Google’s Nexus 7 tablet is in hot demand right now. This unassuming 7-inch Android tablet is finding its way into millions of homes worldwide. Featuring a great set of specs that represent real value for money, the Asus-manufactured device delivers quality on a budget. If you’ve been unable to resist its charms, then you might be on the lookout for some handy Nexus 7 tips.
Before we dive in you might be interested to check out our Nexus 7 review, take a look at some common Nexus 7 problems and solutions, or find some great Android tablets apps and Android tablet games. We also have a brief guide on how to take a screenshot on the Nexus 7 and a guide to fixing common Nexus 7 problems.
The guide below starts out simple and the tips escalate in complexity.
How to rotate orientation
By default, your new Nexus 7 will be locked to portrait orientation. To switch to landscape just pull down the notification bar and then tap on the orientation icon next to the date. You can also unlock the orientation via Settings > Accessibility > Auto-rotate.
How to turn off system sounds
You’ll notice audio cues every time you tap on the screen of the Nexus 7, but you can turn them off. Go to Settings > Sound and uncheck the boxes next to Touch sounds and Screen lock sounds if desired.
How to turn off keyboard sounds
If you’re irritated by the sound feedback when you type on the keyboard you can always turn that off as well. Go to Settings > Language & input > Android keyboard settings and uncheck the box next to Sound on keypress.
How to use gestures with the notifications menu
There are a couple of handy gestures you can use when you pull the Notifications bar down from the top of your Nexus 7 screen. You can simply swipe them off to the right to get rid of individual notifications. You can also pinch to minimize some notifications and reverse the gesture to maximize them. If you find notifications that won’t disappear when you swipe right then you’ll need to go into the related app and check the settings menu to disable them.
How to access ‘Recent apps’
Press the button to the right of the Home button to get a pop up list of your most recently opened apps. You can tap on them to re-launch, swipe them off to the right to close them, and you can press and hold your finger on them to access more info or bring up the full app menu. The full app menu lets you choose to uninstall or clear data, among other things.
How to shop for apps
Once you have registered your Nexus 7 on your Google account, you can browse Google Play from anywhere and, as long as you are signed in, you can select apps to automatically download to your tablet. That means you can shop for new apps and games on your desktop at work, just don’t get caught doing it!
Need more storage space?
The Nexus 7 has limited storage so you should take advantage of cloud services. Start with Google Music where you can store up to 20,000 songs and stream them to your device. You can also use cloud storage services like Google Drive and Dropbox to store all kinds of files and share them easily and wirelessly between your laptop, smartphone, and other devices.
How to watch video and streaming via DLNA
The native Android video app is unlikely to support every video file or format that you want to play on your Nexus 7, especially if you have a movie collection on your computer that you want to play on your tablet. There are quite a few apps you might consider such as MX Player or DicePlayer.
You may also want to grab a DLNA app from the Google Play Store so you can wirelessly stream photos, audio, and video to and from your Nexus 7 to other DLNA devices such as your HDTV, PlayStation 3, or music system. We like Skifta because it’s super easy to use.
How to stay secure
You should go to Settings > Security and consider which precautions you want to take with your Nexus 7 carefully. You can choose a Screen lock method as a password, a pattern, face unlock, or just allow swipe to unlock. If you’re only using your Nexus 7 around the house and you don’t intend to keep anything sensitive on it then there’s no need to worry, but if you’ll be taking your tablet out and about then it’s wise to set a password.
You also have the extra secure option of encrypting the data on your tablet so it requires a PIN or password when it is powered on. This is not recommended for most people though.
Installing apps from outside Google Play
There is a risk involved in installing apps from outside Google Play, but there are plenty of legitimate alternative Android app stores. You may also find that certain apps are listed as incompatible with your device, but it is still possible to install them from other sources (sometimes called sideloading).
Apps are contained in packages called APK files and if you want to install them you need to go to Settings > Security > Unknown Sources and check the box. You can now download APK files from other app stores, directly from websites, or even email them or copy them across via something like Dropbox. Simply tap on the APK file on your Nexus 7 and you’ll be prompted to install with the usual information on permissions.
If you do intend to do this, it’s a good idea to install a top Android security app first to prevent any malware from sneaking onto your tablet.
How to install Flash
Flash is not supported by default on the Nexus 7 or by the Chrome browser, but you can get it working. First, you’ll want to install an alternative browser, Firefox is a good choice. Then you’ll need to grab the Adobe Flash Player APK from outside of Google Play. Here’s a link to get it at the XDA Developer’s Forum. You will need the “install from unknown sources” option enabled as described above. Once Flash is installed, you should be able to play Flash content on your Nexus 7. (You may have to request the desktop version of websites; you can do this in Firefox by entering the menu then Settings > More and check the box next to Request Desktop Site.)
How to use the camera
The Nexus 7 does have a front-facing camera, but it doesn’t have a dedicated camera app. Most people use an app called Camera Launcher for Nexus 7 by MoDaCo which you’ll find in Google Play. It’s completely free.
How to use Google Now
Your friendly digital assistant will try to offer you handy information. There are a couple of quick ways to activate Google Now. Hold any of the bottom menu buttons and drag your finger to the Google logo. You can launch it straight from the lock screen as well by once again sliding your finger to the Google logo.
Once Google Now is running, you can say “Google” or touch the microphone icon and then ask it questions or tell it to do things for you. There are lots of potential commands and requests like “Set alarm for 8.30” or “Search for Digital Trends” or “Is it going to rain today?” or “Navigate to Boda Bar in Edinburgh.” You can find a good list of potential Google Now voice commands at XDA Developer’s Forum.
How to disable pre-installed apps
Every device comes with apps pre-installed that you may not want, and if you don’t intend to use them then they could be unnecessarily draining your battery. You can’t uninstall them, but you can ‘disable’ them. Go to Settings > Apps and swipe to the All tab to find the app you want to disable. Tap on the app, select ‘disable,’ then click OK. The app will hibernate and the icon will be removed from your home screen and the app drawer.
If you find that you want to re-activate it for any reason, just go back to Settings > Apps, swipe to All, then scroll to the bottom to find disabled apps.
More Nexus 7 tips
If you want to find more basic Nexus 7 tips, then you should go to Google Play and search for the Nexus 7 Guidebook by Google in Play Books. It’s completely free and worth a look.
If you have any more useful Nexus 7 tricks or handy tips of your own to suggest then please post a comment and share them.