Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tech Tuesday - Galaxy Nexus Features - Galaxy Nexus Series - Part 4

This is Part 4 in my Galaxy Nexus Series of Tech Tuesday blog posts.
In this post I will look at some of the basic features of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

At the moment my Samsung Galaxy Nexus is running version 4.0.1 of the Android platform (also known as Ice Cream Sandwich - don't you love these codenames?). The most recent version of Ice Cream Sandwich is 4.0.4, but my Telstra Samsung Galaxy Nexus has not yet received the update. My brother has received the update on his Android device and believes version 4.0.4 is a lot faster and smoother to use.

The technical specifications for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus are available here at the Samsung web site.

What follows is a short overview of some of the basic features I like about my Samsung Galaxy Nexus. I have also included links to some official YouTube videos which demonstrate these features.

Home screens

  • There are five home screens in total. YouTube Video: Galaxy Nexus: Make Yourself at Home.
  • You can swipe left and right to reach the other home screens. 
  • App icons, shortcuts and widgets on can be added to each home screen. 
  • You can easily remove app and shortcut icons, folders and widgets by tapping and holding the icon/folder and dragging it to the 'remove' bar which appears at the top of the screen below the notifications bar. 
  • You can drag and drop icons to group apps and shortcuts into relevant folders. YouTube video: Galaxy Nexus: Create a Folder
  • You can set your own wallpaper. The wallpaper stretches across all five home screens. A selection of wallpapers are provided or you can make your own using an image from your gallery. YouTube Video: Galaxy Nexus: Change Wallpaper
  • The customizable favourites tray is visible across all home screens. YouTube Video: Galaxy Nexus: Customize Favorites Tray
  • The Back Button takes you back one screen (e.g. if you are in the Google Play store looking at the 'My apps' screen you can press the back button to return to the main Google Play store screen). 
  • The Home Button returns you to the main home screen. 
  • The Recent Apps Button shows a list of all currently open apps. This allows you to easily switch between apps. YouTube Video: Galaxy Nexus: Simple Multi-tasking
  • Notifications from apps appear in the notifications bar. 
  • The All Apps launcher brings up an icon list of all installed apps and widgets. Tap and hold an app icon or widget and you can then add the icon or widget to a home screen. 
  • Some widgets are resizable. 
  • Examples of apps (that I have installed) which have widgets include: Calendar, Gmail, Google Play Books, Google+, Google Docs, Google Reader, Google Latitude, YouTube, My Tracks, Photo Gallery, News & Weather, Twitter, Facebook, Evernote, Springpad, Power Note by Diigo and Catch Notes Notepad. 
  • You can use the Google search bar to use text to search the web or your phone. 
  • If you click the the little microphone icon on the Google search bar you can use Voice Actions to search the web, your phone, or give commands such as "call", "navigate to", "directions to" and "map of" etc. YouTube video: A Guide to Voice Actions for Android. However, I am not sure this feature is as effective as it appears in this video.
Examples of widgets on my Galaxy Nexus:
My Tracks widget (top), Springpad widget (second from the top), Power Note widget (second from the bottom) and Evernote widget (bottom). 
Sharing between apps
The feature I find the most useful is the ability to share between apps. For example, if I am reading a blog post within the Google Chrome Beta browser app and I decide I want to share it, I can click the menu button, select 'share' and I am presented with a list of apps I can share via. I can send the blog post to Pocket so I can read it later,  or I can share a link to the post via Blogger, Catch, Dropbox, Evernote, Facebook, Gmail, Google+, SMS message, Power Note, Springpad or Twitter (These are just the apps I have installed, the list would be different depending on which apps you have installed). If the blog post were written in a language other than English, I could quickly translate the post by sharing it with the Google Translate app.

Within the Gallery app (screen shots below) I can share photographs with other apps. 

Within most apps I can select and copy text (press and long hold) and then send that text to other apps using 'share', or copy the text to the clipboard and paste the text within another app or within the same app (e.g. copy text from one Evernote note to another Evernote note). I have found the copy/paste and share features so much easier and more convenient on the Galaxy Nexus than similar features on my iPod touch. 

What follows are screen shots of the Settings app on my Samsung Galaxy Nexus. The Settings app provide many options to customise and personalise the Galaxy Nexus for your own requirements. Settings are grouped under the headings Wireless & Networks (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Data Usage), Device (Sound, Display, Storage, Battery, Apps), Personal (Accounts & sync, Location services, Security, Language & input, Backup & reset) and System (Date & Time, Accessibility, Developer Options, and About Phone).
A useful feature within the settings is the ability to monitor and limit data usage via mobile network and Wi-Fi. You can also easily see which apps are using the most data. 

The Samsung Galaxy Nexus features a 5 Mega Pixel camera with digital zoom, auto focus and LED flash. The flash is very, very bright and people asked me to turn it off. Within the Camera app you set the flash to On, Off or Auto. Other settings you can change within the Camera app include:
  • Whether or not you store the GPS location coordinates within the metadata of the photograph. You can set this feature to On or Off.
  • Scene mode, the options are Auto, Action, Night, Sunset or Party.
  • Exposure (+3,+2,+1,0,-1,-2)
  • White balance, the options are Auto, Incandescent, Daylight, Fluorescent or Cloudy.

You can switch between normal still photo mode, video mode and panoramic photo mode. YouTube video: Galaxy Nexus: Camera and Panorama.

The Gallery app shows all image files stored on your phone (from the Camera, from other apps) and optionally, images from your Picasa web albums. Below you can see screen shots of the Gallery app showing images from my Picasa web albums. 
A thumbnail view of all albums (those stored on the phone and on Picasa web albums). You can swipe left and right to see the complete list of albums.
Touch the album of your choice from the list to see all the photographs in that album. While in the album view, clicking on the play button on the top banner will start a slideshow of all photographs in the album. Clicking on the menu button on the top banner (the three little squares) provides the options to Select item(s) and Group by. Selecting Group by allows you to group images by Location, Time, People  or Tags. 
Touch a photograph to show a photograph in a single image view. The other photographs from the album appear as a list of thumbnails below which you can scroll through. Pinch to zoom in and out of the photograph. Share the photograph using the share button on the top banner. 
While in the single image view, clicking on the menu button on the top banner (the three little squares) provides you with the following options: Slideshow (start a slideshow of photographs in that album), Edit (edit the photograph using a selection of editing tools), Crop, Details (view the metadata for the photograph) and Set picture as (set the photograph as a contacts' profile photo or as a wallpaper). When you are viewing an image within the Camera album these options also appear: Rotate left, Rotate right and Show on map.
Clicking on the Edit option opens a the photograph in the photo edit mode. This includes options to crop, straighten, rotate and fix red eye. The editor also includes several colour and brightness filters and other special effects.
I hope to post another Tech Tuesday next week and start to bring the focus towards how I can use various apps in my genealogy journey.
Until then, here is a selection of further reading:
Samsung - Get to Know Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich - Android 4.0 Explained
Android - Introducing Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
Wikipedia - Android Version History - Ice Cream Sandwich

Australian Genealogy Journeys by Aillin O'Brien is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://ausgenjourneys.blogspot.com. I am in no way affiliated with these companies.

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