Nexus 5 Tips and Apps to Get Started

Nexus 5 Tips

If you are planning on getting a Nexus 5, or have just received yours, this article is full of tips to get you on your way.

Being a regular Galaxy phone owner, it’s always been a cinch to migrate from one phone to another using the Samsung account back up and restore. When I’ve moved to another phone, like the Xperia Z, I use MyBackupPro, which does pretty much everything that the Samsung service does and more. However, after I used this app to transfer everything across the Nexus 5, the phone dialler app constantly force closed. So at this point in time looks like it’s not compatible.

Nexus 5 tips for messaging: Google contacts have come across from my Google account, which is fine, and instead I’ve gone with SMS backup and restore to at least get my messages moved over. However a word of warning, hangouts is now the default sms app, and you have to change the default to the sms backup and restore app in order to import your sms history. Remember to change the default back to hangouts again after you’ve loaded your SMS’s.

The other thing you should do is make sure your language setting is on English US, cos this is currently the only way to get the whole “okay google” voice activated search working.

Nexus 5 tips for installing apps: The next one is loading up your apps – if you’re restoring from an existing Google account you may end up with heaps of apps that you actually don’t want on your new Nexus 5. So what I do is install via a PC on a web browser from It’s quick and because you’ve just registered your Nexus 5, that unit will come up as the first smartphone – the play store will actually remotely install the app onto your phone as long as it’s online.  This is actually one of the best features of the Google Play store, and you can install only the apps you want rather than using the Google restore option.

Nexus 5 tips for backup: Now, because the Nexus 5 doesn’t have external storage, I’ve set up my dropbox account to get all my photos uploaded as soon as I’m on a wifi connection. Even if I delete the pic from the phone, or reset the phone from scratch, the pics are protected. And by pics I do mean images and video content. You can also do that with the built-in Google Photos app, but I haven’t used it yet to go through it with you.

Nexus 5 tips for customised ringtones: If you want to personalise your ring tone, again not as easy as the galaxy, which just required a long press on an mp3 file and use the set as function. On the Nexus you are limited to the preset tones built-in. So I downloaded an app called “Rings extended” which adds another option in the set ring tone area, allowing you to use your own mp3 files.

Speaking of files, the Nexus 5 doesn’t come with its own file management app. So you should download your own if you like seeing what’s on your phone, and being able to delete or add through the file structure. The one I use is ES file explorer. It’s easy to use and free.

By the way, another download I’d do right away is one for a torch that uses the led, and get a widget, not an app, so that you can activate it right from a home screen.

Nexus 5 tips for using widgets: The other widget I’d put onto the home screen right away is the toggle widget. I’m always turning bluetooth and wifi on and off and it’s much better to just have a widget to do that. So while I’m here I’ll kill two birds with one stone and show you how to easily get widgets onto the home page. Just long press a home screen, press the widgets symbol, scroll through and find that toggle widget, and then long press again to choose where to place it. Now to add a new home screen, and you can add as many as you want, Google have removed that restriction, just slide it to the far right of the screen and it will add a screen once you’ve passed the last one.

By the way, if you want to change your main home page then just hold a screen and move it to the far left, it then becomes the page that is returned to when you press the home button.

Nexis 5 tips for shortcuts: And lastly, if you haven’t used a Nexus before you may not be aware of the one finger two finger drag down. One finger down shows you notifications, and two finger shows you common settings like wifi, battery charge and brightness. Now these aren’t widgets but shortcuts to the settings for each aspect. I use it to check percentage of battery left because as of yet, there is no method to put the percentage remaining in the top status bar.

There are just some of the things I found when putting my new nexus 5 to the daily grind, hopefully it’s been useful to you. If you have any other tips or even a better way than what I’ve shown please drop a comment in the area below.


What Is Cracked Screen Grief?

So just what is cracked screen grief? It is the stuff of nightmares. Wake up one clear morning, charging your old phone for the last time before heading down to your local phone store to pick up one of the first models of a newly release phone, only to have to slip out of your pocket THE DAY you bought it. Lift the phone off the ground to see the remnants of a cracked screen glaring at you.

I can't wait to test out the performance of my brand new WHAT THE??? Nooooooooo!

I can’t wait to test out the performance of my brand new WHAT THE??? Nooooooooo!

I know this feeling well because like many, many others, I’ve experienced it, and in my case it was a brand new Galaxy Note 3 that I’m sure had just come off the assembly line the week previous.

And while one side of my brain was going through the trauma and devastation of my stupidity (I should have bought a case!), the other side was observing my emotional twitches and keeping a cold-hearted record of the progression of my internal drama.

