First 10 things to do with your new Nexus 7 tablet

First 10 things to do with your new Nexus 7 tablet

Summary: So you just bought a Nexus 7 tablet and you want to know what to do with this cheap but good Android tablet. Here's a short list of the things you can do first to help get the most out of your new toy.

TOPICS: Tablets, Android, Google
Home Screen Landscape

The Nexus 7 tablet by Google is a great gadget for the price, but can be overwhelming for the new buyer. That's what it seems from the constant correspondence I get from new buyers asking me what to do first with the new purchase. Colleague David Gewirtz is in that crowd, having just bought a Nexus 7 and complaining to me he can't find online what he should do first. This is for David and all the others in the same boat.

Once your Nexus 7 is out of the box follow the onscreen instructions to get it set up for use. That entails supplying your Google Account (aka Gmail) information and entering in your WiFi network details. 

Now that your Nexus 7 is online and logged in here's what you should do next.

Notification Shade Rotation

1. Turn on auto-rotation. For some reason Google has decided that the Nexus 7 is best used in portrait (long-wise up and down) orientation. That's not true for some uses, so swipe down from the very top of the screen to make the notifications shade drop down. Look for the little tablet with rotation arrows around it and tap it. That's it, your Nexus 7 will now rotate the screen to landscape orientation (long-wise left and right) when you turn the tablet around.

2. Buy Ultimate Rotation app. The auto-rotation enabled in #1 above works in any app but not on the home screen where you spend a lot of your time. The Ultimate Rotation app fixes that oversight of Google's by allowing you to rotate the screen any time, even on the home screen. The app does a lot of other things too, but for now just install it and let your screen rotate.

3. Buy SwiftKey 3 Tablet app. The default onscreen keyboard with the Jelly Bean version of Android on the Nexus 7 is pretty good, but if you want the best typing experience in my opinion get SwiftKey. This keyboard learns how you write by watching you as time progresses, and it quickly gets smart enough to figure out what you are going to type next.

It presents the words it thinks you want to enter as you type, and often figures out what word you will next enter based on the one you are typing now. Just tap the word in the box and it is entered for you, no typing required. The app is cheap and simply wonderful. 

SwiftKey 3 Tablet Split

In the landscape orientation you can split the keyboard into two halves as in the image above to make it easier to type with thumbs while holding the tablet.

4. Configure email. The Nexus 7 can handle Gmail and most any email account but they must be set up initially. The Gmail set up is as simple as running the Gmail app which logs you in and begins syncing your mail with Gmail.

For email accounts other than Gmail run the Email app and follow the onscreen instructions to configure your email. This can handle most email accounts without additional information required.

Be sure and enter your preferred signature tag in whatever email accounts you configure before you start sending email.

5. Update all installed apps. Run the Play Store app preinstalled on your tablet and hit the My Apps icon (down arrow over a line) at the top of the screen. You should see several apps that show an update available, hit the update all button and let it do its thing. In just a few minutes all your installed apps will be updated to the latest version. The first app update may give you the option to automatically update in the future, I recommend allowing this to happen by ticking this box.

Account Settings (188x300)

6. Set up social networks. If you use Facebook, Twitter, or Skype you should set them up so the Nexus 7 can sync with them. Go into Settings and scroll down to the Accounts section and add each network you use.

7. Set up home screens. The Nexus 7 has five home screens accessed by swiping left and right on the default screen. You can put app icons and widgets on these home screens to arrange things as you prefer. You can access apps and widgets by hitting the Apps icon in the center of the dock on the home screen.

The Nexus 7 ships with lots of apps and widgets installed, experiment with these to find the ones you like, then drag them to the home screen. The Play Store is full of apps and other widgets so investigate them at will.

If you don't like any of the widgets or apps Google has preset on the homescreens you can remove them. Hold down on the app/widget and drag it up to the Remove X that appears at the top of the screen. Removing an app/widget this way only removes it from the home screen, not delete it for good.

