November 28, 2012 75 Comments
Last update: October 17, 2013
This article has had over 110,000 views! Although it was written for the Nexus 10, many of these tips apply to other Android tablets as well. Enjoy!
Because my original Nexus 10 tips and tricks article was so incredibly popular, I’ve decided to write a follow-up. This time I’m including a few outside sources, however I assure you these tips will be every bit as good as the original ones and there will be no duplicates.
- Improve lag and choppiness – Some other Nexus users have found a simple fix to lag, choppiness, and stuttering performance that occurs when swiping across the home screens, opening the app drawer, typing on the keyboard, scrolling in the browser or even simply unlocking the device. I haven’t experienced too many problems like this, but still recommend you make the following change to see if it improves things. First, locate Google Currents in All Apps and open it. Tap “Settings” (the three dots) and uncheck “Enable Background Sync.” Reboot your Nexus 10. Source: TalkAndroid
- Unblock ads – There are several good Android ad blockers, but most require a rooted device. Adblock Plus is free and removes ads on a stock Nexus 10. Important note: One of my readers reported some serious problems after installing this app (see the comments section of my original tips article if you want details). For this reason, I’m recommending everyone hold off on installing this app until the company releases an update which addresses this issue. Source: Phandroid
- Maximize your battery life – To increase the battery life of your Nexus 10, try these suggestions:
– Turn off your tablet when you go to sleep and charge it all night.
– Set your screen brightness at 50% or lower. To do this go to Settings > Display > Brightness
– Uninstall power hungry apps – Go to Settings > Battery and look at the top battery users . On my Nexus 10, Yahoo Weather consumes as much power then the screen and the OS combined! To uninstall go to the All Apps folder and drag the problem app on top of the Uninstall label at the top of the screen
– Turn off your GPS when you don’t need it. To do this go to Settings > Location Access and set ‘Access to my location’ OFF. If you do this, any app which requires the GOS including Google Now will not function correctly.
– If you rarely use Bluetooth or NFC, make sure both are off. To turn off NFC, go to Settings > More…
– Check the Sleep setting (under Display) and make sure it is set to 1 minute or less.
- Tether your tablet to your phone for free – As long as you have an Android smartphone, there’s no need to purchase a tablet with cellular support, or pay extra to use your phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot. Just download and install FoxFi on your phone and check ‘Activate WiFi Hotspot.’ Then go to Settings > Wi-Fi on your tablet, and connect to ‘FoxFi14.’ Now you’ll sharing data with your mobile phone. Make sure to keep tabs on the data usage shown in the upper right hand corner of the FoxFi app, and do not use this app if you sometimes come close to using all of your available mobile data. I cannot be held responsible for any extra data charges you incur because of the use of this app. Other caveats: The free version of FoxFi now has a usage limit that requires you to restart FoxFi at some point. You can purchase the full version key to unlock this. Currently WiFi mode does not work on most phones with Jelly Bean and most HTC phones (except for HTC One). However, Bluetooth mode works for all phones.
- Import contacts from other sources – If you have contacts stored in Outlook, Yahoo or another source, export them as a comma-separated value or CSV file. For contacts from Apple’s Address Book, expert as vCard. It’s not essential, but is a good idea if you open this file using a spreadsheet and make some edits on your computer to clean up things. Now you’re ready to import your contacts. Open Google Contacts on your computer and click on ‘More.’ Select ‘Import’ and select the file you exported. After your contacts have been imported, you should go to ‘More’ again and select ‘Find and merge duplicates.’
- Clean up your contacts and add photos to them – If you have problems with duplicate contacts or contacts with missing info, you should go to Scrubly.com. Scrubly is a free service for people with less than 250 contacts. In addition to cleaning your contacts, Scrubly will import photos, birthdays, company, job title and more. Make sure to link Scrubly with your Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, so it can pull from those sources as well. I’ve used this service and was very impressed, but if you don’t like it, you can revert back to the way things were.
