If you got a new 7-inch Nexus 7 tablet for the holidays, you’re in for a treat as you now are in possession of an extremely useful tool for things like reading, gaming and video watching. If you don’t know what to do after you get the Nexus 7 out of the box, we’re here to show you how to set up your new tablet and get it ready to go for the days to come.
Here, we’ll walk you through setting up the Nexus 7 and tell you how to turning on security and parental controls, offer some tips on using the Nexus 7 and show you some apps that will help get you started.
The Nexus 7 set up process should only take 15 to 30 minutes, so those that are fortunate enough to have received the Nexus 7 will be able get it set up and ready to go before traveling this holiday season.
In addition to setting up the Nexus 7, we suggest taking a look at some of the great Nexus 7 cases out there to help protect your new device. Some of them will even act as a stand for the tablet which will ensure a fantastic video watching experience with an app like Netflix or content found through the Google Play Store.
When you turn your Nexus 7 on for the first time, the device will take you to a Welcome screen where you’ll want to change to your language of choice. This is an option that you can change later but unless you’re master of several languages, you’ll just want to choose a default one right off the bat.
The device will then ask you for Google account information. If you already have a Gmail account, you’ll simply want to enter in your information. If you don’t have an account, this is a great time to set one up.
The Nexus 7 will ask if you want to backup your device to Google’s servers. We highly recommend this as it will make restoring app data, bookmarks, WiFi passwords, and other settings to the Nexus 7 easier if you reset it or switch to a new device down the road.
Next, it will ask if you want to enable Location Services. By turning it on, it will enable Google Location Services and Standalone GPS Services to let the Nexus 7 deliver location-based results for Google Now and for Google searches.
Finally, you’ll want to connect to a Wi-Fi network. Connect to a WiFi network when prompted and the device will scan for your home network. At that point, simply enter the password, if you have one, and the device will be Wi-Fi-enabled.
Now is a fantastic time to take some steps to protect your Nexus 7 tablet. This way, others won’t be able to use your personal information or the apps and content that you’ve downloaded to your tablet device.
With Android, Google gives you several options that will allow you to protect your Nexus 7 and your data from harm. In order to change security settings, you’ll want to head into the Nexus 7′s Settings, scroll down and tap Security under the Personal section. Here, you’ll be presented with five possible security options to protect your device from others.
Slide provides no security and allows users to simply slide to unlock. The second is Face Unlock which allows you to unlock the phone with your face. It’s not a fool-proof system though so we don’t recommend it. The other three options are the recommended.
The first, pattern, allows you to set up a swiping pattern to protect your device. You will have to connect at least four dots and once that’s done, you’ll repeat the pattern and the device will be locked and will only be able to be opened by using that pattern.
We list five important reasons why you should want Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) on your next phone or tablet. If your phone manufacturer is doing its job, you may not have to wait long, either.
It has been seven months since the release of the release of Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), the operating system that is supposed to unify all devices running Android, whether they be phones or tablets. Android 4.0 is great — we love it — so why is it installed on only 4.9 percent of Android devices? We are finally starting to see non-Nexus devices being released with the frosty treat, and ever so slowly older handsets are getting updated. It is easy to say that there is a nearly endless list of great new features on ICS, but in reality, most of these new additions won’t be used by the majority of Android users. So if your phone or tablet is getting updated from Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) or Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) to Ice Cream Sandwich in the near future, we’ve rounded up five reasons why you should want Android 4.0.
One of the strong points of the Android operating system has always been its multitasking capabilities, but one of the real weaknesses of previous versions was that you couldn’t see which apps are running, nor could you easily close those apps without digging through the Settings menu. ICS has changed this; not only is it easy, it is also extremely satisfying. There are only three navigation buttons on Android 4.0 devices: Back, Home, and Applications. When you press the Applications button you will be presented with a visual list of all the apps currently running on your phone. With a simple swipe of your finger, you can close each app. There is a real sense of accomplishment when you whittle away running apps using your Fruit Ninja swiping skills. (Though sadly, there are no sound effects like in Fruit Ninja.) Besides being fun, the benefit of closing unused apps is that you can really save battery life, so it is always a good idea to check what you have running. If an app is acting up, closing it and restarting it through this method can also save you some grief.
It is unbelievable how much the camera app has changed from Android 2.3 to 4.0. Even with exactly the same hardware, it is as if you have a brand new camera. You can take pictures instantaneously, with absolutely no shutter lag no matter how slow your previous camera operated. No longer do you have to wait for the exact perfect moment to take your picture; you can just continuously press the shutter button until you get the shot you want. This is also a great way to impress friends who have iPhones, or have yet to upgrade to ICS.
