21 November 2013

Google Nexus 5 tips and tricks

Google's latest and greatest handset is with us, pre-loaded with Android 4.4 KitKat - the most advanced version of the mobile OS yet. As ever, a new phone means a dazzling array of unique features to get your head around, many of which aren't as easy to fathom as you might expect.

Google Nexus 5 tips and tricks
But fear not! We're on hand to provide you with a handy rundown of 25 of the best tips, hints and tricks hidden inside the sleek exterior of your shiny new Nexus 5.

1. Google Nexus 5 tips and tricks - Access Google Now with nothing but your voice

Apple's Siri and Google Now have been with us for a while, but voice control continues to develop at a rapid pace. Motorola's Moto X has an "always listening" system, which allows you to execute commands without having to lift your phone from the table, and Google has incorporated a similar degree of functionality in the Nexus 5.

There are caveats, however -- you have to be on the home screen and your voice control language has to be set to "US English" rather than "UK English". To enable this, go to Settings > Language & Input > Voice Search, and select the "Language" option. Tap "English" and then English (US). Now, drop back to the home screen and utter the phrase "OK Google", and voice search will activate automatically.

2. Google Nexus 5 tips and tricks - Place a widget on your home screen

Google has changed the way in which widgets are deployed in Android 4.4 - the "Widgets" section of the App Drawer has been removed, and now you can only add them by long-pressing on your home screen. You'll see the Widgets box in the middle of the screen.

3. Google Nexus 5 tips and tricks - Access quick settings

Smart phones are so packed with features that keeping on top of them can sometimes be a headache, which is why you need to gain access to your settings with as little fuss as possible. With Android, all you need to do is drag two fingers down from the top of the screen -- instead of seeing the notifications area, you'll see a wealth of toggles for features such as Wi-Fi, Brightness, Bluetooth and Location settings.

4. Google Nexus 5 tips and tricks - Add widgets to your lock screen

Widgets aren't just restricted to your home screens in Android anymore -- you can add them to your lock screen as well. Go to Settings > Security, and make sure Enable Widgets is ticked. On your lock screen, swipe from left to right and tap the "plus" icon. You can add widgets related to a wide range of apps, including email, Google+ and your calendar.

5. Google Nexus 5 tips and tricks - Print a document wirelessly

Cloud printing is one of the big additions in Android 4.4, and makes it easy to get hard copies of documents sent to you via email or other methods. Cloud printing is enabled by default, but you'll obviously need a compatible printer to perform this wireless magic. If you do happen to have one to hand, then you'll be able to check the print cartridge toner levels and even control two-sided printing, all from your blower.

6. Google Nexus 5 tips and tricks - Install non-market apps and games

While Apple is uncomfortable with its customers installing apps which aren't on the App Store, Google is a little more accommodating. Drop into Settings > Security, and tick the box "Unknown Sources". Now you can download apk files and install them without having to use the Google Play market, but be aware that this carries risks -- the content you install could potentially be harmful to your phone.

7. Google Nexus 5 tips and tricks - Personalise your phone for additional peace of mind

If you lost your phone today then how would an honest soul be able to return it to you, should it be found? If you have a lockscreen security pattern then said Good Samaritan wouldn't be able to ascertain your details or get in touch -- which is why putting some brief info on the lockscreen is such a good idea. Go to Settings > Security > Owner Info. Tick "Show owner info on lock screen" and then insert some details -- popping in your Twitter handle is a good idea, as then if anyone picks up your lost phone then they will be able to get in touch without having to know your address or phone number.

8. Google Nexus 5 tips and tricks - Backup your data and settings

Buying a phone used to mean tirelessly porting over your settings and content from your old blower to your new one, but since the arrival of smart phones, this laborious process has mercifully become a thing of the past.

If you've already taken advantage of Android's backup features then when you fire up the Nexus 5 for the first time you'll be able to restore all of your content and apps quickly and easily. If you haven't, then go to Settings > Backup & Reset, and tick "Back up my data" and "Automatic Restore". The first option ensures that all of your settings are stored in the cloud, while the second allows you to retain app-relevant data so that if you have to reinstall something, all the settings will be remembered.

9. Google Nexus 5 tips and tricks - Exit and enter Immersive mode

Immersive mode is another Android 4.4 introduction, and is a fancy way of saying "Full Screen". During relevant apps -- such as Google Play Books and Google Play Movies -- Android 4.4 will automatically expand the image to fill the entire screen, hiding elements like the notifications bar and other menus. To exit the mode, simply tap the screen -- simple!

