Thursday, November 15, 2012

Dropped my Nexus 7.. twice!

Without intending to, I have tested the Nexus 7 with the 'drop test' and the saddest part is that I have done it twice! In both instances, it was a carpark with no soft landing than pure unyielding bitumen! Both times, the device was in the Poetic case that I was posting about a few weeks ago and I think if it wasn't for that case, I probably won't be keeping this blog any more!

This is when you can be happy that the Nexus7 doesn't start its active screen so close to the edge. As you can see, there is a pretty clear hairline fracture on the bottom right corner of the device. I didn't see this until I took off the Poetic case. So the question is, how is the device now? Everything seems to be working fine. There doesn't seem to be any effect on the device. However, my habits of bringing this along with me to shops to do research will now be revised. Both times, I was heading into a shopping centre when such damage was sustained.

Have you dropped your Nexus 7? Leave a comment below and perhaps a link to images of the damage sustained.The photos were taken by my Galaxy Nexus 

Controlling with a Bluetooth Keyboard

Controlling your NNexus using a bluetooth keyboard is just one of those little hacks we all enjoy having a go at even if it is just for the fun of it. Here are some shortcut keys you can remember when using your Nexus 7 with a bluetooth keyboard.

ALT+TAB+TAB = Switch between open programs like in PC
ALT+SHIFT+TAB = Go back switching between programs
Mail Button = Starts program launcher for Email
ALT+ESC = Switch to home screen

In Chrome
CTRL+F = Find
And all the other shortcuts for Chrome in your usual browser

Feel free to post more that you discover and find useful.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

How to get Jelly Bean 4.2 NOW (it works!)

Many of you especially here in Australia would have heard that the 4.2.0 update for the Nexus 7 is out but could not get the update. There is a little trick that will have you downloading the update over the air in two minutes. Just follow these instructions now! 

1. Go to Settings -> Apps -> All
2. Find Google Services Framework.
3. Tap on Force Stop.
4. Select Clear Data.
5. Head back to the Nexus 7′s Settings, go to About, and check for a System Update.
EDIT: Just installed the new update. When you reset your you may be concerned with the scren going blank. The first thing you need to do is go to Settings and change the Display, "Sleep" settings. You will notice that nothing is selected for the timeout for the screen. Choose a delay and if in doubt, I prefer to have the timeout at 1 minute. 

The keyboard now has swipe as we mentioned earlier. Does it mean faster typing. It sure does! 

The Google Now now has the automatic sensing of hotel and flight bookings however it picked up an email from the Mantra Hotels group advertising some specials and assumed that I was going to stay at the Cavill Mantra Hotel in Surfers Paradise. 

Swiping down from the top right corner where the notification bar is will give you a shortcut to do a few useful things
  • Adjust brightness
  • Go to Settings
  • Turn on / off Auto-rorate
  • Go straight to the Battery settings.
  • Turn on Aeroplane mode
Photo Spheres does not work on the Nexus7. Why would you anyway?

What have you noticed?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

MORE Google Now Cards!

I am not sure whether you noticed but Google has been hard at work making the Google Now feature on your Nexus 7 even more interesting. Here are a few Google Now cards that are already available

  • Birthday Card - On your birthday, it shows you interesting facts about your birthday. 
  • Nearby Restaurants / Concerts - If something is going down nearby you will be told
  • Upcoming Flights searched - if you happened to google a flight, it will appear as a card in Google Now. This will allow you to see which terminal the flight is arriving and whether the flight is delayed. This seems to also read your emails to find confirmation numbers for hotels and flights. 
  • Packages arriving - if you receieved a notification in your email about a package on its way, Google now brings this information to your screen straight away.
  • Statistics on your movements! This is somewhat scary. Google will track down where you have been and tell you how far you have traveled and even by what mode of transport it thinks you did this by. 
  • Updates on news articles you read - Google detects that you were reading the news on the US elections. Is there a result? It will show you a card. 
  • Stocks you watch - if you are using Google Finance, stocks that you have been monitoring will also show up on your home screen here. 
  • Whilst traveling - Google now will give you cards about what the time is at home. It will also show you the currency conversion rate for where you are at compared to your home country. It may also show you public alerts but this is something still rolling out and probably only available in the USA.
So.. are you having fun yet??

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Landscape Home Screen After 4.1.2 Jelly Bean Update

Yesterday, I received one of those pop up screens that you always love seeing. It was a notification that there was a new system update available but my battery was too low to install it. I plugged in the charger and the option to update now appeared.

The upgrade was from Jelly Bean 4.1.1 to the new Android OS 4.1.2 which gives very slight new features but the most obvious one is a landscape home screen similar to the one above. You are also now able to interact with notifications from the slide-down menu which allows you to see more details such as expanding the notification of "4 new emails". When you hold down on the notification and drag down you will be able to see the subjects of each of the emails.