Technically, the notification system on ICS hasn’t changed much from previous versions of Android. How you manage your notifications is where Android 4.0 really shines. Now you are able to view your list of notifications and simply swipe away any that you want to ignore, or are unimportant. Granted it wasn’t too difficult to press the little X on the right side of each notification in previous versions of Android, but there is just something visceral about swiping away notifications. If you have never tried it, find someone who has an ICS device and ask to try it, you will never want to go back to clicking away notifications. Swiping is better than tapping.
One of the big challenges Google is facing with making an interface is making sure that applications designed for phones can work properly on tablets while still looking good. There still aren’t many apps that are fully 4.0 compatible, but the few that are available look and feel great. Google is also taking a cue from Apple and has issued a style guide for ICS apps in hopes that future apps will share a similar look feel. As the library of ICS-specific apps increases, this feature will only become more and more beneficial.
Chrome Browser is an example of one of the unified applications we just talked about. Google’s Chrome browser is in beta and doesn’t come pre-installed on any device, but it can only be installed on devices with Android 4.0 — and only devices with 4.0. Personally, we haven’t really had any issues with default Android browser; it got the job done and didn’t get in the way. Chrome, on the other hand, is the best mobile browser we’ve used. Unlike the other mobile browsers we’ve used, it is able to handle multiple tabs flawlessly. You can view your open tabs visually like cover flow, and swipe to remove tabs that you no longer need. Chrome the first app you should download when you get ICS.
The actual list of improvements packaged inside of ICS is quite extensive, but most of the benefits will go unnoticed by the average consumer. Some highly anticipated features like Face Unlock and Android Beam have been big letdowns functionally, but are still neat gimmicks to show off to your friends. Hopefully your device is scheduled to be updated in the not so distant future so you can enjoy some of these features. If you are currently using Ice Cream Sandwich and your favorite feature was left off this list, let us know.
(Awesome header image via TechnoBuffalo)
Android may require a little effort to learn and set up, but you get a tangible return on that investment: A properly configured Android phone can get you the stuff you want faster and with less work than any other mobile operating system.
These tips will get you started exploring. Don’t stop! Once you’re comfortable with the basics, customizing your phone is actually kind of fun. Many of us fell in love with technology because the process of mastering it brought with it a sense of accomplishment. And once you get an Android phone tailored to your needs, you just might realize you don’t want something that’s all set up right out of the box—because nothing beats a custom fit.
• Most of you will be guided through the set-up process the first time you hit the power button. Don’t skip it. Especially not the part where you add your Google account. If you missed it in the setup, just go to Settings Accounts Sync. Then decide what stuff you want to sync. I sync everything with my personal Google account, and then for my work account I just sync Gmail, Calendar, Contacts, and Docs.
• Once you’re at the main screen, check out that little bar at the top; that’s your notification window. Drag it down and you can see all of your incoming notifications (text messages, emails, calendar appointments, etc). If your phone is running Android 4.0 (aka Ice Cream Sandwich) or later, you can dismiss individual notifications by swiping them off with your finger.
• The app drawer is at the bottom of your screen. Tap it, and behold the icons for every app on your phone. That’s essentially what the iOS home screen is (just a bunch of apps). Android goes a different direction, borrowing the desktop metaphor from computers. So you have a desktop you can organize and customize, and you have an app drawer where you can see everything.
• Settings. There’s a gear-shaped icon in your app drawer, but there are shortcuts. In phones runnings Android 4.0 or higher you can find your settings in the notification window. Just drag it down and click Settings to open it up. If you’re using Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) or lower, from the desktop, you just hit your menu button, and then select Settings.
• How the hell do you get to the menu within apps? Within most apps in Android 4.0 the menu button looks like three vertical dots. Why do three dots represent a menu? I have no idea, but it does. In Android 2.3 and below, use the physical menu button.
You see all of those icons and widgets that came pre-placed on your desktop? Get rid of them. They’re mostly carrier or manufacturer junk, and it’s better to start with a clean slate. To banish something you don’t want, long-press it, then drag it to Remove (that doesn’t uninstall the app, it just takes the shortcut off your desktop). If you see something that you love and you know you want to keep, drag it over to a screen off to the side for now.
So after you’ve set up your Google account, open up the Play Store (the Android Market) at least once and sign in (it’s in your app drawer, looks like a grocery bag with a dumb triangular icon on it). After that, you should be able to install everything through the Play tab on your computer’s web browser (it’s in that black bar at the top of Gmail, etc). This makes browsing through apps and installing them stupid easy. You just click Install and you’re done—the app will automatically install on your phone over the air. You can also just click these links on your phone, or browse through the Play Store on your phone, but it’s way easier this way.
