you can read just the basic story and view photos without the usual clutter. It's also easy to share links.

Pulse

2. Google Earth

Google Earth is free, like most Google apps, but worth the download on the Xoom because of how quickly it works on the Tegra processor. In our tests, zooming into a London street corner, the app worked smoother than anything we've seen on the iPad for mapping software. You can plan routes as well, see topographical info, and search for landmarks all over the world.

Google earth

3. Google Sky Map

One of those rare apps that makes people gasp when they first use it, Sky Map shows star constellations in real-time as you move your tablet around the night sky. You can zoom in and choose to hide some objects, such as planets, to make it easier to find what you want.

Google sky map

4. Google Body

Google Body lives up to the Google mission statement: you can find anything, even your femur. The interface for looking at the human body is very intuitive - you can zoom in on any body part, view just a skeleton or muscles, and search for body parts, muscles, bones, or just about any part of our anatomy.

Google body

5. Kindle

When we picked the top Android apps many eons ago, Kindle was a top contender. On Android 3.0, it is less compelling, since the Google Books app works quite well. However, any books you have previously purchased from the Kindle Store appear here automatically.

Kindle

6. Angry Birds Rio

A game based on the movie, Angry Birds Rio is not only addictive, it's also free. On each level, the goal is to rescue the birds Blu and Jewel, featured in the film. The game mechanics are the same as the original, minus the pigs: you pull a rubber band back and launch a bird to knock down buildings.

Angry birds rio

7. Double Twist

Double Twist does not add any new twist to music playback on the Xoom. What it does provide is a desktop app that can sync all of your music, videos, photos, and podcasts. The Xoom version is obviously a re-formatting of the smartphone version, but when you okay a song the album cover appears in HD and the controls for advancing through tracks are easy to find and use on the larger screen.

Double twist

8. Adobe Connect Mobile

For those who already use Adobe Connect, the mobile version for Xoom is a must-download. For the rest of us, this screen-sharing and webconferencing system works well on a tablet because you can instant chat with colleagues, share your screen, and host meetings. Unfortunately, the webcam did not work with the Xoom version (it did work on a BlackBerry PlayBook).

Adobe connect mobile

9. FlightTrack (£3.07)

One of the few paid apps on our list, FlightTrack is a top pick because it allows you to check flight departures and arrivals quickly, see an icon of your plane during flight, and check for flight changes. The interface is also robust: you can search for flights at 4,000 airports and for 1,400 airlines.

FlightTrack

10. Air Attack HD (£1.79)

Second only to Angry Birds in terms of compelling gameplay and rich graphics, Air Attack HD is a scrolling shooter with detailed maps and plenty of gameplay twists. You can control one of two classic planes. On the Xoom, the HD version looks amazing and runs smoothly. Some levels have destructible bridges, and wait for the end of each level for massive boss battles.

Air attack hd

11. BackBreaker THD (£3.07)

This American football game shows how the Xoom hardware can be used for a real arcade game. The graphics look crisp and colorful as you control a running back who has to make his way to the touchdown zone. Stadiums look great, and the juke moves are varied and realistic.

BackBreaker thd

12. Androidify

Androidify has no practical function, but that doesn't mean it's useless. You can customize the green Droid character with crazy hair and paints, then share your creation on multiple services, including Picasa and Dropbox, attach the image to any contact, store in your Gallery, or send by email.

Androidify

13. Dropbox

Some businesses say they could not operate as smoothly without Dropbox. The reason: the app lets you share just about anything in a common portal that's accessible from anywhere. On Android 3.0, the app is one of the best ways to send images, video, and documents to the device.

Dropbox

14. DocsToGo

The free version of this app is a must-download if you routinely need to view Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other Office documents. You can't edit docs, and the free version does not work with Google Docs, but you can open files from the local storage on your tablet.

DocsToGo

15. SoundHound

The main reason we like SoundHound is because it actually works. A music recognition engine, the app will "listen" to recorded music and tell you the artist name, track, and album. We identified about a dozen songs accurately. The app is not as good at recognizing a song you hum or whistle, though.

SoundHound