- Send SMS texts directly from your tablet – There are several different ways to send SMS texts from your Nexus 10, but one of the better ones is an app called Tablet Talk. This app uses Bluetooth to talk to your Android smartphone. This app is nice because the person you’re texting does not need to install any special software and all texts are sent using your mobile number. With Tablet Talk you can have a text conversation on your tablet just like you would on your phone. This is a paid app ($3) but I think it’s worth it. Install it on your tablet first and then connect to your Android phone via Bluetooth. Once you do that, you can download Tablet Talk on your Android phone for free. Tip: If you’re having problems connecting your Nexus 10 with your phone using Tablet Talk, make sure the Tablet Talk app is open on your phone first and then press the orange button in the lower-left hand corner of the Tablet Talk app on your Nexus 10. If you live in the U.S. and don’t want to mess around with Bluetooth, Google Voice allows you to easily send SMS texts as well and it’s free. The only negative is the fact that your texts will come from your Google number, and not your normal mobile number. Update: Mysms is now my favorite app for this purpose because it’s available in a tablet-optimized version for Android and can send texts to iOS devices, Windows phones, Macs, Chrome devices and Windows PCs. The tablet-optimized Android version is $2, while most other versions are free.
- Install an office app – At some point you’re going to need to open a file which was created with Microsoft Office. There are many apps that do this. Consider Kingsoft Office (free), Quickoffice Pro HD, OfficeSuite Pro, Documents To Go or Google Drive (which replaced Google Docs). Most of these apps also create Word or Excel-style docs as well.
- Try another web browser – Chrome is good, but there are other good third-party browsers as well. Check out Firefox Browser for Android, Dolphin Browser, Opera (Mobile or Mini web browser), Puffin Web browser Free and xScore. Each have advantages over the others. You can read more about them in Google Play.
- Speed up animations to make your tablet feel snappier – There’s another quick way to make your Nexus 10 feel snappier. By speeding up (or disabling) the animated fade-in effects you see when switching between tasks, you’ll see a boost in performance and faster screen transitions. Start by unhiding “Developer options” as described in Tip #11 here. Once in “Developer options,” scroll down to the “Window animation scale” and “Transition animation scale” options and set both to .5x. You can even turn each of these off and transitioning between apps and pages will be almost instant. If you ever want to go back, remember the defaults for both of these settings are 1x. Source: Cult of Android
- Learn how to use your camera – Because there is no information about using the camera in the Nexus Guidebook, I’m adding some info here. You’ll find the ‘Camera’ app in the All Apps folder. Long press its icon and drag it to one of your home screens. To take a picture using the rear camera, press the big blue button. You’ll hear a sound which indicates you’ve taken a photo. To view the photo you’ve just taken, swipe to the left. Swipe back to the right to return to the camera. To switch to the front camera, press the circle to the right of the blue button. Then click on the camera icon with the arrows under it. In a few seconds you should see yourself on the view finder. The +/- controls are for exposure. To make a photo less bright press -1, -2 or -3. Next to that is the Settings button. From here you can access presets for things like action shots, night photos and sunset photos under ‘Scene mode.’ ‘Store location’ tags your photo with GPS info. Next to that are the white balance settings for different types of light. Next are the flash settings, To turn off the flash, touch the lightning bolt with an ‘x’ next to it. Press the Back button when you’re finished. To switch to the video camera, press the camera button to the left. From top to bottom, the buttons are ‘Photo Sphere,’ Panorama, Video, and Still Camera. Here is the most comprehensive guide to using the Android 4.2 camera that I’ve seen so far.
- Get a stylus for more control – Although the Nexus 10 doesn’t have the same level of sensitivity of a Galaxy Note II, a stylus will give you more control and make it easier to take shorthand notes. Make sure to check out the reviews before you buy any stylus and never buy the cheapest one available, because you probably won’t be happy if you do.
- Transfer files quickly using Wi-Fi Direct – Wi-Fi Direct lets you send any type of file from your Nexus 10 to another Wi-Fi Direct device like a Samsung Galaxy S III. To send a photo or movie over Wi-Fi direct from your tablet to your phone, go to the ‘Photo Gallery’ app and select the file you wish to send. Then touch the item so the Share button appears. Next, select an app from the list which you know has Wi-Fi Direct support. I use the ‘OfficeSuite Wi-Fi Direct’ app. If you don’t have that, try Wi-Fi Shoot. Now, select the device you want to send your file to from the list of available devices. Photos only take a few seconds to transfer. Sending a 200MB movie took less than 5 minutes. Note: The receiving device may be sluggish while a file is being sent to it. On the sending end, you can swipe down on the Notification bar to see the transfer progress of the file. After the file transfer is complete, select the app on the receiving end that you want to view the file with. The file sent/received notifications cannot be cleared manually. They will go away after you restart your devices.