After all, it’s just a cracked screen, right? Big deal. If you love your tech as much as I do, and I’m sure a lot of you would, then you’d probably see the loss of a phone as akin to the loss of a pet or even a family member. And yes, eventually I did get over what I’d done to my shiny new plaything, but everytime I saw the cracked screen staring back at me, I’d have a moment of heart arresting anger.

So here we are, and as part of my cathartic process I’d like to share with you a very personal journey into my mind, when faced with the reality of a new smartphone that is essentially “dead on arrival” – but through no’s fault but my own. May I present to you, the five stages of grief, as modified by the modern circumstance of a cracked screen.

Asus Padfone, Padfone Station and Stylus – First Look

Ever since the first Transformer was unleashed to an unsuspecting Android community, we’ve been keeping an eye on the innovative releases from Asus. We’ve seen the Eee Pad Slider, the Transformer Prime, and have seen the TF700 in its prototype format at the CES earlier this year. Now, this Asus Padfone first look is another feather in the cap for the Taiwanese PC company as it ramps up its tablet range.

Asus Padfone - the smartphone that transforms into a tablet, which then transforms into a keyboard driven mobile product. No shortage of innovation here.

As part of the Asus Padfone first look, we have an unboxing video, which shows all the gear that comes bundled with both the Padfone and the large screen Padfone station - come back to see this in a few hours.

For those familiar with the delicious family feast consisting of a chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed into a turkey, the Asus Padfone does feel a little like a technology turducken. Each added element adds a little more functionality but also obviously pads out (forgive the pun) the Asus Padfone’s dimensions and weight. Here’s the overview segment that we think gets across all the cool things about the Padfone:

As you could see, the Padfone is a pretty stock standard ICS build in a nice Ultrabook/Transformer Prime style case. The more I use the native Android 4 environment on mobiles, the more I like it, and the same applies to the Asus Padfone, which is light, comfortable in the hand and should have enough grunt to run whatever Android apps you throw at it, courtesy of the Snapdragon dual core 1.5GHz processor.

Then we have the Asus Padfone Station, which is the 10.1″ inch screen that comes to life when you insert the Padfone into the cradle in the back. The screen looks just like any other Asus ICS tablet product with the familiar home page graphics and Asus-specific widgets. The trick here is to remember that this isn’t a tablet, it’s just a screen displaying the output from the Padfone, which has all the grunt.

The next trick up the Padfone’s sleeve is to then connect the Padfone Station to the Asus Padfone Dock, which is essentially the keyboard dock that we have come to know and love from Asus. With all the same Android shortcuts as on other Transformer keyboards, a second SD card slot after the Micro-SD slot on the Padfone, and the ability to pump out well-typed messages and documents, you can see that Asus have pulled no punches to take this concept as far as it can, including a stylus that doubles as a bluetooth headset.

The Asus Padfone is a superb example of an idea that could well have stayed in the design and R & D labs. Kudos to Asus for showing just what is possible in the Android environment. Without taking away anything from this concept, one must be wondering what wonderful toys are lurking in their Windows 8 testing room.

Our local contacts have left the Asus Padfone with us for a few more days, so there is an opportunity to test or demonstrate a few more things for you and create more content around your feedback. Let us know what other details you’re interested in and we’ll come up with a few more segments around your comments.

Look forward to hearing from you!

Samsung Music Hub Update Makes It a Compelling Offer

Two weeks ago I published my experiences on Ritchie’s Room regarding the new Samsung Music Hub, which promised to usher in a new way to discover and enjoy music. At the time, there were many excellent features to be explored and used instantly on the Hub, which can be installed via the Samsung App feature, and was exclusive to the Galaxy S II.

The interface, with an array of album cover images, scrolling functions and tap commands, was quite intuitive to use. The depth of music selection was compelling, with many tracks that I thought I’d have trouble finding, popping up in the search results, much to my pleasure.

At the same time, there were some features which seemed to need some additional work. The ability to use the Music Hub on the Galaxy S II without a SIM card or on flight mode was an issue, and the caching of music tracks to playback without streaming was fraught with difficulties.

I mentioned this in my earlier post, along with a few suggestions to further improve the Music HUB service, which I see as a real game changer if the functionality is delivered as promised across multiple devices.

Samsung's Music Hub is all about discovering music, and the latest update adds stability and better functionality.

Fast forward two weeks, and I’m sitting down for a coffee and chat with Bruce Webb, the Applications Partner Manager for the Telco division in Samsung, who was instrumental in the design and launch of the local Music Hub app.

Bruce is excited to show me the latest iteration of the software which is due for release to the public in the next few days. The update addresses many of the points made in my previous article. Bruce says that Samsung estimate three quarters of the installed base of Galaxy S II users have downloaded the app, and they are working feverishly to ensure the user experience is flawless.

Full functionality is now available if there is a Wi-fi signal but no SIM card or 3G connection , and cached songs now play without issue, in normal mode or in flight mode.

