After a longer wait than anyone anticipated, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus has landed on US shores under the auspices of Verizon Wireless. This is a totally different kind of Android phone running completely new software. Despite Google’s attempt to make Android more user-friendly, some of the most interesting features are still not exposed to the average user. With that in mind, let’s go over the three things that you should do as soon as you unbox your brand new Galaxy Nexus.
Set up Data Usage
One of the new features in Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) is a very robust Data Usage meter. For users that have capped mobile data plans, this can be a real money saver. The data monitor is available in the main settings page under Data Usage. This interface has a toggle for disabling mobile data at the top, and a large graph below it.
Tap the check box next to “Set mobile data limit” to set a hard stop for your data guzzling ways. This option produces a second red line on the graph. Just drag this one to someplace above the orange one. To avoid overages completely, leave it just below the data cap. Alternatively, set it at a level over the cap that you would still be comfortable paying.
Down below the graph, Android also aggregates data usage by app so you can figure out what is hogging all the data. Tapping on any of these will bring up a detailed report of its activity.
Turn on GPU acceleration
Ice Cream Sandwich supports hardware accelerated drawing of 2D surfaces just like Honeycomb did, but now that power is at the user’s control. Developers are being encouraged by Google to enable this feature in apps, but we need not wait for them. Hardware acceleration can be forced on with minimal risk.
Be aware that some apps might tolerate this better than others. The user interface could be broken in small, or more significant ways in these apps. If something seems broken, try toggling GPU rendering off.
Get used to real folders
As part of the home screen redesign, Google has added a new way of making folders. Android has always had folders, but in the past they were clunky and unattractive. ICS folders are so easy that there’s no reason not to base your experience around them.
Folders in ICS work on any home screen panel, and even in the dock area next to the app drawer icon. By making folders usable, Google has probably changed the way people will use the Android home screen.
There is, of course, much more to do with Android 4.0 on the Galaxy Nexus, but these are three easy steps that will get any user off on the right foot. ICS will reveal all its secrets in time, but hopefully not too long.