Also there have been some other performance and stability improvements and nicer widgets to use on the home screen. Viewing images and deleting them is now also much easier. More details to follow but please leave a comment if you have noticed other changes resulting from the new 4.1.2 update.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Pros and Cons of Poetic Case

There are not many Nexus 7 cases available for purchase in Australia. JB Hifi has a really official and equally pathetic case put out by ASUS which costs $25 off the shelf. I had one look and left the store. 

After some extensive research on forums, I decided to make one of my rare purchases on Ebay for a Nexus 7 case. I noticed that there was a particular brand called Poetic with quite a few variants of cases and seemed to be making cases for ipads as well as Nexus 7. After some consideration and mental pacing up and down, I went for the one below which was retailing at $12.95 USD + $6.95 shipping to Australia. 

Pros for the Poetic Case

So why did I decide to get this case? First of all the existence of the smart cover technology which Google does not talk about on the official Nexus 7 pamphlets and press releases. Apparently this has to do with the similarities to the Apple Ipad feature and the current legal environment in which we find ourselves in today.

This feature allows you to open your case and the Nexus 7 will turn on automatically. Conversely, closing the case will put the tablet to sleep. This feature had me hotly anticipating the delivery of my Poetic Nexus 7 case.

Another reason for this case is the ability for it to stand up on its own as a desk clock as demonstrated below.

The Nexus 7 fits perfectly in the case with a special flap going to the back to reduce the chance of the tablet slipping out of the case. The well thought out design ensures the volume and power buttons are not inhibited, neither is the mini USB port on the bottom nor is the speaker on the back. There are pockets to carry money and cards in the case as well as a pen holder.

The magnetic cover means that the flap will not open up randomly. The material is called PU leather and feels pretty comfortable and looks quite professional. The case feels solid enough to give the tablet a little more practical mobility and makes me feel like I don't need to (figuratively) "bubble wrap" the device every time I go out. For the price of $20 delivered, cheaper than JB Hifi's case, I am very happy with it.

Cons for the Poetic Case

As with all products, it is useful to know the downsides, for which I can think of two with the Poetic Nexus 7 case. The case's thickness takes away the form factor of the original device, so you will not be able to put the tablet in your pocket or even the inside pocket of most suits.

The other con I see is that the NFC beam does not seem to penetrate the hard case. So, hope this review has helped you make a decision. Hopefully, you won't need to spend as much time as I did looking at the pros and cons of this Nexus 7 case.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Nokia SU-8W Bluetooth Keyboard Works

I recently decided to pull out a bluetooth keyboard that I got about six years ago to see if it works ok with the Nexus 7. A quick pairing of the keyboard worked and in next to no time, I was typing into my Nexus 7 using a foldable SU-8W bluetooth keyboard that has outlasted four phones that I have had. Goes to show that some technologies have a greater longevity than others!

What Apps Do You Use?

I saw this post on Whirlpool forums which showed what apps that one guy uses on his Nexus 7. There are so many apps on the app market that it is impossible to list all the good ones but it is always helpful to hear from other people what apps they have installed, keeping in mind that every person is an individual and individual preferences will vary. I'll post my apps later.

On my existing Nexus, I have one of the home screens dedicated to utilities for managing the device (which is perhaps one of the downsides of Android that one feels the need for them). No storage required with those.

The next screen has stuff like Splashtop (so if need be I can access the PC(s) from anywhere in the house), remote control apps like Media Center Remote, and Unified Remote, UPNPlay, TuneIn Radio, TV guide, YouTube Remote, TinyCam Monitor (for checking on the cams around the house), Pandora, TinyShark, Rdio, iPlayer, and SketchBook. No storage required.
Then on the next screen there's infomation apps – BBC News, Guardian News, ABC, Australian Newspapers, Australian News, Engaget, News360, News Republic, Zite, Flipboard, Channels, TED Air, Weather Australia, Weatherzone, Wikipedia, Kindle, Play Books. Again, no storage required apart from a little for any books being currently read.
Next screen – administrative stuff and utilities, such as Calendar, Contacts, Gmail, Email, Talk, OfficeSuite, Catch, Notes, Calc, Clock, Stopwatch, PocketCloud, Pocket, ConvertPad, Translate, Do It Tomorrow, Chumby Lite (!), Downloads. No significant storage required.
Lastly comes mapping type apps on the final screen – Aus Map, Latitude, Vic Traffic, Maps, Navigation, Places. Little storage required apart from any cached maps.
What apps do YOU have on your Nexus 7? 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Don't Scroll Through Times in Google Calendar

<p dir=ltr>I was wondering the other day whether there was another faster way to type in rather than scroll through the minutes when setting the time or alarm. There is a way and it is as simple as just holding down on the time and the numerical keypad appears. Try it out now.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Why you don't need a 3G Nexus 7

There has been recent rumours floating around that the Nexus 7 is about to get a sim card slot to make it a 3G (or 4G) tablet. When I bought the Nexus, I didn't really see the lack of 3G much of an issue. This is because I always have my mobile phone with me and it can easily have mobile tethering turned on.

