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Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Nexus 7, Bluetooth devices and useful Apps

Ok, so anyone who knows me will know I'm a happy Android user, and the Nexus 7 has only cemented this position. All I want to do today is share some of the things I have done to make the Nexus more useful and work even better for me. I hope these notes may help you as well.

The first thing I would recommend is getting a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, if you are likely to be doing much in the way of text entering (like blogging or coding for example). I got both, and they really make a difference when using the tablet as a content creating device. They also make the Citrix Receiver and my XenDesktop work really well when I'm on call and need to be able to check things quickly. It won't replace my laptop, but means I don't have to have it on all the time.
Pairing the tablet and the keyboard and mouse was painless, and to borrow a phrase from our fruit loving brethern, "it just works".

Now, I very rarely feel the need to buy apps for a mobile platform, whether it was Apple previously or Android now, the free versions usually are fine for me, but I have bought "Pro" versions of some Android apps, because they really are that good. As a result, I'd heartily recommend the following apps from the Play Store:

  • ezPDF Reader Pro - This is easily the best PDF reader I've used for pretty much any platform, and using it on the tablet is great for annotating PDFs, making notes in margins etc. It also has some support for epub ebooks, so definitely worth the few pounds I paid for it.
  • DroidEdit Pro - A very neat text editor with syntax highlighting for many different scripting languages as well as html etc. The reason I paid for the pro version was that it supported direct Dropbox access, which I find very useful.
  • External Keyboard Helper Pro - I'm using this to make sure that the Bluetooth keyboard is recognised as an en-gb keyboard rather than the default en-us that Android uses. It also allows custom keymaps to be added and to map keys to specific functions, which can be helpful.
  • Hacker's Keyboard - A soft keyboard which is much better than the Android stock ones. This app is free, but my soft keyboard of choice when I'm not using the BT keyboard.
The other really good thing about the Play Store is that when I bought each app, I was able to use it on all my Android devices, they were not tied to one device or another. This meant that I was able to pair the Bluetooth keyboard with my HTC Desire S work phone and use External Keyboard Helper to set it to en-gb and send text messages using the keyboard. I know, geeky and probably pointless, but it's nice to do it if you can, right?

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