10. Google Nexus 5 tips and tricks - Find out what's been draining your battery

There's nothing more annoying than charging your phone up in the morning only to discover that it's gasping for a recharge by dinner time. Thankfully, Android allows you to see a detailed breakdown of what's been consuming juice, allowing you to switch off or uninstall problematic programs. Simply access Quick Settings and tap the Battery tile.

11. Google Nexus 5 tips and tricks - Turn your eBook into an audio book

There are dedicated bookworms out there who are buying novels in triplicate -- the actual physical book, the eBook and the audio book -- but if you have a Nexus 5 then you don't need to go to such extreme lengths.

Android accessibility options allow you to turn all on-screen text into speech, allowing you to transform your eBook download into an audio novel. Go to Settings > Accessibility and switch "Talk Back" on. When you're in Google Play Books, open the settings menu and make sure "Automatically read aloud" is ticked.

You'll also want to ensure that "High-quality voice" is turned on as well, otherwise the speech sounds a little too robotic.

12. Google Nexus 5 tips and tricks - Build a cloud-based music library

Google Music allows you to upload 20,000 of your own songs for free, and access them from the Web or any Android device. That means you can potentially have your entire record collection at your fingertips without having to clog up your handset's internal memory -- a prime concern with the Nexus 5, with the base model limited to 16GB and lacking a microSD card slot. To do this, you'll need to actually upload your songs using a computer and Google Music Manager application, and it's recommended you only stream audio if you have a contract with unlimited data.

13. Google Nexus 5 tips and tricks - Unlock your phone using your face

Face Unlock made its debut with the Galaxy Nexus and remains one of Android's most amusing features. As Google itself points out, it's not the most robust of security measures, but being able to unlock your phone just by looking at it is undeniably cool. To enable, go to Settings > Security > Screen lock and then select Face Unlock.

14. Google Nexus 5 tips and tricks - Enable a live wallpaper

With Apple introducing "dynamic" wallpapers in iOS 7, it's somewhat curious that Google has largely relegated Live Wallpapers to the background in 4.4. There's only one wallpaper included -- Phase Beam -- and it's buried deep within the wallpapers menu. There are plenty of other live wallpapers on the Google Play store though, so download a few to remind your iPhone-owning mates who had this feature first.

15. Google Nexus 5 tips and tricks - Disable SMS messaging in Hangouts

With Android 4.4, Google has folded SMS messaging into its Hangouts messaging service, which means all of your communications are in one place. This might not be to everyone's satisfaction, however, so it's good to know that you can revert back if you wish to. Open Hangouts and go to Settings. You'll see "Default SMS app", which will be configured to Hangouts by default. Simply tap this and select your third-party SMS app -- which you'll have to download from the Google Play market, as no alternatives are installed. 8SMS and Handscent are both worthy substitutes.

16. Google Nexus 5 tips and tricks - Tell the world how you feel in Google Hangouts

If you do decide to stick with Hangouts, then you may find it a useful tool when it comes to keeping in touch with friends and relatives. You can even set emotions which indicate how you're feeling at any given time -- a handy feature if you're in a grumpy mood and don't want to be disturbed. Simply tap the menu icon (the three dots in the top-right corner) and select your general mood.

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17. Google Nexus 5 tips and tricks - Find out how much data you've used

If you're subject to a fair-usage data policy on your contract then you'll want to keep an eye on the amount of megabytes you're eating through on a daily basis. Thankfully, Android offers the chance to monitor your data consumption and even set alerts which tell you when you're nearing your limit. You can find all of this in Settings > Data usage.

18. Google Nexus 5 tips and tricks - Create a folder on your home screen

If you're the kind of mobile user who craves order, then you'll want to sort your apps into handy folders to make it easier to track them down in a rush. Simply long-press any app icon and then hover it over another to create the folder. You can then give this selection of apps a unique name by tapping the folder and then selecting the "Unnamed Folder" text.

19. Google Nexus 5 tips and tricks - Take a screenshot and record your screen

You can grab a quick snap of your Nexus 5's screen by holding the Volume Down and Power buttons at the same time, but Android 4.4 offers another trick -- albeit with the assistance of a third-party application. By downloading Screen Record, you can capture your screen activity in video form -- handy for developers who want to create promotional videos of their programs, or for those times when you need to troubleshoot an issue by collecting visual evidence.