The other reason is that WIFI is everywhere you go. Cities have free wifi, airports have free wifi, McDonalds in Australia has free wifi, your workplace surely would have wifi and of course at home. Do you really need a 3G slot? I found that most likely, having a 3G slot would mean the unnecessary temptation to get another data plan just for the tablet and then what if I decide I want to use my laptop rather than the tablet? Yeah, first world problems but my point is, there is no real need to have a 3G tablet. Wouldn't the battery will drain faster as well? Not sure. What are your thoughts? Nexus 7 with a 3G option.. is it worth another $100?

Keyboard Unresponsive Problem

Occasionally I have found a particular problem with the Nexus 7. The keyboard would be very slow in responding to any taps on the keyboard. I am not sure why this is the problem but I did find out one way to solve or at least work around this problem. All you need to do is press the power button to put the tablet to sleep and immediately turn it back on. I can't say I know why this works but perhaps a quick refresh of the processes is enough to get things back on track.

Have you also experienced this problem? There have been some people complaining about build issues with the Nexus 7 and things like the screen lifting but this has not been my experience. So over to you, how long have you had your Nexus and how has it been going?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Screenshot Shortcut for Nexus 7

This may be obvious to some but if you would like to take a photo of the current screen on your Nexus 7, press the power button and the down volume button at the same time. When you press and hold the resulting screenshot, it will give you options to share this screenshot via email / social media etc.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

7 Ways to Speak to Your Nexus 7

One of my favourite features of the Nexus 7 has to be the Google Now feature which makes the Nexus do many things at the command of your voice. I've listed a few ways you can integrate Google Now into your daily life.

1. Set my Alarm - To set your alarm, open up Google Now and press the microphone then say "set alarm for 8:30". The Nexus will then set the alarm for you.

2. Navigate to a Destination - When Google Now is told to "Navigate to Oxford University", Google Navigation will start up and start giving you directions how to get to Oxford University.

3. Play a Song - Google can also be told to "Listen to Pachobel's Canon" which will activate a search on Youtube for "Pachobel's Canon". That's pretty cool...

4. Leave Note to Self - You can also leave a note for yourself with the instruction "Note to Self" "Do not take West Ring Road" and Google will create a note on your screen for your reference later.

5. Send Text/Email - This is a little more tricky because Google can sometimes find it hard to understand names but you can actually tell Google to "Send text/sms/email to Ben" and it will look for Ben in your contacts list. Then it will wait for you to tell it what to say to Ben via email/text.

6. Go to a Website - You might wonder why someone would want to speak to Google to go to a website but for example, there are websites which tell you where the closest speed cameras are to your current location. In that situation, you may be in the car and you may tell Google to "Go to" so that you can quickly glance at the screen to see where the speed cameras are... which you wouldn't do because it is illegal to operate a phone whilst driving!

7. And finally.. Search for Anything with your Voice 
Here's an extract from Google's own helpful hints and tips for searching stuff using voice commands.

What you wantWhat to type or sayExamples
Sports information[team’s name]San Francisco Giants
PicturesPictures of [topic]
images of [topic]
Pictures of San Francisco
Images of cats
Convert measurements[original measurement] in [new measurement]30 degrees Celsius in Fahrenheit
Movie showtimesMovie
Movie [location]
[movie name]
Movie Chicago
The Horse’s Mouth
Word definitionDefine [word]Define campanile
Weather forecastWeather
Weather [location]
Weather Detroit
Identify an area codeArea code [###]Area code 215
Identify zip codeZip code [#####]Zip code 46202
Time [location]
Time in London
Flight information[Airline] [flight number]American airlines flight 390
TranslationTranslate to [language] [phrase]Translate to Spanish, Where is the Palace Hotel?’
Calculator[A math phrase]75 divided by 6
Food[Type of food]
[Type of food] in [location]
Mexican food
Mexican food in Urbana, Illinois

Why Google Now is not Responding When I say Google

I was very excited with the Google Now features that the Nexus 7 allows. However, I found that my Nexus 7 would not respond to me when I say "Google" like it is supposed to. I ignored this problem but today, I decided I had to find out how this can be fixed and this is what I found. 

Apparently, the ability to trigger a search or action by saying "Google" is called hotword detection. To turn it off or on, start from the Google Now screen and touch Menu > Settings > Voice > Hotword detection.

EDIT: Actually, hotword detection was already on for my device. The problem was that when you set your English language to any other than US English (Australian English or UK English), Google won't recognise the "Google" command! Of course, because it is an American but who knew that would be a problem!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Which Nexus7 Case?

