It may be three years since Apple's first iPad landed, but 2012 was the year when tablet devices went mainstream.

Fresh competition in the form of Google's Nexus and Amazon's Kindle Fire, plus three new models from Apple, ensured there was a tablet at a size and price to suit everyone. High-street retailers were reporting sales averaging one per second in the run-up to Christmas, a tenfold increase on last year.

If you were one of the lucky ones to receive a tablet this Christmas, just one question remains: which apps should you get for it?

iPlayer (iPad/Android) – free

The BBC leads the way, showing how a TV-led tablet app should be done. Browse listings, watch live TV and access hundreds of hours of catch-up services. Now with the option to download programmes for offline viewing, the only disappointment with this app is that it doesn't work for non-BBC channels too.

Google Chrome (iPad/Android) – free

If you aren't already using Chrome as your desktop browser you probably should – it's much faster and more reliable than the alternatives from Microsoft and Mozilla. And if you are using Chrome on the desktop it makes sense to use it on your tablet too. Bookmarks, passwords and web history are all automatically synchronised across all your devices. It's even possible to see what tabs you currently have open on other computers.

Star Walk HD (iPad) – £1.99

With a database of more than 200,000 celestial bodies and an encyclopedic knowledge of the night sky, Star Walk HD is the best companion for any winter star-gazing sessions.

Remote (iPad) – free

The latest version of Apple's Remote app lets you access your entire iTunes music library and beam it wirelessly around the home to other computers or Apple TV units. Choose tracks, build playlists and control music volume in different rooms from the comfort of your armchair.

Flipboard (iPad/Android) – free

Flipboard brings together a personalised feed of news, sport, blogs, Facebook and Twitter into a single, magazine-like interface. Seeing Andy Murray's latest match report and Aunt Betty's holiday photos receive equal front-page billing can be disconcerting at first, but after you've used Flipboard for a couple of weeks it will be hard to go back to anything else.

Box (iPad/Android) – 5GB free

Getting documents on to a tablet can be troublesome, but keeping them organised when they get there is a real challenge. The Box app allows you to wirelessly share folders between your computers, phones and tablets.

Look for the updated HeraldScotland app later this year.