One thing first. In the Play Store app on your phone, hit Menu (the three dots) Settings, and scroll down to “Auto-add widgets.” You want to UNcheck that, otherwise your pristine desktop is going to get mighty cluttered.
Okay, here are some apps to get you started. Clicking them will take you to their Play Store page where you can just click Install:
• Keyboards. In most cases you’re going to want to install a replacement keyboard. There are tons of options, and there’s probably a perfect one for you, depending on what you like. If you’re coming from iOS (or have iPhone envy) check out iTap (paid/free). Sliding keyboards (like Swype) are a super popular, where you drag your finger between letters. If you don’t have Swype pre-installed on your phone, try SlideIT. Personally, I really like SwiftKey X with its spookily good text prediction, but some whom I’ve recommended it to hate it. (No accounting for taste.) There are dozens of others you can play with.
• While there are some benefits to using the stock text messaging app, Handcent SMS is a replacement app for text messaging that is vastly more customizable. You can enable popups for messages and even assign different notification tones for different contacts. If you use it, make sure you make it your default messaging app and turn off notifications in the stock app, otherwise you’ll get double notifications. Alternatively, if you’ve made the switch to Google Voice, it can completely replace your text and voice message apps.
• Other stuff we like. Dropbox, Evernote, Kindle, Yelp, Google Reader, Spotify, Netflix, and so on. If you’ve heard of an app, it’s very likely in the Play Store. Just browse around, pay attention to ratings, and experiment. (Oh, not neccessarily neccessary, but check out Samurai II: Vengeance. That game is so damn fun.)
Yes, it’s a dumb name, but widgets are worth it: They put a live information and instant controls right on your homescreen. Want to see your upcoming appointments? Try CalWidget. Everyone should have an LED flashlight widget on their desktop (turn it on/off right from the home screen). For the current weather (in your city or another), check out The Weather Channel. Install the Power Control and Music widgets (that come preloaded in Android). Keep up on your social media with the Twitter or Foursquare widgets. Why do these things? Because you can control your music, turn on/off Wi-Fi, adjust your screen’s brightness, see your next appointment, turn on your LED flashlight, all without even having to open an app. You can do these things with a single touch, swipe, or just a glance to your desktop. It’s incredibly convenient. Many widgets are resizable and scrollable. Do not fear the widget.
Once you’ve installed a bunch of stuff, take like 10 mins and organize your homescreen. Think of it as your actual desk. If you just pile everything on there randomly, it’s going to be messy and it will only cause you frustration. But if you place things deliberately, so you know where everything lives, you can get to what you want without even thinking about it. You only have to do this once (and you can always tweak at will).
To move apps to the desktop, just open the app drawer, long-press the app, and then drag it to the home screen. Dragging one app onto another creates a folder (which you can then label, if you want). In stock Android 4.0, widgets are installed through the app drawer—just click on the widgets tab and drag the one you want to the desktop. In Android 2.3, and some skinned versions (like HTC Sense 4.0) add widgets by long-pressing on the homescreen.
Put the stuff you will use most often right up front on the center home screen. Things you’ll use often on the screens just to the right and left. On one of my screens there’s nothing but shortcuts to my “favorite” contacts (which I marked with a star) and my Power Control widget. On another, there are folders labeled “Social Apps,” “Games,” and a bunch of other semi-frequently used stuff. Your resulting home screen might look something like this one. Is it pristine and beautiful? No. Is it highly functional and easy to use? Yes. Take the time to make your homescreen yours. You’ll be happy you did.
Put some tunes on there. Either mount it to your computer via USB and drag some music over, or give Google Music a shot. Get the uploader on your desktop and upload a bunch of your music folders or your whole iTunes library. You get to store something like 20,000 songs free. Import some pictures and videos too, while you’re at it. If you’re using Android 3.0 or higher and you are a Mac user, download the Android File Transfer utility. That may make transfering files via USB a little easier.
• If you’re running Android 4.0 or above, set up Face Unlock. It’s kind of a gimmicky, but it’s fun and it saves time (usually). Settings Security Screen lock Face Unlock. Once you’ve set it up do the “Improve face matching” thing a few times at different angles (especially from a bit lower, because we usually look down on our phones) and in different light. It works pretty well.
• You probably don’t want your phone to ring every time you get a freaking email. To turn off the sounds for email, open Gmail and go to Settings (your email account) Ringtone vibrate. then set it to silent. You’ll have to do that on each of your accounts separately, which is annoying, but I guess some people have important email accounts and unimportant ones (you can also set it so certain labels will ring—handy when you have an email-happy boss).
• Not only can you use any MP3 you have saved on your phone as your default ringtone, but did you know you can assign specific ringtones to specific contacts? You’ll know your BFF is calling without even having to look at your phone. The easiest way to do it is with a free app called Ringtone Maker. It lets you set the in/out points of a song if you want, built in fades, and assign it to specific contacts if you want. Super easy.