Carrying around such a nice little tablet leads to the next issue of finding a suitable case for the Nexus7. Recently, there was a youtube post which showed why you should not get the official Nexus7 case.


The suggested alternative of a "leather" case from ebay is $10 compared to the official case sold at JB Hifi for $25 in strange colours. The problem with the ebay case is that the form factor of the Nexus 7 seems to be lost because the case makes it quite bulky in the end.

There is another case which seems to keep the size down which is currently selling for $US13.99 + shipping as shown below. Oh yeah, its very important that you get a case which has the SMART CASE function which can turn on / unlock your Nexus 7 when you open the case.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Launch Apps / Tasks using NFC

The Nexus 7 has a NFC reader which is the newest feature for smartphones and tablets. This enables two devices to communicate with each other and transfer files/contact details/apps etc just by touching each other. There is also another way you can use NFC which will change the way you look at an old smartcard.

There is a program called NFC task launcher which allows you to activate applications or tasks on your Nexus 7 just by touching a certain card or other NFC device. Try it out free from the link to Google Play Store

EDIT: Turns out that you can't use an old smart card to launch tasks etc. You need to buy NFC tags.

Does the Nexus 7 support HDMI? Keyboard? Mouse? Thumb drive?

I've been reading up on the Nexus 7 and the possibilities it beholds and apparently it used to be able to allow a person to connect the tablet to a TV via a HDMI cable and a mini-USB to HDMI converter cable! This functionality is no longer available but there seems to be some questions about whether this can be overcome with the right software. Anyone able to shed more light on this?

Also for those with a Nokia N8 before, you will remember that it had the ability not just to output to a TV screen but also connect a thumb drive to provide USB on the go. This is also not possible with the Nexus 7.

However, there is one thing that they reckon works which I haven't tried yet. Apparently you CAN connect a mouse or keyboard to the Nexus 7 via a mini-USB to USB converter and a USB keyboard/mouse. Have fun exploring the possibilities and report back what you can do with that little USB port of mine.

How Do You Get $25 Google Play?

One question I was wondering when I bought the Nexus was how do I know whether I am going to get the $25 credit from Google Play? This credit is supposed to come with the Nexus7 along with the free movie Transformers.

Do not log in using a friend's gmail account when you first turn on your Nexus7 unless you want to give them your $25 credit

When you turn on your Nexus7 and you log into your Gmail account, you will receive an email from Google welcoming you to the Nexus 7. There will also be another email sent to the same address with the following welcome message.

Nexus7 First Impressions

When I was first shown the box for the nexus tablet, I could see that ASUS was not trying to compete with Apple on packaging. I almost didn't want to buy the tablet any more! Anyway, the Nexus7 is one amazing piece of hardware! You can find specs elsewhere but here's what it feels like. The device is incredibly light and whilst it is small, it means that it is very portable.

The rubber backing on the Nexus 7 makes it much more pleasant to hold and probably halves the chance of the device sliding off an uneven surface like an ipad. By the way, how many people do you know of with a cracked ipad screen?

Once you start the Nexus 7, the screen looks very familiar to anyone with an Android phone. Actually, it looks like one big phone. There are various gestures you can use, such as the swipe up from the bottom of the screen which takes you straight to Google Now, something in itself worth posting about another time.

The device looks very refined and whilst it may seem restrictive that you need WIFI to connect to the internet, it works well with a phone that has the ability to share the internet, which most phones can do nowadays. Since you are unlikely to ever be without your phone, then connectivity is not so much of a problem.

So what did you think of the Nexus when you got it? leave a comment, even if anonymously.

The Cheapest Nexus7 in Australia?

OK I am not sure whether there will be much interest in this blog but if you have a Nexus 7, please support this by commenting, suggesting topics etc and we will try build a tips and tricks blog for the Nexus 7 tablet.

I just got my Nexus 7 last Thursday from Officeworks in Perth and they were happy to price match with I was happy if they price matched the price + delivery but they didn't mind price matching the $289.95 price without delivery. Officeworks policy is that they beat the price by 5% so the Nexus7 came down to $275.45. Did anyone get a better price than that? I had $100 gift card which I managed to get at 5% off Coles cards (which works with Officeworks) but if I had sufficient gift card credit, it could have been only $261.68 but I was happy getting it down to $270.50!

Anyway I've started playing with the Nexus 7 and it is just awesome! There is so much you can do with this and I was amazed to notice that it fits in an inner pocket of a suit. The size may look small at first but people looking to use, rather than amuse, would find that this tablet is just the right size. More later as I explore the tips and tricks for this device.

But the first tip should be about buying this tablet in Australia. Officeworks will beat any price by 5% more if you can show them a competitor's price. Stock is extremely low but some people have said that Dick Smith is expecting a large order in soon. Leave a comment if you know more..