Monday 11 November 2013

How to Trick out the new Nexus 7 FHD with the Best Apps

Image Stolen from Google Play

So what are the best apps and peripherals you can get for the new Nexus 7 FHD? Here are some of the best apps and the reasons why you should get them. All of the below are my opinions alone and may not be relevant to everyone. I also tend to steer clear of most games and the apps which want the craziest permissions so I may have missed some of your favorites.

A bit about the Nexus 7 (2013)

Aside from Google's insane privacy policy and their habit of stealing all your personal information, the Nexus 7 is pretty dang awesome. I instantly bought the 4G version in 32G as soon as it came out on Google Play. I'm an owner of the original Nexus 7 and I still think that one was a better design physically. One of the few things I miss on the new Nexus 7 is the soft rubber backing of the other. In fact, I bought a case for the new Nexus 7 (Poetic Slimline) just so I wouldn't have to feel the slick plastic back of the new one. I kind of hate plastic.

While the physical design might not feel as cool or be as easy to use (the old one I could wield one-handed and use all controls. The new one you find yourself accidentally hitting buttons because it's a bit longer); it more than makes up for this by being a bad-ass when it comes to hardware and being even lighter than the original.

There is now some serious competition for the Nexus 7 from the Apple Ipad Mini with Retina and the new Ipad Air. However, in physical design, I still think the Nexus 7 is the winner. Also, for the price, it's unbeatable. If you don't care about the price, Ipad might be the way to go.

Some of the coolest new features of the Nexus 7 FHD:

The most awesome new feature is probably the fantastic screen at a ridiculous pixels per inch. It looks better than my TV, but the screen is still too small to fully enjoy movies and it's hard to share it with family. If you get a hdmi slimport adapter and hook it up to a TV or use Miracast/Chromecast you could probably solve this issue but I can't see the logic in paying 25$ for a movie which will nerf your too small storage on the Nexus when you could just buy the DVD instead. I still did buy one movie and it looks awesome.

Some of the screen colors did look a little weird to me, but I quickly forgot it in the face of overall awesomeness. You can quickly pick out details in films and pictures you couldn't see before on the old Nexus 7 or even my TV or laptop. Very cool.

The dual speakers improve the sound a lot. I always hook up Bose headphones, but when you want to share stuff or it's not practical to wear headphones, the speakers are a heck of a lot better than the original.

Tiny design makes the Nexus 7 (2013) just as portable as the original and even lighter. When I bang it against a table I can hear the innards rattling around which is a bit disappointing (having dropped the original a few times with no problem), but so far I haven't managed to break the thing.

Although the Nexus 7 is probably one of the lightest and coolest tablets around, I still find my hand getting tired after reading a book on it for long hours. I still prefer real books. In essence, this is a luxury machine. I prefer radio for music, laptops for computer stuff, DVDs for movies, TVs for TVs, and books for books. That said, throwing in all of this with internet and portability makes a pretty cool combination.

Camera on the back so you can take photos and scan QR codes. Nice. Only thing is, Google can steal all your photos at the pinch of a hat so I never take any personal photos. With location access, they can also probably figure out where you live. Scary.

Peripherals, What you Need and What you Don't:

Micro USB to USB Standard: I never use this. However, it does let you plug a keyboard, mouse, or anything else you want into the Nexus 7. I think this is pretty awesome. I'm just kicking myself for not getting a longer and more expensive cord. I bought a tiny one on Ebay for like 20 cents, but it still works and is pretty cool.

Good Headphones: Turn your mediocre speakers into Bose surround sound. Buy songs on Itunes, put them in a regular folder on your laptop, and then transfer them to Music on your Nexus 7. Enjoy.

2 meter Audio Line: Just a standard inl-line of high quality. Plug it into speakers to get great sound out of your device, or to watch a movie with great sound if you can get the image off your Nexus onto your HD TV. I can't, so don't ask me how (Miracast, Chromecast, Slimport to HDMI, or projectors).

Cases: I bought the Poetic Slimline. It does just about nothing, but it's a nice case and feels cooler than the smooth plastic backing of the Nexus 7. I also bought a cheap, universal 7 inch tablet case with a zipper. In my opinion this is the best buy ever because it's total protection, portability with handles, and it keeps out all the dust at work until I need the device. I protected my original nexus with 'only' one of these things. Remember to unpackage the thing on the shelf and check if the Nexus fits before buying one (within applicable laws, of course).