- Long press a notification for app info – If you long press a notification, an “App info” button will appear and you will be able to find out more about the application that sent it. You can clear its cache, data, stop it, uninstall it or disable sending notifications. Source: Android Geeks
- Speak and translate – You may have seen the new Droid RAZR M commercial where the girl speaks into her phone and it speaks the words back in a different language. You can do that with your Nexus 10 as well. Just launch Google Translate. Touch the microphone icon, and speak the words you want translated. Touch the speaker next to the translated words to hear them back.
- Fix problems with some apps – If you find an app that is giving you trouble, try wiping its cached data. To do this, go to Settings > Apps, then pick the problem app from the list which appears and tap the ‘Clear cache’ button. If that doesn’t fix the problem, you want to try the ‘Clear data’ button as a last resort. But keep in mind if you do this you could lose stored data like photos. Source: Android Geeks
- Scribble and translate – You can scribble on your tablet’s screen and Google Translate will translate the words into to any language.
- Try these tablet charging tips – For best results, power off your Nexus 10 and let it charge all night. If you do this, you should be able to get through an entire day of normal use without running out of power. On peak usage days, charge your tablet for an hour during lunch or early afternoon.
- Turn your tablet into a media server – Although the Nexus 10 is not pre-loaded with a DLNA media server like Samsung’s AllShare Play, there are free alternatives this work even better. Download and install Twonky Beam. It will let you access media on your tablet from your Xbox 360, Sony PS3, Roku box, connected TV — or any of the 13,000 other DLNA-certified devices. [Disclosure: I used to work for the company who makes this software]
- Enable auto-fill on third-party browsers – Although Chrome has an ‘Autofill forms’ setting, there are other apps which give you more control over this. Install Dolphin Browser and the Autofill Form add-on for it.
- Lower your screen brightness even more – If you sometimes like to use the Nexus 10 in a room with all lights off, you may find that the screen is still too bright even when brightness is turned all of the way down. Apps like Screen Filter allow you to adjust the brightness of the screen as dark as you like.
- Beam something from your phone to tablet – If you have another Android device with NFC support like a Samsung Galaxy S III you can beam browser pages, YouTube videos, contacts and more from your phone to your tablet (or vice versa). Start by finding the media you want to beam and make sure both devices are unlocked. Next place your phone on the Nexus 10 as shown in the photo. In a few seconds you should feel each vibrate and hear a sound. Touch the screen after you see the image get smaller and the words ‘Touch to beam’ appear on the screen. If you’ve done it successfully, the image will continue to get smaller on the screen until it disappears. More info. In case you’re wondering where the two NFC sensors are on your Nexus 10. One is on the back to the right side of the camera near the top. The other one is by the front camera.
- Transfer files from your Mac to your tablet – If you’ve got a Mac, you’ll want to download and install the Android File Transfer app. Then plug your tablet into your Mac and the transfer app should automatically launch. Now can copy or move files by simply dragging and dropping them into the folders on the Nexus 10.
- Control your Mac or PC using your tablet – When I first read about this tip, I didn’t think I would like it, but I was wrong. This may sound like a gimmick, but it’s really useful. First install WiFi Mouse on your tablet. Next, download mouse server software and install it on your computer. Launch the WiFi Mouse app on your tablet and touch ‘Auto Connect.’ You should now be able to control your mouse using your tablet. You can even right-click, but in order to type using your tablet and have that text appear on your computer you’ll need to upgrade to the full version. Source: Redmond Pie
- Disable notifications on a single individual application – If you want to turn off notifications for a single app, follow these steps: First swipe down the notification bar. Then long press the notification until a box appears that says, “App Info.” Touch that and then uncheck the “Show Notifications” checkbox. Then touch OK to approve the change. Source: Droid Life
- Boot into Safe-mode to troubleshoot problems – If you are experiencing a problem with your Nexus 10 and you want to determine whether they are being caused by a third-party app, press the power button for seven seconds until your tablet reboots. Then press and hold both the volume up and down keys until you see the words ‘Safe mode’ appear in the lower left-hand corner of the screen. If the problem goes away when you’re in safe mode, you should reboot your tablet and start removing recently installed apps until the problem goes away. Source: How-To Geek
- Upload your music to the cloud – Since the Nexus 10 has a limited amount of internal storage and is not expandable, you should upload all of the music on your computer to the cloud. Google Music allows you to store up to 20,000 songs for free. Using the Google Music app, you’ll be able to access all of them as long as you have a Wi-Fi connection. To upload your music, download Google’s free Music Manager software to your computer.