In fact, there are a few additional features that Bruce demonstrates to me on his Galaxy S II using the updated Hub. One of them is an offline mode that retains all other functionality on the phone but blocks internet access to the Hub app, allowing you to play the locally cached playlists with no other restrictions to the handset.

Another improvement is a quick method of resetting the Music Hub app completely if any file was corrupt and is disrupting the functionality, and using the cloud to restore playlists once the App was wiped clean on the local handset storage.

The cloud plays a big part in the grand scheme of Samsung’s efforts to bring the music service to its customers. Once you are verified and registered with the Music Hub, the playlists you create reside in the servers that manage the service. Whether you use a browser, a phone or a TV, you can pick up where you left off, with the added benefit of a repository of ten thousand music videos on the Smart TV application. The upgrading of your devices has no bearing on the lists you may have built up over time; once signed in, the devices synchronise with your account and it’s a seamless experience.

Drop new songs and albums into the Play Pit, then create playlists which will be stored on the cloud.

Bruce sees the Samsung Music Hub as a natural evolution of the way we consume entertainment. “We’ve gone from physical media, to downloading digital files, to now streaming music”, he says. Technology has been the great disruptor, making it possible to utilise services like 3G to choose and play music that is completely customisable.

“I’ve been on a six hour trip to Tamworth, streaming music over the network through my handset the entire trip and played back through the car’s Bluetooth connection”, bruce boasts. Although most customers probably wouldn’t want to chew up their mobile data limit so frivolously, it does show how far we’ve come from having a stack of scratched, dusty CDs in the glove box.

The high point of the conversation occurs when Bruce removes a small USB dongle from his pocket and offers to update my Music Hub app to the latest version (v1.05 for those technically inclined). He certainly didn’t have a chance to withdraw the offer, and I’ve been trying out the revamped app ever since.

Knowing some of the frustrations I had with the original app, the latest version does indeed live up to the proposition of access to a massive collection of music across all genres. I held my breath while synching playlists and then playing back in various modes, and the locally stored music played back without a hitch.

Putting this offer in the context of purchasing music, whether online or on CD, is extremely compelling. For the cost of one discounted album per month, you have access to millions of songs, which can be played back instantly, and you can choose 50 albums worth of music to have on your device to be played back without streaming.

Take a chance and get a randomly assembled playlist from a selected genre. Feeling lucky?

This is another step forward for Samsung, who can make a big dent in the music market with the sheer size of their mobile phone, tablets and AV installed base. Bruce also shows me the Music Hub app running on an older Samsung smartphone, with a lower resolution. The app has a couple of adjustments to take into account for the smaller screen real estate, but otherwise it’s the same experience. Likewise with tablets, Bruce explains that the layout will be different again to take advantage of the larger screen space available.

It was a very open and frank discussion with the very person who helped create the Music Hub in Australia, and it’s the sign of a progressive electronics company reaching out and engaging with the community, taking on that community  feedback and including it in the development of its products and services.

As for the future, Bruce intends to roll out further updates regularly, with deeper genre subcategories to explore, expanded pre-packaged playlists and even celebrity or musician-based playlists. “It’s going to evolve constantly”, he says.

If you own a Galaxy S II and have been holding off because of what you’ve heard or read, the latest version due to be deployed in a matter of days is worth downloading and at least trialling. The Music Hub is all about music discovery, so install the latest version of the App and go on your own musical adventure – you never know what you might find.

Will you be giving the Samsung Music Hub a go? Feel free to comment below on your experiences using the latest version of the app.

From iPhone to Android…and Back?

Ever since I migrated from my iPhone 4 to a new Samsung Galaxy S II, I’ve been keen to cover my experiences using the Android platform. With iOS 5 due to be released later this year, I thought it would be a great opportunity to see what the competitor smartphone ecosystem had to offer, and reflect on what may bring me back to into the Apple fold.

After my recent Asus Eee Pad Slider article gained a fair amount of coverage last week, including a mention in the New York Times via Gigaom and Carrypad, the senior editor of Carrypad offered me an opportunity to contribute content to their website.

Android Honeycomb V iOS5

Android's latest Honeycomb platform has fired the first serious shots across the Apple bow. Will iOS5, due to be released next month, hold its own?

Carrypad is a news and review website devoted to all things mobile, including smartphones and tablets. The idea of that iPhone/Android article that had been mulling in the back of my head then came to the forefront, and became my first article submission, which has just been posted as their feature story.

I’m going to enjoy contributing more content to Carrypad over the coming months, particularly as the tablet and smartphone market heats up and new features from all ecosystems create an even larger potential business.

Thanks to Ben from Carrypad for the opportunity to part of the writing team.

Click on this link to read the full article on Carrypad.