YOU DON'T NEED: A screen protector. I bought one and it was crap. Got a ton of dust on it, and basically it's just a piece of platic which makes your screen look ugly and unresponsive. Total waste of money in my opinion. Plus, if you're getting an awesome HD screen for a rock bottom price, you might as well enjoy it before it outdates itself.

YOU DON'T NEED: A stylus. Styluses are complete junk unless you're an artist. If you're an artist, I can't say whether it's useful or not. I bought like ten from Ebay and they don't really work. Okay, I only paid 20 cents for them, but still. Dang it, if you're buying a touch screen it's so you can use your greasy fingers on it. Go for it, be happy.

Stuff it Still Needs:

Removable SD cards, infinite storage, Windows and Apple software you can toggle off between Android, HDMI port, holograms, screen sharing with everything, lighter and smaller, better construction materials, and AI.

Immoral Data Providers:

Okay, here's the thing. All the cellular providers are unethical and want your money. They will absolutely, no question, lie to you and try to steal your money. Because you signed a contract, they can do this.

If you have any device with a data connection, never use that data until you can confirm what exactly you're paying for it. Search the web for hours, contact the customer support, I don't care. 

I cite two examples to prove my point.

1. Bell: I hooked up my tablet at Bell and they quoted me a price of 5$ -30$ for the amount of data I would use. Guaranteed. I used that amount and they charged me 400$ which they soon dropped when I made it abundantly clear they'd messed up my charges. I cancelled my plan with Bell.

2. Telus: The guy at the store guaranteed me 5$ to 30$ for the amount of data I would use. I asked him multiple times, and he assured me each time. I decided not to trust him because I'm not that stupid anymore. I checked around the net and soon found out I was being charged 100 times the price I was quoted. If I'd kept using my tablet like last time I would have incurred a bill in excess of 1,000$. Who knows if they'd be kind enough to give it back. I contacted Telus, was directed to IT, and the guy explained how they'd messed up my plan and what to do to fix it. I went into internal settings and mucked about. He mucked about on his side. I now pay the proper price for my data. Every day, I check how much I'm being billed for my data just to make sure.

Thank you Telus IT guy. You are awesome.

Moral of the two stories: Cell Phone companies don't need to have customer service. You signed a contract saying you'd pay whatever they want. The only thing you can do is cancel, or make dead sure you're going to pay what they quoted you. Use every tool at your disposal to do so: reviews, internet how-tos, IT departments, online bill checkers, whatever.

The Apps:

Okay, this was the whole point of the article, right? Sorry to get so sidetracked. Here are some of the cool apps I use along with the reasons why I use them:

 Wattpad: I don't really use this App anymore, but I had it on the old Nexus and you could check out some pretty cool stories from indie authors. If you like writing, might be worth a look.

Pocket: I don't use it much, but it's dang cool. Save websites for offline reading. Total awesomness.

AVG Antivirus: I hear Avast Antivirus is better, but I figure some antivirus is better than none and I use AVG on my desktop. I read somewhere Android is super vulnerable to hacks and it's actually surprised me I haven't got a virus which has wiped out all my stuff yet. Knock on wood.

Google Translate: Seems like a totally awesome idea, but I don't actually use it. Works the best with internet, but I think you can download some offline speech packages, too.

Phonto: This I use for my RPG mucking about. I'll get to that later. Normal people may safely ignore this App.

Hi-Q Sound Recorder Paid: I started out with the free one, but quickly found this app so awesome that I paid for the full version. Basically you can record anything you want in super high quality or toggled how you like. You can stop, pause, rename, and reorganize. Everything is in MP3 and you can stick it on your computer. Clean interface. What more do you want? 

The Weather Network: Basically, tells you the weather. Surprisingly helpful.

Chrome: Pre-installed, but dead useful with internet. The one thing I hate about it are the ads, so I use Firefox as well.

Firefox: Like a slower version of Chrome but with tons of features like ABP so you get no ads. I hate ads.

Data On-Off (Cellular Toggle): A bunch of university students made a free app which can toggle on and off your cellular connection. This is one of the most awesome apps ever. Thanks to those who created it. Since going over your data limit costs hundreds/millions of dollars, being able to kill your internet connection in half a second is dead useful. I use this thing all the time.

Dice Bag: Best dice rolling app. If you don't need to roll dice for RPGs, don't bother.

