In this session, John LeMasney joined the audience in a conversation about the Android operating system, and the Nexus 7 Tablet, Google’s first entry into the tablet market. The Nexus 7 was Google’s first competitive action to the ever-popular Apple iPad, and its quick success in the industry prompted Apple to cut the size of their iPad in the offering of the iPad mini. While other vendors like Samsung found some success with their Tab Android Tablet line, the Nexus was the first Google-designed device in this form factor. The device was manufactured by Asus. Here are the ten things that LeMasney presented about the Nexus, and Android Tablets.
- Android versus Chrome OS
There is still some confusion in the market about when someone might choose an Android based device (like phones and tablets) and when they might opt instead for a Chromebook running Chrome OS (essentially a laptop running only a browser) which LeMasney and Howarth discussed in a previous Lunch & Learn. Google itself said that Android is for touch-based devices and Chrome OS is for keyboard-based devices, though that answer is complicated by Google’s recent release of the Chromebook Pixel which features a touch interface. It is also complicated by Android devices such as the Cotton Candy Stick based PC, a small device running Android meant to be used with a keyboard, mouse and monitor. Since many users of both Chromebooks and Android devices are happy and satisfied with the abilities of the devices, the confusion may not matter that much.
- The Play Store
One of the first things that you will do with an Android device is sign into it with a Google account, and that authentication will allow you to install applications with Google’s own app, media, and book store called Google Play. Play, like Amazon’s app store for Kindle devices and Apple’s Store for iOS devices, allows you to buy (or often download for free) and install movies, music, apps, books, and even buy new devices, such as the Nexus 7. You can even install Amazon’s App store along with the Play store on your Android device. The idea behind each of these ecosystems is to create a one-stop shop for all your media needs, and the tablets, phones, desktops and other devices can then allow users to get to and consume all of that media from anyplace on a network.
- Navigation and Folders
You can move, delete or collect installed apps into folders on your tablet screens. These actions become available after doing a long press on an app, meaning that your touch the app and hold your finger there for a moment until it ‘jumps’, at which point you can move it. Once you install an application from the Play store, you can do a long press on it in your installed application list on your tablet and drag it to the screen where you’d like it to live as a shortcut. You can also drag an app onto another app to create a collection or folder of those apps.
- Keyboards and Voice to Text
While the default screen-based keyboard is a perfectly nice way to search, write and update in your apps, you can choose to install alternative keyboards on Android to add different functionality. If you install the keyboard from Swype, for example, you can swipe your finger over the letters of a word, and the application will guess the word that you are typing from your gesture, which can be great for increasing the speed of your typing. Alternatively, Android has voice recognition that you can use to search, play your favorite artist, or dictate a written note. You can learn more about Voice actions in Android from this Google article.
- Customized Interfaces
Another interesting aspect of the Android experience is that you can completely replace the interface with apps like Nova Launcher, which allows you to change the icons, background, lock screen and other interfaces. You can also create a dashboard of widgets to see information like email, weather, social media updates, and calendar events at a glance of your screen without entering those applications. With an Android only application like Tasker, you can create sensor based triggers for actions, like to start playing music whenever you plug in headphones, turn down your volume when you connect to your work’s WiFi, or send an automated text to your spouse when you walk into the geolocation of your parking lot at work.
- Google Services
Google’s Nexus Tablet makes very strong use of Google services. With Drive, you can store and edit all of your documents, drawings, spreadsheets, and presentations. With Calendar, you can keep track of your agenda. With Gmail, you can stay informed of conversations with friends and colleagues. With Plus, you can follow and stay informed about the contacts and topics that you find most important. You can use Google Maps to navigate and find out what’s going on in your locality. Google’s tablet includes all of these dedicated apps and others to give you a lot of productivity options at the time of purchase.
- Google Now
Google Now is the default search engine interface in the latest version of Android. It adds value to your searches by predicting and presenting information that you need when and where you need it. For instance, if you do a search on an upcoming flight, it will track that flight and automatically present information related to it to you in Now. If you search on a location, it will show you a map of that site with a link to navigate to it. If you have an upcoming meeting, it will remind you about the meeting, and tell you when you have to leave to be there on time. You can turn on or off any of these notifications, called cards in Now.
- Sharing data between apps
You can easily share data like pictures between applications on Android. If you are in the Flipboard app and you see a picture that you’d like to post to Pinterest, you can do it easily just by installing both apps. From the image you’d like to share in Flipboard, touch the share button, choose Pinterest from the list of installed applications that understand pictures, and finish the share in the Pinterest app.
- Notifications and Quick Settings Bar
You not only get notified in Android when you get email, but you have the ability to expand that notification to preview the content of the email without ever leaving the notification dropdown. The latest version of Android also has a quick settings palette to quickly toggle wifi, sound, and other sensors. Here’s a basic overview of notifications from Google.
- Specifications for the Nexus 7
In closing, LeMasney shared the specifications of the Nexus 7 (https://play.google.com/store/devices/details?id=nexus_7_16gb)Screen:
7″ 1280×800 HD display (216 ppi)
Back-lit IPS display
Scratch-resistant Corning® glassCamera:
1.2MP front-facing cameraSize:
198.5 x 120 x 10.45mmWeight:
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
NFC (Android Beam)Memory:
16 GB internal storage (actual formatted capacity will be less)
1 GB RAMUSB
4325 mAH (Up to 8 hours of active use)OS:
Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)CPU:
NVIDIA® Tegra® 3 quad-core processorSensors:
NFC (Android Beam)
Here is the presentation from the talk: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/101_pg1qI4OuGjN-jGMuZU3tIRgUyPjI2aXvsx1MRL9I/edit?usp=sharing
Here is the screencast from the talk: