The Nexus 5 was announced on October 31st. The device is shipping for those that ordered it right away, and we have our own Nexus 5 review up already, too. The N5 comes loaded up with the newest version of Android too. 4.4 KitKat looks a bit different and offers up a slew of changes for users. Here are a few great tips for you to use with your new Nexus 5. Some of these are new with the Nexus 5 and KitKat, some of them have been around for a little while. All of them can help improve your experience with your new smartphone.
1) Print documents from anywhere
Android 4.4 KitKat brings new cloud-printing capabilities with it. You can print documents from anywhere that you have a data connection. Google Cloud Print is enabled by default. You will need a compatible printer that is connected to the internet. This new feature will let you print documents, control two-sided printing, and check your printer’s toner levels right from your Nexus 5.
2) Enable lock screen widgets
Lock-screen widgets are not new to 4.4 KitKat, but in the new version of Android you have to enable them. You’ll need to jump in to your Settings and then Security. There’s a check box that says “Enable Widgets.” This will turn them on. After that, on your lock screen just swipe to the left and tap the plus sign in the center of the screen. You can add stock widgets or search in the Play Store for third-party ones. There’s a bunch of them.
3) Install apps and games that aren’t from the Play Store
Google lets Android users have more control over their devices and where their apps come from. That’s why we love Android. You can install apps and games from wherever you like. You’ll need to enable this setting first, though. Go in to your Settings and then Security. Check the box that says “Unknown Sources.” This lets you download .apk files and install them without needing the Play Store. Just be sure you are getting your files from a trusted source.
4) Add your owner info to the lock-screen
While we’re in Settings -> Security, why not add your name or other info the lock-screen? We don’t recommend putting any private information there, but having your name and maybe some contact info could be helpful. Just check the “Show owner info on lock screen” box. Now, if you’re phone is every lost, someone may be able to get it back to you.
5) Back up your settings and data to Google’s servers
If you’ve ever switched Android phones, you know how easy Google’s backup servers make that switch. Loading up all of your apps, contacts, and configurations on your new phone can be time consuming, but not if you let Google help. Head in to your Settings, and then find Backup & Reset. Check the box that says “Back up my data” and also check “Automatic Restore.” These will let Google back up your data and settings, and automatically restore them on future Android devices.
6) Use Google Now with your voice
Google wants you to talk to your phone. The Nexus 5 makes it easier than ever to use Google Now with your voice. It’s not the same Touchless Control that the Moto X uses, but it’s still great. You just need to be on your home screen. Saying “Ok Google” will open Google Search and activate voice search.
7) Add home screen widgets
Home screen widgets are different in KitKat, too. The “Widgets” section is no longer in the App Drawer. Google has reverted back to an old implementation of adding widgets to your home screen. You’ll need to long press on an empty space on your screen and the Widgets options will show up.
8) Access Quick Settings
Google added Quick Settings toggles in Android 4.2. They are one of the most helpful changes that have been added to Android, maybe ever. Quick Settings on the Nexus 5 are accessed by swiping down from the top of your screen. Instead of the normal Notification area, you’ll see toggles for a lot of your settings, such as Bluetooth, Location, Wi-Fi, and more.
9) Make use of the new full screen Immersive mode
Immersive mode is new to Android 4.4 KitKat. It’s Google’s way of making apps use the whole screen when they need to. Videos, books, movies, and more will automatically use this full screen mode. It makes the experience much better. It happens when you open an app that can use it, and you just have to tap the screen to exit Immersive mode.
10) Have your Nexus 5 read to you
Your new Nexus 5 can read to you. The Android accessibility options will allow you to take your ebooks and turn them in to audio books. You’ll have to enable the feature first, but it’s simple. Go to Setting -> Accessibility and check the “Talk Back” box. Now when you’re in Google Play books, you can open the menu and tap “Automatically read aloud” to have your phone play the audio version of your book.
11) Monitor your battery life
The battery life on Android devices has gotten much better, and the Nexus 5 should get you through a full day with no issues. With the Quick Settings toggles, you can monitor what is using your battery easier than ever. Just pull down the Quick Settings from the top of your screen and tap on the Battery tile. It will take you directly in to the Battery settings.
12) Use a live wallpaper
With the Nexus 5’s Snapdragon 800 chipset, live wallpapers are smoother than ever. Google only includes one, Phase Beam, with the Nexus 5 but you can download a live wallpaper of almost anything you want from the Google Play Store. They are fast and smooth and shouldn’t even take a toll on your battery.
13) Toggle SMS messages in Hangouts
Google announced an update to Hangouts that supports SMS messaging from within the app; at the same time they announced the Nexus 5 and 4.4 KitKat. You can disable this if would prefer to keep the messaging options separate. You’ll find this option in the Hangouts settings. There’s a “Default SMS app” option, and Hangouts is set as the default automatically. You can change this setting to whatever SMS app you want, but you will need to download an alternative from the Play Store first. Hangouts is the only SMS app that comes pre-installed on the Nexus 5.
14) Track your data usage
Some users are still lucky enough to have an unlimited data plan through their wireless carrier. More and more people find themselves on a tiered-data plan now, and Android can help you track your data usage. You can monitor how much data you’ve used for the month and set alerts by going in to Settings and then Data usage on your Nexus 5.
15) Record your screen or take a screenshot
You are able to capture screenshots on your new Nexus 5 the same way as you have always been able to with Android. Press the Power button and the Volume Down button at the same time. With 4.4 KitKat, you can actually record video of your screen too. Download the Screen Record app from the Play Store and you can take video of your screen movements very easily.
16) Play games and compare scores with your friends
Google Play Games was rolled out with Android 4.3. On your Nexus 5, you can track gaming scores and achievements and compete against your friends for high scores.
17) Keep your music in the cloud and at your fingertips
Google Play Music All Access means that you don’t have to keep your music locally on your device anymore. The subscription service is only $9.99 a month and gives you access to millions of tracks. Even if you don’t want to pay for All Access, Google Music will still let you upload and stream 20,000 of your own songs, completely free. Just watch your data plan!
18) Use Face Unlock to access your device
Google rolled out Face Unlock with the Galaxy Nexus. It’s still there in Android 4.4 and it still works. You’ll need to enable Face Unlock by going in to Settings -> Security -> Screen lock, selecting Face Unlock, and then capturing an image of your face for the phone to use as a reference.
19) Use closed captions in videos
If you’re ever in need of closed captions, your new Nexus 5 supports the feature right out of the box. You’ll need to enable it. It’s located under Settings -> Accessibility -> Captions. You are even able to customize the font size and background color.
20) Enable Daydream mode
When you’re phone is charging on a wall charger or in a dock, it can also show you fun and useful information on the screen. You can enable Daydream mode under Settings -> Display -> Daydream. There are quite a few Daydream customizations on the Play Store too, if you get bored with the stock Nexus 5 options.
What are some of your favorite Nexus 5 tips and features?