8. Set up the dock. The dock at the bottom of the home screen initially has 5 apps picked by Google for you. The dock is available from any of the 5 home screens and you should put the apps you use most for easy access. 

The dock will accept as many as 6 icons, so decide which you want and drag them down to the dock in the order you prefer. If your app is replacing one already in the dock first drag the existing icon in the dock up to the home screen to remove it from the dock. Then drag your new app into place.

Home Screen Portrait

9. Install Tablified Market HD. The Google Play Store is chock-full of apps but it can be a daunting task to find the good ones. It is especially hard to find the ones that work well on the tablet. The free Tablified Market HD app is a great app for finding all the apps in the Store for the tablet.

Tablified Market HD app (188x300)

The apps listed in Tablified are categorized to make finding specific types easy, and there is full search capability to also facilitate finding good apps. Discovering good apps for the Nexus 7 is fun with this app installed.

You can find it by searching for it by name in the Google Play Store.

10. Set up streaming music from the cloud. If you buy music from the Google Music store or the Amazon MP3 store the Nexus 7 can play your existing music collection by streaming it from the web. This requires a network connection for playing your music but saves valuable tablet storage space which is limited on the Nexus 7.

The Google Play app (preinstalled) is used to listen to Google music collections. Run the app and confirm your Google Account information. Open the settings to set the options you prefer for streaming your music to the tablet.

To stream your Amazon MP3 music from the Amazon Cloud install the Amazon MP3 app in the Play Store. Run it and log into your Amazon account. You will see your entire music collection which is ready for streaming.

If you have downloaded some of your music from either of these services you can set each music playing app to only play locally stored music when there is no web connection.

Additional reading about the Nexus 7:

Topics: Tablets, Android, Google

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  • Good list: SwiftKey 3 is phenomenal

    I've been using it for some time now on my phone. I used to dislike touchscreen keyboards (I still prefer physical ones for speed) but SwiftKey has changed that. I can literally just jab at the keyboard, making so little effort at what keys I'm pressing and 99% of the time the word I wanted, it guesses.

    You don't even have to press space, it does that for you too.

    Good find on the "Ultimate Rotation app". Google are idiots for thinking we want the home screen in portrait only (surely everyone know what portrait means?).

    Personally I'd get the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 (Dual Core) or better yet the upcoming Acer Iconia Tab A110 (Quad Core), which is coming in September. Both don't need to be changed to display in landscape and crucially have MicroSD slots.

    The Acer Iconia Tab A110 will come with Jelly Bean out of the box too (ICS for the Galaxy Tab 2). It does have a weaker quality screen over the Nexus 7 but I'd take that over no MicroSD slot any day.

    The Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 is a little on the expensive side (it's only a little more than the Nexus 7 though) but the Acer Iconia Tab A110 should be about the same price as the Nexus 7 (8Gb will be less than $200 / £179 in the UK vs. £159 for the Nexus 7).
    • Galaxy Tab fails

      Errr the 8gb Nexus 7 in the Uk is £159 + 10 postage = £169. Google love to scam you with the £10 stealth charges.

      i dont care for this hack James Kendrick and his slightly pathetic OCD list, shouldn't the tablet be running out the box perfect instead of these time wasting tweaks?

      Thats why apple dominate the tablet market because 99% of tablet buyers are NOT socially awkward tech nerds who spend hours rooting and configuring 10 billion user settings on their fragmented android 2.x device.

      Wait for the soon to be released 7 inch ipad and give this plastic copycat a miss
      • I like your name....

        I like your name again....
      • Your input is skewed.

        Wow. The sheer blind, ignorant lunacy of Apple Cult fanboys never ceases to amaze. I bet you haven't even tried the Nexus 7 and you would rather Steve Jobs put a Cleveland Steamer on your chest than admit that there is any decent hardware other than Apples. We get it, you like Apple products.
      • apple dominates tablet market because most people are retarded and

        they don't have any idea they are been robbed and scammed of thousands of dollars.
      • The Apple Tax

        I call shenanigans. The iPad Mini has almost identical hardware with an identical display and costs nearly twice as much. Android is a much more robust and flexible operating system than iOS, and I'll take a rooted Android tablet over a jailbroken Apple tablet any day of the week.