• Voice commands. Siri isn’t the only game in town, in fact, as we’ve shown, in some ways Android’s voice actions are superior to their iOS sister’s. In Android 2.3 and below you can long-press the search button to activate voice actions, which was a very nice feature and is sadly absent in the newest versions. In Android 4.0 you’ll have to use the Google Search bar on your desktop. Just tap the mic and make your demands. Android is also very good at taking dictation. Whenever you’re entering text, look for the mic icon on your keyboard to use the built in speech-to-text features.
There are tons and tons of other tips and tricks. Do you have some favorites that you love to tell new Android users? Shout them out in the comments. We may even add it to our list if its good enough. In the meantime, have fun getting to know your new exobrain.
Article source: http://gizmodo.com/5909262/how-to-use-android
Samsung Galaxy S II handsets not tied to a specific carrier no longer have to wait for their Android 4.0 upgrade. According to a tweet from Samsung’s UK Twitter account, unlocked Galaxy S II phones can now download and install the software, known as Ice Cream Sandwich. Orange and T-Mobile customers with a Galaxy S II in Europe remain on Android 2.3, but Samsung says these will “follow as soon as possible.”
SlashGear caught the tweet and notes that the Android 4.0 upgrade can be found through Samsung’s Kies software. Here in the U.S., carriers typically push the software over the air after they’ve tested and tweaked the platform. For that reason some people purchase unlocked handsets, with the reasonable thought that these would be among the first to see updates. Unfortunately, with the Galaxy S II that hasn’t been the case as some carrier models already received Android 4.0.
Along with the updated Google Android software, Samsung has added a Face Unlock feature; similar to that found on stock Android 4.0 devices, such as the Galaxy Nexus. Also included is Samsung’s latest TouchWiz user interface to correspond with Google’s own software updates. It appears that Samsung is pushing the updates out ahead of a May 3 product launch event; likely to be the Galaxy S III.
Related research and analysis from GigaOM Pro:
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Say hello to the ATT 4G LTE Galaxy Note running on Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich. The official ATT build was leaked late last night and we decided to give it a run on our own phablet. This 5.3″ Super AMOLED packing smartphone running on ICS is awesome. While we don’t have everything Samsung has planned in this build, everything runs pretty rock solid and you can see for yourself in our video after the break.
This is an official build of Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich for the ATT 4G LTE Galaxy Note, this will not work with the HSPA+ international version. More details for downloading yourself will be available below. So far for just a leaked build everything is extremely impressive. Other than a force close at first boot, everything’s ran smooth as butter. Obviously the Samsung TouchWiz UX changes make ICS not as visible, but you can definetaly tell and feel the difference.
While this doesn’t have the Samsung Suite of new apps that are supposed to benefit the S-Pen stylus it does have some new widgets, Samsung Planner was renamed “calender” as that makes more sense, and we have 5-6 brand new widgets that take full advantage of the 5.3″ screen. Those are all on top of the other new features in Ice Cream Sandwich.
Thanks to the folks over at RootzWiki we were able to give this a full video hands-on rundown, and we love it. The Note might not be for you because of the size, but if that doesn’t bother you it looks even more attractive with ICS. Everything appears to be working here. That includes Face Unlock as you saw above, camera, front camera, 4G LTE, browser, audio, voice and video calls and more. This seems as complete as ever and a fully stable and operational build of Ice Cream Sandwich. What we call a daily driver.
The camera works great and face unlock is extremely quick for those interested in that gimmick security feature. As you can see from the screenshot in the gallery below ATT 4G LTE seems to be plenty fast with this latest leak. Getting speeds upwards of 20 MB/s here in Vegas. As far as general performance you can see from the video below yourself just how smooth and quick it runs. It took Samsung a few months to iron everything out, optimize the S-Pen and larger widgets for ICS, and it appears they’ve delivered on a pretty solid build.
The official Android 4.0 ICS for the ATT Galaxy Note isn’t rolling out yet to users but it’s still on track for Q2, so we should be seeing it shortly. If you like what you see above or are just anxious to get the tasty frozen ICS on your own phablet then here is how.
Head to RootzWiki for the download here
-Download the file to a Windows PC (Windows only for now)
-Plug in the note and install USB drivers
-Power off and boot to flash mode (Volume down+power) then confirm with volume up
-Run the RootzWiki one-click flash and let it finish.
You’ll then be on Android 4.0.3 ICS and enjoying all the goodness it brings on all 5.3″ of AMOLED beauty on the Galaxy Note. Here are a few more pics and screenshots, then let us know what you think if you try this yourself.