- Control a DSLR with your tablet – DSLR Controller is a popular app that allows you to fully control your Canon EOS DSLR from your Nexus 10 with only a USB cable. Use your tablet to control, Live View, Image review, Auto Focus, Manual focus, Zoom control, HDR, Timelapse, Wi-Fi Passthrough, Shutter speed, Aperture, ISO speed, White balance and much more. It’s $8, so make sure your camera is on its supported device list before you buy. If you have a Canon camera like the 6D with Wi-Fi support, check out Canon CameraWindow and EOS Remote. Both of these apps are free.
- Download USA-restricted apps & media anywhere – If you have rooted your Nexus 10 and want to free access territory-restricted apps and media, download and install Droid VPN and follow these instructions. I do not recommend that you root your tablet for this reason alone, because it may prevent you for getting OS updates directly from Google. Also, as one of my readers points out in the comments section below, this tip may only be helpful on content that does not require a credit card, because Google Play restricts purchases by country. Source: One Click Root
- Sync your tablet with iTunes – It’s easy to copy music or videos from your iTunes library to your tablet. However, I recommend that you don’t move everything – unless you have a 32GB Nexus 10 with lots of free space. You can find detailed instructions how to do this here. Source: CNET
- Upgrade your screen background and save battery life – Upgrade your screen background and save battery life – Most of the stock Wallpapers that come with your Nexus 10 tablet are not great. They use bright colors and do not take advantage of the full resolution of your display. Although you can download wallpaper apps, your best bet is to find some images you’ve taken with your DSLR camera or do an advanced search on Google Images. Enter a description in the first box, if you’re not sure what your looking for try “HD wallpapers”, “high resolution images” or ‘2560×1600 wallpaper’ in the first box. Select ‘Larger than 4 MP’ as the image size. If you want the best quality available, search for images above 12 MP. You’ll see a wide range of images to choose from. Click on a few that you like, and make sure to click ‘Full-size image’ on the right-hand side of the screen.
You’ll find there are a lot of decoy images, which are smaller than they are supposed to be. If it doesn’t say 2560×1600 or larger under ‘Full-size image’ you should go back and select another image. If can’t find anything good on Google Images, try Google+ Communities or Picasa Web Albums. There are some good dark Nexus 10 backgrounds on this Google+ page. Now right-click on the large image and select ‘Save image as…’ Move all of your saved images into a folder called ‘New wallpapers’ and copy that into the ‘Pictures’ folder on your Nexus 10 using a USB cable. You could select your images from the Gallery, but you’d be asked to crop them and that would lower their resolution. Although the Nexus screen is 2560×1600, I’ve been told that the size of the wallpapers that Google includes with the Nexus 10 are 3966×2560. That’s because they pan when you change home screens. I use an app called ‘Simple Image Wallpaper Free’ which displays your wallpaper at its full resolution, doesn’t require cropping and doesn’t pan when you move to another home screen.
If all this seems too hard, try a wallpaper app from Google Play like Wallbase, Interfacelift or Wallpaper Wizardii. Just make sure to select images which are 2560×1600 or higher, (3966×2560 is even better if possible).
