Spend your bonus $25
At the moment all Nexus 7 tablets come with two freebies - a copy of Transformers: Dark of the Moon and $25 of Google Play credit. While we could spend hours debating the worth of the movie, there is no doubt that the Google Play credit is a good way to get started with your tablet. This credit gets added to your google account when you sign in on the Tablet, and you can start making purchases straight away. When you choose to buy a paid app you’ll have the option of using your Google Play balance in the Wallet window that pops up.
You can use the Play App that comes preinstalled on the Nexus 7 or you can log in via a web browser from a PC. One of the coolest features of the web based Play store is that you can install directly to your device. Just hit the install button on an App’s store page and you’ll have the option of selecting an Android device to install to. The app will then install the next time your tablet has a WiFi connection available.
While searching around the play store it is also a good idea to hunt for the Google apps that don’t come standard on the Nexus 7. The biggest of this is Google Drive, but you’ll likely find official apps for the various google services you already use.
Try out a new keyboard
Google’s standard Android keyboard functions pretty well, but we have become big fans of third party solutions here at PC&TA. We have been quite partial to Swype, but that is somewhat tricky to get running on a tablet like the Nexus 7 that doesn't come with it preinstalled. It is possible to access the beta version of Swype, but we have found that process to be less than smooth in the past.
Our go to keyboard now is Swiftkey 3. This comes in either free or paid versions, with different apps for smartphones and tablets. It's $3.99 for the full tablet app. It's designed around improved prediction, and can learn your typing style by accessing your gmail and other messaging accounts. Not only does it make for a comfortable tablet typing experience, but it is also one of the best autocomplete experiences that we have had.
If it isn’t obvious it is worth grabbing the tablet version of Swiftkeys to run on the Nexus 7. Just make sure you follow the instructions on screen after installing the keyboard and you should be good to go, with Swiftkeys replacing the standard Android keyboard whenever typing is needed.
Hook into your media
Seeing as the Nexus 7 is heavily focused on media consumption, the home screen is set up to allow for quick and easy access. The easiest way to get media onto your device is via USB - the Nexus 7 shows up as an external drive when hooked up to a pc and all you need to do is copy files into the correct directory to get them to show up.
Music is perhaps the easiest stuff to get playing, just put the files in the music directory and hit the headphone icon at the bottom of the screen to fire up the player.
Technically video is as simple as this (you just hit the film strip icon instead). However there are some caveats as to what kinds of files that the Nexus 7 can play, and what rapidly goes into the too hard basket.
Google’s inbuilt movie player can cope fine with some common files like MP4, but it won’t play other formats like .mkv. In order to play these you can transcode video when copying it from your PC, or try to find a player that will support those files.
We are big fans of VLC on the desktop, but unfortunately the Android VLC player is still in beta, and we’ve found that it crashes a bit too often for it to be our go-to player. So we tend to use Moboplayer, but at the moment configuring Moboplayer on the Nexus 7 is somewhat of a nightmare, involving having to download a separate zip file, deal with that and manually install the codec. Until something more streamlined arrives, our tip is to stick to MP4 files for local video playback.
If you swipe up from the very bottom of the Jellybean home screen you’ll open up one of the most interesting new features built into the OS. Called Google Now it is an enhancement of traditional search functionality, combining either text or voice search with locational data and search history.
While the WiFi-only nature of the Nexus 7 limits a lot of the geolocational magic built into Google now it is still a highly impressive function. Once it gets your location it will show you the weather, but this is only the start. Ask where the nearest parking is an it will give a location-appropriate map as a result. It can also hook into your calendar and give you travel information, detect when you are overseas and give currency and timezone info, and can even help translate foreign languages.
To do a voice search just open Google now, say Google and then your query. It isn’t 100% accurate, but we’ve been incredibly impressed at how well it works with our Aussie accent, and it makes voice a very viable means of interacting with your tablet.
Play some games
One of the most exciting things about the Nexus 7 is that it packs NVIDIA’s Tegra3 processor. This means that it is a great gaming platform, and that there are some highly impressive 3D titles out for it. You can find Tegra optimised games on Google Play by searching for the term THD, but the best way to find them is to download Nvidia’s Tegrazone app.
Tegrazone not only has tablet focused news and other info, but it also lists all the Tegra enhanced games currently available. These are a mix of free and paid apps, which are great at showing off just what your tablet is capable of.
Our suggestion for the most impressive eye candy at the moment is Dead Trigger, a first person zombie shooter from the developers responsible for Shadowgun. Not only is Dead Trigger free to play (it does feature in-app purchases) but it stresses 3D graphics more than any other title around at the moment.