Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Day in the Life with Android (Part 5)

This is Part 5 (albeit published much later than I had originally anticipated) in my continuing series in which I share how I use my Google/ASUS Nexus 7 tablet on a day-to-day basis. Part 1 covers my hardware accessories and business apps; Part 2 focuses on a variety of utilities; Part 3 deals with social media and related apps as well as ebook readers; and in Part 4 I review most of what is left -- a combination of utilities, news apps, and apps that didn't fit in the previous three posts, excluding audio-video and related apps, which I have reserved for this post.

As I mentioned in the previous entry in this series: "...what would an Android device be without at least a few games, some tunes, and a movie or two."

In Part 2 I talked about "cloud storage" services -- necessary because the Nexus 7's storage capacity is limited and the device has no card slot. [Note: If you read Part 2 previously, please read the update I posted on 02/26/2013 regarding a strong warning about Bitcasa cloud storage; and in place of Bitcasa, I have recommended Box cloud storage.]

But what do you do when you have no wireless access to those cloud storage services, and yet you need access to your documents and spreadsheets, as well as books, music, and movies, say, for that long plane ride, or the hotel stay where there is no free wireless?

You use the Nexus Media Importer app and a micro USB On-the-Go (OTG) cable. The Nexus Media Importer uses the N7's micro USB port, the same port used for charging the device. Just as the app says, this is for importing (and streaming) to the N7 only. You cannot move/save files from the N7 to the USB device.

The cable needed must be described as a "Micro USB OTG to USB 2.0 Adapter." The one I use (pictured here) is the T & S Electronics Micro USB OTG Cable, which cost $10.00 on Amazon. An online search, even on Amazon, will find cheaper cables, but I went with this one because of its design, the lifetime warranty, and because the company is located in the US (Los Angeles).

As with the Google Chrome browser, or all Google apps for that matter, Google Calendar syncs across all devices. If I set up a calendar appointment on my PC, it shows up on the N7, and vice versa. When I schedule an appointment, I always set up reminders to be sent to me via email and the Android notification bar.

If you keep up on tech news then you may have heard about the iPhone fiasco when Apple decided to do away with Google Maps and go with their own map app. (The fiasco cost a couple execs their jobs at Apple!) I recall reading an alert put out by the Australian travel bureau, I believe it was, warning tourists that an iPhone map error could be detrimental to travelers. With Google Maps, I can map out my destination, including driving directions, and then do a screenshot1 of each so that I have access to the information on the N7 when there is no wifi available, like in the car.

ESPN's ScoreCenter for Android is ideal for tracking favorite sports and teams. I'm not much for sports, but I do follow a few college football teams, and local NFL and MLB teams. With ScoreCenter, you can track a multitude of sports, from Autoracing to MMA, and even Cricket! The app's "holo" design has recently been updated for the Nexus 7 and looks great. You can set up to receive notifications after each inning or quarter, for example, and receive news notifications for breaking sports stories.


I have the Google Play Music Manager installed on my PC. Google provides free cloud storage for thousands of my songs. All I have to do is point the Music Manager to the folder on my PC that contains my iTunes songs and podcasts, my Amazon MP3s, etc., and whenever a new file is added to that folder, the Music Manager will automatically upload it to my Google Play Music Library. How cool is that!

The Google Play music store also offers a "Free Song of the Day" -- though it's actually more like every three days.

The Google Play Music app allows me to play an individual song, shuffle my library, and access my playlists on the N7. An equalizer can be activated for each song as well (click on the 3 dots in the top right corner of the screen). There are better equalizer apps available, but from what I have read in the reviews, they all seem to not work properly under the Android Jelly Bean OS. So stick with the built-in equalizer until developers figure out the issue with JB.

I've seen a few complaints about the speakers in the N7, but I think they are fairly impressive given the size and slimness of the device. But, since music is all about the speakers, I added a Monster ClarityHD Bluetooth Wireless Speaker to my Nexus 7 hardware:

And if, for some reason, you can't get the Bluetooth to work properly, just plug in a dual 3.5mm stereo cable into the N7's earphone jack and the speaker's audio-in jack, and you'll be good to go.

One more point to keep in mind: this music app -- and the music/radio apps that follow -- will all play music in the background while you work on documents, read and respond to your email, and most other activities on the N7.

The first app pictured here is TuneIn Radio Pro: for online radio streaming, be it music, sports, news, or whatever is streaming from the multitude of radio stations available via this app. Just the other day I was listening to a local indie station, S*ALT (aka Save Alternative) that was playing a lengthy set of songs by a band called Pinback. This app also allows you to record the music being played, and you can even schedule the recording in advance. The second app, XiaaLive Pro, differs in that you can search and stream specific songs; I haven't used this app as much as TuneIn.


The Google Play Movies app, just like Google Play Books, comes with the N7, but only works for movies obtained through the Google Play store. When I want to watch Tori Amos perform on The Artists Den (mp4) or Nirvana's landmark "Nevermind" video (flv) or those restored Fleischer Studios' original Superman cartoons (mp4), I turn to this app:

MX Player is a multi-purpose video player. It has played every video format that I have thrown at it, at least so far. There is a "Pro" version that costs $5.70 and is add-free, but so far I've been satisfied with the free app.

Most DVD purchases now come with a digital copy of the movie; typically, these digital copies can be downloaded onto one computer and one mobile device. Flixster is one of these online digital movie services, which allows me to access my Flixster online digital movies on the N7.

A Day in the Life with Android: Games
Continued in Part 6


1. A screenshot can be made of absolutely any screen on the Nexus 7. To snap a screenshot simply hold down the the power button and the volume down button at the same time. That's it. The screenshot will be saved in the N7's Gallery. And, if you have Dropbox installed as well (and wifi turned on), the screenshot will automatically be uploaded to Dropbox and saved in a folder entitled "Camera Uploads."

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