20. Google Nexus 5 tips and tricks - Compare your video game prowess with a friend

Google has introduced its Play Games portal with very little fanfare when 4.3 was launched, but it's certainly worth a closer look in 4.4. Taking cues from Xbox Live and Apple's Game Center service, it allows you to track your scores and achievements in compatible games and compare your best attempts with friends and Google+ contacts.

21. Google Nexus 5 tips and tricks - Track your steps

If you're keen to keep tabs on your level of fitness then the Nexus 5 is the perfect phone for you. The handset's internal tech can detect how many steps you've taken, and therefore judge how many calories you've burned off. Simply download Moves from the Google Play store and stride confidently out of that front door.

22. Google Nexus 5 tips and tricks - Enable closed captions in video playback

Watching a movie on the tube isn't as much fun when you can't hear the dialogue, so thank your lucky stars for Android 4.4's support for closed captions during film playback. Go to Settings > Accessibility > Captions, and switch them on. You can even adjust the text size and select the text and background colour.

23. Google Nexus 5 tips and tricks - Turn your phone into a digital photo frame when charging

Our phones spend a lot of time plugged into the wall, largely because they contain so much cutting-edge tech that their batteries require a top-up every single day. Thankfully, with Android you can make this process a little more interesting by enabling "Daydream" mode. This can either be a clock, a news-feed item or a selection of your photos. To switch this mode on, go to Settings > Display > Daydream, and then pick your preferred choice. You can also tell the phone to daydream only when docked, or when on charge.

24. Google Nexus 5 tips and tricks - Turn your phone into a portable Wi-Fi hotspot

If you've got a tablet or laptop and you want to use it out of the house, you can use your Nexus 5 as a portable fountain of wireless goodness -- thus removing the need to find an open hotspot. Go to Settings and tap "More", and then select Tethering and Portable Hotspot. Tick the Portable Hotspot option and selection "Set up" to configure a password -- you don't want anyone else sharing your valuable bandwidth, after all.

25. Google Nexus 5 tips and tricks - Zoom in for additional detail

Android's magnification capability is intended to make things easier for those with poor eyesight, but it has uses for those who don't suffer from visual issues. You can zoom in to see on-screen images in greater detail by triple-tapping the display with your finger. It's also possible to enlarge what's under your finger by triple-tapping and then holding your digit on the screen, and then dragging it around. To switch on this mode, go to Settings > Accessibility > Magnification gestures.

26. Google Nexus 5 tips and tricks - Take better photos

By now everyone with a Nexus 5 has made the update to Android 4.4.1 or 4.4.2 so this tip isn't as big a deal as it might have been a couple of months ago. The truth is that, after the incremental updates, Google made some major improvements to the performance of the Nexus 5's camera. But you can still make it even better. Simply set your default mode to HDR+ and watch your contrasts, motion blur and low-light performance increase. There's really very little reason not to be taking all of your photos in HDR+ mode.

Just bring up the touch interface in the camera app, and turn on HDR+.

27. Google Nexus 5 tips and tricks - Ditch Hangouts

Sure, Google likes to force things down our throats, like practically needing a Google+ account just to get out of bed in the morning, but that doesn't mean that you have to jump aboard the Hangouts train just because Google wants you to. So, if you tried it out and kinda just got stuck with Hangouts but don't really like the functionality (there's a few things still not to like), then simply install another messaging app that you actually like or already use and substitute that as the default messaging app.

All you need to do is download the app you want, then go to Settings and More and you'll see the Default SMS App heading. Make your choice from whatever SMS apps you have on your phone.

28. Google Nexus 5 tips and tricks - Turn off Google Now

I think Google Now is kinda cool, but it has absolutely no use value for me as I traverse the few streets between my penthouse apartment and the AndroidPIT mansion. Fortunately I know both addresses and I've even managed to figure out how to get between them quickly. I already have the temperature on my home screen and I rarely take flights or have packages arriving that I need to coordinate myself with. And sadly, my stock portfolio is about as concrete as that penthouse apartment and the mansion I work in. So if you don't actually use Google Now, just turn it off and save yourself some battery juice and free up that left hand home screen for something you do use.

Just go to the gray Google Settings app in the app drawer, hit Search and turn the Google Now switch off.

29. Google Nexus 5 tips and tricks - Increase performance

The Nexus 5 is already a bit of a beast when it comes to raw processing power, but there's still more you can do to improve your Nexus 5's performance even further. The first and most obvious of these is to try out the ART runtime option that is still an experimental feature that Google understood would greatly benefit many users out there who simply want the absolute fastest performance possible, even if it means some apps won't work properly. ART runtime is coming eventually anyway, as Dalvik ages ungracefully. Basically ART pre-compiles apps, so they launch faster once you've launched them for the first time. The speed boost is significant, even if some popular apps like WhatsApp won't work on the new system yet.

