How to make your Nexus 7 not suck

Summary:Google shipped their new 7-inch tablet with a built-in handicap. Here's how to fix it.

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So yesterday, joy of joys, my new Nexus 7 tablet arrived. I had been waiting for it patiently, like a hyperactive 8-year-old on Christmas morning, knowing full well what daddy had put in the box under the tree. 

Finally, I was going to get an Android tablet actually worth using. Nvidia Tegra 3 quad cores and snappy graphics. Supported directly by Google as a native experience device, with the latest Jelly Bean OS.

Android fanboi drool.

I unwrapped it from its case, plugged it in and powered it on. And suddenly I was greeted with the Android 4.x smartphone user interface. They gimped it.

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Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrghhhhhhhh!

WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU GOOGLE? WHY WHEN YOU ARE ABOUT TO DO SOMETHING SO SMART, YOU HAVE TO SCREW IT UP? EVERY. SINGLE. TIME?

To add insult to injury, unlike its smartphone companions in which you can orient the screen any way you want, they locked the home screen into portrait mode. Oh, and by default, all applications which can handle more than a single display mode are locked into portrait mode as well.

How stupid is that?

Now, you can turn the screen orientation lock off -- simply pull down the notification bar and to the very right of the date display, tap the little icon which looks like a lock with arrows spinning around it. It will change to a picture of a tablet/phone with arrows spinning around it.

This will allow your apps, such as the built-in Chrome browser or Gmail to be used in any orientation you want.

But there's no way built-into the Nexus 7's Jelly Bean implementation (without hacking it) to turn on the native tablet UI or to unlock the orientation of the home screen itself. Which is enough to drive you mad.

Unless... you replace the launcher with something else.

If you pick up a Nexus 7, I implore you to immediately download Apex Launcher and use it as your default home screen. It'll save you some money on psychotherapy and will definitely keep you from walking into Google's headquarters with a fully automatic weapon.

What's Apex Launcher? Essentially, it's a souped-up version of the Android 4.x tablet UI with lots of extra customization options. And it's a free download. 

There are other alternative launchers out there, such as Nova, but I'm partial to Apex as it is tailored specifically for Ice Cream Sandwich as well as Jelly Bean.

Please Google, fix this so that end-users don't have to go to 3rd-party solutions the minute they start using this product. You got everything right up until the point you decided to gimp the home screen UI.

Have you switched the launcher already on your Nexus 7? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

 

Topics: Tablets, Android, Google, Mobile OS

About

Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet is a technologist with over two decades of experience with integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer... Full Bio

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