- Transfer files wirelessly from an iPad to your Nexus 10 – You can send or receive, photos, videos, music, contacts or notes over Bluetooth from any iOS device to any Android device. In order to do this, you need a jailbroken iOS device, and the AirBlue Sharing app which you can purchase for $5 from Cydia. See it in action here. Source: Redmond Pie
- Install a better Live Wallpaper – All of the Live Wallpapers that come with the Nexus 10 are poor quality. You should install a good Live Wallpaper like Light Grid, Mystic Halo LW, Blue Skies Free, PanoPlanet, or Ocean HD ($1.99). My current favorite Live Wallpaper is Lonely Tree. It really shows off the Nexus 10’s screen with its 60fps motion and extreme detail. If you watch carefully, you’ll notice the clouds, tree branches, snow all move independently. Avoid most wallpapers in Google Play which claim to be HD. Most do not look good on the Nexus 10’s display. Once you’ve installed your new Wallpaper, go to Settings > Display > Wallpaper > Live Wallpapers and select the one you wish to use. Then touch Set Wallpaper and press the Back button to return to the Home screen.
- Stop Google from reading your email – Google Now is able to do some cool things by scanning your Gmail. If this bothers you and you want to turn it off, open the Google Search app, go to Settings > Google Now and uncheck “Show cards based on Gmail.”
- Bookmark some tablet-optimized websites – More websites are starting to update their layouts so they look great on the Nexus 10. Checkout sites like Engadget, Google News, TNW (The Next Web) and BGR to see great examples of this.
- Maximize your screen’s contrast – Because the Nexus 10 uses a different screen technology than the Samsung Galaxy S III or iPad, you can’t set the brightness as high if you want the best contrast between black and white. I recommend that you set your screen brightness at 50% to 60% — unless you’re outside.
- Quickly review your photos and delete the bad ones – Within the Gallery app, touch where it says ‘Grid view’ to change to ‘Filmstrip view’. In this view, you can swipe right to move from photo to photo, or swipe down to delete any photo you don’t like. If you accidentally delete a photo, touch ‘Undo’ in the lower-right hand corner, but do this quickly because this option goes away after you go to the next photo.
- Expand your storage with an external Wi-Fi drive – Companies like Kingston have solid-state drives that add 32GB, 64GB or 128GB of additional storage to your tablet. These drives are small and communicate over Wi-Fi.
- Transfer files, photos or contact info using Bump – Bump is a free app which lets you transfer files wirelessly between any two devices (Android or iOS) — even if they don’t support NFC. To use, open the ‘Bump’ app on both devices and select the file (or files you wish to transfer). Then tap the two devices together and press the blue Connect button on both of the devices. You can bump photos to your computer by going to http://bu.mp and bumping your spacebar with your device. Bump works with videos, docs, spreadsheets, presentations are more.
- Stream a high-definition movie directly to your tablet from VUDU – You can now stream or download an HD movie or TV show from VUDU . The Nexus 10 is one of only four devices that support VUDU currently. All you need is the free VUDU app and a VUDU account. Vudu has a number of advantages over Google Play including on-the-go access to your UltraViolet Digital Collection of Blu-ray movies. [May not be available to Nexus users outside the U.S.]
- Fix auto-brightness problems – Android 4.2 has an auto-brightness setting, but it doesn’t work very well. You should download Lux Auto Brightness to fix this problem. Lux automatically adjusts the brightness of your display based on your environment. When you go into a dark room, Lux will automatically lower the brightness of your display after you unlock your screen to make reading more enjoyable.
To setup Lux you need to go through their setup wizard. I suggest you leave the factory default settings as is. After you do that, you’ll need to go back and launch the app again and touch ‘Press to enable Lux.’ Lux will adjust every time you unlock your screen. Although there is a dynamic setting, it doesn’t work as well, because it’s possible for your finger to occasionally block the light sensor when you hold the tablet in Portrait mode. If you sometimes use your tablet in a totally dark room, I suggest you go to the settings page and set ‘Night Mode’ alpha to 10.
- Get a Bluetooth keyboard – You can hook up a wired keyboard to the USB port on the Nexus 10, but a Bluetooth keyboard is much more convenient because its wireless. One of the best keyboards for the Nexus 10 is the Logitech keyboard for Android devices. It’s only $51 and is easy to setup. Just turn it on and press the Connect button on the button of the keyboard. Then go to Settings > Bluetooth on your tablet, touch Search for Devices, and select the Logitech keyboard. Next, type the number which appears on your tablet and press the Enter key to pair it. Now anytime the Bluetooth keyboard is on, you can type on it instead of your tablet. This keyboard comes with a carrying case which doubles as a tablet stand.
