Setting Up Your New Android Tablet for Maximum Awesome
You put it on the list. You dropped subtle hints. You even watched The Internship just to point out the Android logo. Finally, all that work has paid off. You have a new Android tablet. Now what?
Once you've plugged in your Google account information, you'll want to load your new toy up with the best apps on the market. It's also a good time to get those settings in line for maximum Android action.
When you turn on your tablet for the first time, you'll be prompted to log in to your Google account. This will import all your Gmail and purchased app information. Unless you want to get Google spam, uncheck the box that asks if you want to get periodical news about Google products. No one likes spam. This is also an opportunity to add additional accounts. If you plan on sharing the tablet with family members, you can add their Google accounts, which will let them access their Gmail and apps in a separate environment.
Here are some of the best Android apps. Some are a fun way to pass the time, while others are utilities that add features to the tablet that are otherwise missing in its default state.
Netflix - (Free) Pretty much everyone has an Netflix account now. A tablet is a great way to watch Orange Is the New Black while lying in bed or traveling.
Kindle - (Free) Sure Google has Google Books, but when you're looking for the biggest library, you go to Amazon. Because the online retailer wants to sell you everything everywhere, you can read your books on almost every platform available.
Facebook - (Free) It's how you keep track or your family and friends from high school. Sure, we all hate it. But we can't stop using it.
Google Play Music - (Free) Rdio and Spotify are great. But Google Play Music combines the music you already own with a streaming service. You can even create playlists that combine songs you own with ones you don't.
Where's My Droid - (Free, $4 Pro) This app is the Android equivalent of Apple's Find My iPhone. If you're prone to losing your electronics in cabs, hotels, or under the couch, get this app now.
Twitter - (Free) The official Twitter app has traditionally lagged behind third-party offerings. Now the official Twitter app is probably the best client on Android. You can share holiday cheer (or jeers) in 140 characters.
Asphalt 8: Airborne - (Free) Launch all the supercars you'll probably never be able to afford through the air. Play with up to seven of your friends to determine who is truly the best Android-based driver.
HBO GO - (Free) Winter is coming. Okay, winter is actually here. But if you have HBO you know exactly what I'm talking about. With the HBO GO app you can watch all the current and past HBO offerings on demand.
Weather Underground - (Free) The best weather service out there. If you're tired of seeing the weather from the airport 15 miles away, this is the weather service to get. The local weather stations will keep you up to date on the weather that's actually outside your front door.
Instagram - (Free) Keep up with the filter-adding photography of your friends. If you feel comfortable taking photos with your giant tablet covering your face and blocking the view of everyone else, you can add your own photos.
Plants vs. Zombies 2 - (Free) An oldie but a goodie. Plants vs. Zombies is one of the best tower defense games ever made. Destroy the zombie scourge with some well-placed flora.
The apps are installed and now it's time to adjust your tablet for maximum efficiency. While you may be happy with the default settings, it's always good to know how to make quick changes should anything go wrong.
Lock it down: If you plan on taking your tablet outside of the house at any time, it's good idea to lock the screen. Head to Settings > Security > Screen Lock. From there, choose a pattern, PIN, or password you'll remember to keep baddies out of your personal information.
Lock rotation: Tired of the flipping and flopping of the screen every time you rotate your tablet from portrait to landscape? You can turn off rotation by navigating to Settings > Accessibility and unchecking Auto-rotate screen.
Printing: While you can't print directly from your tablet to a printer like you would a computer, you can set up a Google service to take care of printing for you via the cloud. The Google Cloud Print service is easy to set up and is tied to your Google account so no matter what Android device you use, you'll be able to print.
Bigger fonts: If the default fonts are difficult to read, you can enlarge them system wide. Go to Settings > Display > Font Size. Make 'em as huge or small as you want.
Google Now: Setting up Google Now is paramount to having the best Android experience. Just swipe up from the bottom of the display on any screen. Click Next and follow the set-up prompts to see your weather, commute times, and information from your favorite sports teams.
Roberto is a Wired Staff Writer for Gadget Lab covering cord-cutting, e-readers, home technology, and all the gadgets that fit in your backpack. Got a tip? Send him an email at: roberto_baldwin [at] wired.com.
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