        So pay your extra few hundred dollars for your beloved Apple logo or get smart and stop paying the Apple tax.
        Steve Hamner
    • Google makes mistakes too...

      They are human beings that operate that company, not robots. Also there is a solution for that problem, so get that stick out your ass.
      Yamada Timur
  • Don't forget to....

    Take the back cover of and tighten the screws. Send back the first nexus you get for an exchange because your screen is separating from the case, screen is flickering and whiting out. And reboot often after crashes. Why is it that the iPhone has a little reception problem that affected very few people and its all over the blogs and news? Google ships out this half baked pos hardware (usually its the software but in this case its the hardware). Then again while JB is a little better than ics was on my galaxy tab but its still laggy and unstable. But I've learned that android will forever be this way. Project butter is more like peanut butter.
    • FUD

      Wrong. My first Nexus 7 has been without any issues whatsoever.
      • FUD

        Give him a break - look at the ID he posted with.
        Mine is flaw-free too. Love it.
        Robert Mitchell
      • I am not an Android fan

        Actually, I'm rather anti-Google. But the Nexus 7 has been an absolute revelation. Surprisingly smooth and glitch free in my experience. And talk about fast. Installing apps is a pleasure cos they just fly into place. Short of knocking together major documents, I'm getting real work done with this device. A tiny lightweight, hi-res device capable of remote desktop to my office machine, I've used it on the go for managing DHCP, ADUC, Exchange account management and the usual suspects such as email, web research and infinitum. Zero stability issues. IT...JUST...WORKS.
        • IT Apps???

          I will preface this by saying I do not have a Nexus 7 yet, I am trying out a Coby running Android ICS. I went with a cheaper device because I am trying to see what benefits there are to a tablet over a laptop.

          I just got my tablet a few weeks ago and that is what has brought me to this page. I have been trying to find some good apps to help me since I am getting into the IT field. I have been searching for a few weeks but have not had much luck yet.

          mountjl I see that you posted about being able to manage your network with it and I would appreciate it if you or anyone else could suggest some apps that would allow me to do this. If there are any other apps out there that would be good to increase my productivity please let me know so I can research them and learn more.

          Thank you in advance to any help you can give.
    • FUD

      Wrong. My first Nexus 7 has been without any issues whatsoever.
    • I question your Objectiveness, MACBOY

      It's just a device. You don't like them, don't buy them. It's simple. There is manufacturing errors with every electronic device and reception for a cell phone is kinda a big deal. No reception would make it useless for it's main purpose.

      If it makes you feel any better, my device is in perfect condition, with none of the defects you mention, and can say the same for friends and acquaintances who bought them.

      Just like the "few" issues that effect iOS devices, you hear more from people with problems, than people who's devices are fine.

      Don't worry, in the tablet space, Apple is still king. You don't have to chase down every Nexus 7 article to make a less that objective comment. Let people enjoy their devices. Why are you so worked up over the Nexus anyway? Why do you care to comment on something you don't even own, or plan to?
    • Boy.

      Grow up. Prat.
    • Since when Mac boys have Android?

      Thanks PBJ boy....
    • Lemons...

      Sounds like a bad experience for Macboy15... I rec'd my Nexus 7 nearly 2 weeks ago and have had NO problems whatsoever. Have not seen any lag or instability. I don't run 12 games at once, but I HAVE had several things running simultaneously and it didn't seem to slow down at all.
  • This is sad

    None of these steps are required and the fact that tech bloggers have no idea what to do next is at the very least sad!

    Unless, this is a thinly veiled attempt to make the iPad appear superior.
    • Not required but will help many

      Nobody said this was required, but I'm already hearing from new owners that find these useful.

      As for "thinly veiled attempt", it must be sad to see conspiracy under every rock.
      • There is a difference between implicit and explicit.

        Obviously you're intelligent enough to understand, after all, it was you that worded the article so, was it not?