The Google Nexus 5 runs great from the moment you pull it out of the box, especially with the new and improved Android 4.4 KitKat software on board. However you’ll want to make a few immediate changes to be better prepared, more secure, better performance and the best experience possible.
Everyone is different when it comes to how they use their smartphone, and what for, but below you’ll find 5 essential tips to help you get started with the Nexus 5. With Android 4.4 KitKat Google Now is integrated more than ever before, the lockscreen is smarter, and information is a swipe or voice command away, but you’ll still want to make a few of these important changes.
The average user will find that out of the box Google’s improved Android 4.4 KitKat to better serve you, the user. Instructions will walk you through the initial boot process and what everything does like never before, improved over previous versions of the OS, and everything is easy to understand and navigate. However, it still doesn’t recommend users set up a passcode lock, pattern, or any other security after signing into Gmail, and their life. We want better security, data usage limits, battery saving additions, and many more, so here they are.
While Android is great at going through the first few steps, signing in and syncing your Gmail, and generally getting started it forgets one key important feature. Security! It takes about 30 seconds to set up a passcode or pattern lock, and your device will be protected from prying eyes or in case of loss/theft, and here’s how.
Simply slide down the notification bar and head into settings, or find the gear-shaped icon from the screenshot above in the application tray.
Settings > Security > Screen Lock > and select Pattern, PIN, or even Face Unlock
From this same menu you’ll be able to also enable lockscreen widgets, which we’ll talk about below, and even add owner info to the lockscreen as well. We used @GottaBeMobile, but others might put their email should the device be lost. Once you set a PIN you’ll see additional options in this menu for time before lock, and things of that nature, so your not constantly typing in a pin every singe time you use the device. I found 5-10 minutes is ideal.
While we’re talking about security it’s also worth nothing two other things. One being to enter the Google Play Store and under settings enable password protection for purchases. This ensures a lost device won’t incur charges, nor will kids accidentally buy a bunch of games or apps. At the same time, head to the Android Device Manager and prepare the device for those services. This will allow you to call, lock, or even erase the device if it’s lost, missing, or stolen.
Set Mobile Data Limits
We all wish we had unlimited data options from carriers, but sadly that’s becoming less and less of an option. As a result many users have 2 or 4GB data plans, or even a pay-as-you go plan for their smartphone. The Nexus 5 with fast 4G LTE and a 5-inch 1080p display can churn through data if you’re browsing the web, viewing YouTube and Netflix, or installing large games like Asphalt 8.
Before you go over your data limit and get additional charges from a carrier, you’ll want to quickly set a mobile data limit for the device. You’ll do this by heading into:
Settings > Data Usage > Enable Mobile Data > Set Data Limit
From here you can slide the bars to your specific days in which your plan begin/ends, and even see what’s taking up the most data. You can cycle through previous months, and even enable WiFi tracking in settings. As a reminder, this may not be 100% accurate with carrier data limits, so use caution. However, we’ve found it to be extremely accurate in the past. The settings menu inside data usage can also be used to enable data roaming, restrict background data usage and more.
Enable Backup and Restore
Google offers a backup and restore feature for smartphones and tablets, but with Android 4.4 KitKat it’s even better. A quick swipe into the Backup & Reset option in settings will give you the rundown. During initial startup of your device, you may have restored from your Gmail account, but whether you did or not, you’ll want to enable backup on your new Nexus 5.
Not only will this backup data, WiFi passwords, and other information, but the automatic restore will even replace the settings and app data when an app is reinstalled. From custom settings to game progress and more. This has improved lately with Google Services Framework, and is better than ever with Android 4.4 KitKat. We strongly recommend backing up your new Nexus 5. Then you’ll be set next year when you get the Nexus 6. (or 5.5)
It’s no secret one of the biggest complaints of the Nexus 5 is the small 2,300 mAh battery. Even though KitKat is efficient, the Snapdragon 800 is the best processor in terms of battery consumption, and LTE is pretty smooth, you’ll still want to try and conserve battery. There’s a magnitude of ways to do so, so we’ll just mention a few quick and easy ones to enable during initial setup. This is a beginners guide, and we’ll dive into the battery later.
Screen brightness, sleep time, and location settings are the three key areas we wanted to focus on for battery life. For starters you’ll want to head in and choose screen brightness. Many opt for auto-mode, but that will make the screen fluctuate so much, especially outside, that it can in turn make the battery die faster. I use somewhere around 25-30% myself, which is hard to judge from a slider, but go ahead and turn it down. You don’t need the screen to be a spotlight, and your battery will thank you.
Settings > Display > Brightness (and don’t forget to set the “sleep feature” I use 1 minute, default is 30 seconds)
Disabling things like animations in the developer settings can improve battery, but disabling the pulse notification light will be so minimal it isn’t worth it to lose the feature. The second thing you see above is location settings. This is new to Android 4.4 KitKat, and will help you better control what uses location services, and when. GPS for Maps, Google Now, and Facebook kills data. Personally I turn all location services off, except for the essentials.
Settings > Location > Mode > and select Battery Saving
High accuracy is the best, but Google Now has worked wonderfully for me with the battery saving mode enabled instead. The phone will still use WiFi and mobile networks to determine location, and GPS won’t be fired up and draining your battery. These are just a few tips of many, and expect more to be coming soon from the team here at GottaBeMobile.
Now there’s also plenty of ways to increase performance, and tweakers in the Android community may root the Nexus 5 and install custom ROM’s and kernels, but the average user should just enable a few things to get the most from their new device. Correctly setting up Gmail, enabling sync, and selecting how far back to sync emails is one, and Google Now is another.
Google Now is deeply integrated into Android 4.4 KitKat. It’s a quick slide up away on the lockscreen, and a swipe to the left on your homescreen. This is where you get any and all information. We suggest taking the time to enable certain cards in the Google Now settings. This will give you news, weather, sports alerts, driving directions, nearby restaurants and more all automatically, if you choose. This also will hurt battery life to some degree, so pick your battles.
The middle image above is widgets on the lockscreen, as mentioned before. Everything from Gmail, Twitter alerts, Sound Search for music, and even weather info can all be added to the lockscreen. This ensures users can get the features and information they need, without ever unlocking the device. You’ll want to enable this.
Settings > Security > Enable Widgets
This is in the security section, since you’ll add them after setting a passcode lock, but will work fine without. Simply slide left on the lockscreen to add more, and get the most from your device without unlocking it.
Last, while many are probably familiar with it, get use to using the multi-tasking and multi-window function in Android. Tapping the button right of the home icon will launch the image shown above. Here you can quickly and easily toggle from app to app, and never miss a beat. Stock Android does this better than any manufacturer skin in my opinion, and takes my performance and multitasking to new heights. It won’t just remember you’re in the settings menu, but which sub menu too. Easily navigate through your phone quickly using this feature. It’s extremely powerful. Slide to clear those you don’t need, like Maps, which could be killing that battery behind the scenes.
The few changes outlined above will improve the overall experience with your new Nexus 5, while also keeping it safe and secure in case of an accident or theft. You’ll be able to use the device with comfort, restore data and apps if needed, and get better battery life than you expected. They are simple and easy to do, so give it a try and enjoy.
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