Just enable Developer Options by repeatedly tapping the build number in Settings > About Phone > Build Number until Developer Options are enabled. Then go into them and select ART as the default runtime, reboot and see what you think.

30. Google Nexus 5 tips and tricks - Make use of Google's integration

Even if you don't much like or use Google Now, that doesn't mean Google's presence is not still everywhere to be found in the Nexus 5 experience. From the persistent voice command search bar on the home screens to the smart dialer that integrates a search function and auto-complete, Google is intertwined in KitKat on the Nexus 5 like nobody's business. Seeing this is actually a very powerful tool (and only a little scary) you may as well get on board and put it to good use. The more you learn about Google's integrated services they quicker and easier your Nexus 5 experience will become.

In Google Maps, just swipe up from the bottom on an address search result to get contact details and more for that location.

Make sure your Google Search settings are also set to include apps, contacts, music etc if you want those results to show up in your Google searches. Just go to the gray Google Settings app in the app drawer, hit Search and then Phone Search and make your choices.

As long as the default language is set to US English, you can use Google's voice search on any home screen or within Google Now. Just say ''OK Google'' and search away. With an American accent if you don't have one by birth.

From the default dialer screen (the one with your last calls and frequent contacts), just type your search terms in the panel at the very top. Google will search local content and return results right in the dialer.

5 More Nexus 5 Battery Life Tips And Tricks

1. Enable Android Runtime (ART)

Enabling Android Runtime will improve battery life. This is because ART fundamentally changes the process of how apps are opened.

ART will cause apps to take up 10 to 20 percent more space on your on-board storage, but allow them to open faster. Also, thanks to the diminished processing power it requires to open app, enabling ART will increase your battery life as well.

Remember that Google does not consider the Android Runtime as ready for the masses, which is why it is not enabled by default on the Nexus 5. Also, please note that the International Business Times is not responsible for any damage that tinkering with your phone may cause.

To enable ART on your Nexus 5: Settings > About Phone, then tap "Build Number" 7 times. Then back out and go into the new settings sub-menu that appears, Developer Options, and select ART instead of the Dalvik Runtime.

2. Reduce The Time Before The Screen Goes To Sleep

Most Nexus 5 users have found that the main feature affecting battery life on the Nexus 5 is its big, beautiful display. Go into Settings > Display > Sleep and reduce the time before your display automatically dims to as low as you are comfortable with – 30 seconds for best results. It is also a good practice to press the power button when you are not using your Nexus 5, instead of waiting for the phone to sleep automatically.

3. Updated to Android 4.4.2 (KitKat)? Do A Factory Restore

As much of a hassle as it can be on a phone you have adjusted perfectly to your liking, if you received an over-the-air update from Google that bumped your Nexus 5 to Android 4.4 KitKat or 4.4.1 to the newest build of Android 4.4.2, it might be a good idea to do a factory restore.

Taking the OTA update caused bugs for some users, and may cause your Nexus 5 to incorrectly report how much battery life it has remaining. Be forewarned that a factory restore will erase everything on your phone, including the on-board storage, so make sure your photos have been backed up with Google Plus beforehand.

To do a factory restore, navigate to Settings > Backup & reset > Factory data reset to restore your Nexus 5 to factory-shipped freshness. Some users have also reported that a Nexus 5 factory reset fixed GPS issues and other bugs in addition to improving battery life.

4. Turn Location Reporting And History Off

In addition to using your GPS, Android collects location data from nearby Wi-Fi routers. Scanning for Wi-Fi this way uses up battery life on your Nexus 5 (or any Android device), but allows Google to charge more money for advertising based on your location.

To turn off location reporting, go into Settings > Location > Google Location Reporting and turn both Location Reporting and Location History off. Please note that this will also cause Find My Android to no longer be able to track your Nexus 5 should it be stolen or misplaced, so use this tip at your own discretion.

5. Use ‘Airplane Mode’ In Poor Coverage Areas

When a smartphone is in a bad coverage area, it uses up a lot of battery power as it attempts to scan the area for signal. If you are in an area where you get poor or no connection anyways, like traveling underground on a subway, put your Nexus 5 in Airplane Mode to save your battery.

Some other good ways to improve battery life include turning off your Nexus 5’s haptic feedback. It uses up battery to run the haptic motor every time you tap, so turn this feature off for longer life.

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