RealCalc Premium: This is a totally awesome calculator app I use all the time. It has a load of cool functions like conversions as well as all the standard features. Well, well, worth it.

Google Currents: My data-hogging and mostly useless 'news' app. It's the one I started with so I've kept it. It's quite likely there's a better one out there and most certainly one which uses less data. In fact, I tend to just look up news unless I'm over wifi.

Kindle: As far as I'm concerned, the best e-book app around. If you intend to read anything on your tablet, I would recommend getting this app. In fact, there are a number of free titles as well. If you're like me, you do all your reading with real books. I've had A Game of Thrones on my tablet for a few months and still haven't finished it, whereas normally I'd finish a book in a week. That said, if you have your tablet and not a book, it's good to kill time with a good read.

My Data Manager: The new Nexus 7 already has a built in data monitor in settings. This is awesome. However, having two layers of data checking seemed to make sense so I still installed my old data manager. Shows cool pie charts of how much data you used by any time frame and what was using that data. Very good to have, given overage charges.

Tune In Radio Pro: Basically, 80,000 radio stations streamed over the internet. With the premium version you can record your favorites. I found an 80's station which played 7 songs I knew in a row before I had to cut the recorder for supper. Very cool.

Google Pre-installed: Maps, Music, Youtube, Gmail, Chrome, Movies, Settings, Camera, Etc.: Some of these are highly useful, others I barely use, and some are pretty much useless. Since you get all these anyway, why review them?

Wikipedia: Seems cool, but I never use it.

Outlook: I had all my e-mails on hotmail which was turned into Outlook. Makes it dead easy for people to hack all your e-mails and personal information in one go. On the other hand, saves me a few seconds of logging into separate accounts to check all my e-mails.

Crappier Apps (A.K.A. Not on my Home Screen)

Minecraft PE: Probably the best game on Google Play. I haven't bothered to really play it on the new Nexus 7, but I did hack a few Survival Worlds on the original Google Nexus and give myself outrageous stuff while simultaneously terraforming a 'purist' unhacked world. Great for impressing little kids or getting them to steal your tablet.

Adobe Reader: Dead useful for PDFs and stuff. Really useful even though it's not on the home screen.

Clock: Alarms for when I have to get up for work. Cool.

Nes.emu: Play Mario. Nice. I find the controls a real pain, but if you happen to have a nice controller, it could be good.

Skype: Could be cool. I never use it.

Punch Quest: I had a lot of fun with this one on my old tablet, but haven't used it at all with the new one. It's a mindless, button-mashing video game with monsters in it.

This concludes the general-use article. The rest of this article is probably only relevent to RPG gamers. If you are one, read on below:

RPG Stuff with Nexus 7 FHD:

Okay, here's some cool stuff you can do. In fact, it's quite likely you can do this on a phone or Ipad but it might take more time. Not really sure.

A. Get Phonto for free. This allows you to put text on pictures. Get Dice Bag for free. This allows you to roll dice of all kinds on your tablet. Get Hi-Q for free to record sounds of dice rolls you can play while using the Dice Bag app. Yeah, I know it's overkill, but so what? Lastly, get Kindle and Challenger RPG or a free Challenger download and something to read it like Adobe.

B. Now that you have all your tech, head over to on your browser and download the Challenger RPG character sheet v. 3 or a character sheet for your favorite RPG system. I have a couple, actually.

C. Take a screenshot of the character sheet and crop/screenshot it again until it fits most of all the screen of Phonto. I.e. tinker with the images until you get your character sheet just how you want it. You can take a screenshot in android by holding the down volume and power button simultaneously. Dead useful for all kinds of stuff.

D. Load your perfect character sheet from picture Gallery into Phonto and then insert text of any size and font you want to create your character. Use Kindle or your RPG system download to get access to the rules. I would recommend not writing out everything because this would take forever. Instead, just put enough to help you remember key things about your character.

E. When you're sure your character is done, save the Phonto image to your gallery. Voila, you have a character and all the tools to play an RPG game on your tablet! If you ever need to edit your character, just open the image in Phonto and add stuff. If you run out of room, you can use some kind of blank sheet or whatever to write additional info in a new picture. That, or some kind of note-taking app etc.

F. Laugh evilly and play RPGs on your tablet. I would like to point out that having a physical book, real character sheets, and real dice is a lot faster and more fun. So much for high technology. That said, it works in a pinch and it's pretty funny to boot.

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed this article!

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