- Improve your Wi-Fi signal strength – If you have a few spots in your residence where you’re not getting a strong Wi-Fi signal, you should consider purchasing a $40 Wi-Fi booster like this one. It’s easy to setup and designed for use with tablets. Just plug it in and wait for its LED to turn green. Then press the WPS button on the extender and your router and you should be ready to go. The new Wi-Fi network will be called the same as the old one, but end with “_EXT”. Make sure to select that network when you’re having signal strength issues. After connecting to a Wi-Fi Extender, I’m getting speeds that are almost 4 times faster than I was before.
- Create your own photo albums – You can use a file explorer app like ES File Explorer to make new photo albums inside of the Pictures folder. This is done by going to the Menu and selecting New and Folder. If you do this, your newly created albums will appear when you open the photo Gallery app. You can also delete any albums you don’t want by pressing Select and then touching the items you wish to delete. When you are finished touch the trash can.
- Get cut and paste to work every time – Several people have written to tell me they are having problems with cut and paste, so I thought I would try to help with this. To select a word, touch and hold on a word until the highlight and arrows pop up. When you do this on a text document, you’ll be presented with the following choices at the top of the screen: Select All, Copy, Cut and Paste. Drag the two blue region selection handles around the desired text and select Copy (or another one of the available commands). Then touch where you want to insert the copied text and hold until the word Paste appears. Press Done when you’re finished.
If you do this on a Web page or most other screens, you’ll be presented with the following choices: Select All, Copy, Share, Search Web or Find. If the handles are orange and you don’t see Select All, Copy, Cut and Paste at the top of the screen, you should long-press the selection and Copy, Select All and Share will appear in a pop-up menu. Once you cut or copy the desired text, you’ll be able to paste it — after you long press where you want to insert it. If the paste option goes away, just touch one of the region selection handles again and it will reappear.
- Use your tablet to buy things without a wallet – Since most U.S. carriers block Google Wallet on their smartphones, Nexus devices are the only way for most of us to use NFC to purchase things. Before you go to the store you need to run the Google Wallet app once to link it to your credit card and enter a PIN for security. You do not need to be connected to a Wi-Fi network in order to Tap and Pay. Just tap the back of your tablet near the camera on the cash register. You do need to be connected to setup a card or switch between default payment cards however. You can use Google Wallet in-store anywhere contactless payments are accepted, at over 300,000 merchants across the United States. Learn more about Google Wallet here.
- Use NFC to change settings – Another nice application for NFC is automatically changing settings when you move your tablet from one location to another. You can purchase low-cost sensor tags like these that can be placed anywhere and programmed to do many different things using an app like NFC Task Launcher. For example, when I set my tablet on my desk, it turns Bluetooth on so my keyboard works, changes Wi-Fi to a nearby 5GHz access point and turns up the system volume. When I go into to my bedroom, and touch my phone on the night stand it changes to my Wi-Fi extender network, and turns Bluetooth and system volume off.
- Stream music directly to your stereo speakers – Even though the speakers in the Nexus 10 are much better than other tablets, they are not as good as the ones that come with your stereo. By purchasing Belkin’s low-cost HD Bluetooth Music Receiver you can stream music wirelessly from your Nexus 10 (or the cloud) directly to your stereo up to 30 feet away. This works with Google’s Play Music app as well as other great free music services like Spotify, Songza and Pandora’s Internet radio app. Setup is made easier because it uses the Nexus 10’s NFC chip for “tap-and-play” pairing. I want this.
- Get 50GB of free cloud storage – You can never have too much storage. That’s why I use SkyDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive and MediaFire. MediaFire isn’t as flexible as the other storage lockers I mentioned above, but it’s the only one that gives you 50GB of FREE storage. You’ll need to first go to their website and create an account, then you can download the MediaFire app from Google Play.
- Changing your download directory – Several people have asked how they can change the default Download directory. You can do this with Dolphin Browser by going to Menu> More> Settings> Privacy & Personal Data> Download Directory.
Copyright 2013 Rick E. Schwartz. All rights reserved. Linking to this article is encouraged
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