Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tech Tuesday - Getting to know the Galaxy Nexus - Galaxy Nexus Series - Part 1

One of my goals for 2012 was to 'Buy an Android Smartphone and use it for genealogy research.' The opportunity came sooner than I thought when family circumstances made the purchase of my first mobile phone more important.

Due mainly to the great reviews many genealogy bloggers have given their own Samsung Galaxy products, my smartphone of choice was the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. The Official Galaxy Nexus web site includes great information, images and videos giving details of Features and Tech Specifications.

As I mentioned, this is my first mobile phone. I have had experience with other 'mobile' technology of sorts. Back in 2004 I purchased a Pocket PC/Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) - a Hewlett-Packard iPAQ 2210 (I mentioned this is my previous post Technology - 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History - Week 8). In March last year I updated my music player from an iPod Nano 4th Generation to an iPod Touch 4th Generation. The iPod touch has allowed me to use many iPhone apps and to access the Internet (via a wi-fi connection), but I have missed out on the advantages of having a constant data connection and GPS, not to mention the basic capabilities of a phone. This was OK though and I have been happy with my iPod touch.

Now I need to get to know my new Galaxy Nexus and explore the apps available from the Android market. Thank you to Jill Ball for creating the blog Android Genealogy as I have found that blog a great source of information as I start to learn about my new gadget and its capabilities.

My initial impressions

My initial impression is that my new Samsung Galaxy Nexus is a clever and sleek gadget for which I am very grateful. I expect I will find lots of new reasons to appreciate it as I get to know its features better over the coming weeks and months.

I will start my assessment with my very minor minuses and finish with some of the things I like best about the Galaxy Nexus. I am no tech expert. These are just my initial opinions as a hobby genealogist who enjoys the use of technology. Keep in mind also that this is my first mobile phone.


  • The touchscreen is good but does not appear to work as smoothly as the touchscreen on my iPod touch. 
  • Sometimes when I turn the phone sideways and the screen moves to landscape mode it gets stuck that way and wont move back to portrait mode when I hold the phone up straight. I can't remember what app I was using when this happened, and I suspect it could be more to do with the particular app I was using than the phone. 
  • Intermittent data connection - Not a problem with the phone, and probably not really the fault of the well-known carrier either, but my data connection is quite intermittent in some country areas. This is a difficultly I accept. The data connection appears to work very well in most regional cities and towns I have visited though. Unfortunately some family members I often visit live in known 'blackspots' where even phone calls and text messages don't get through! I am happy enough though. 
  • Battery life is fairly limited - I realise this is because I have, initially, been using apps on my phone a lot, with the screen on for a long time. I accept that the battery is doing its best, so I don't really consider this a very important 'minus'. I haven't got a working car charger yet so that would certainly help the battery life while travelling.
  • The number of (quality) Android apps is still limited, but I hope this will change in the near future. Most apps still seem to be made for iPhone, and unfortunately for iPod Touch owners like myself many of these apps are the kind that benefit from having a constant mobile data connection and GPS, so no matter how much I try to use them on my iPod Touch their features really are limited. As an example, many of the apps listed on the Victorian Government Mobile Apps list are available only for iPhone. This includes interesting apps such as the Melbourne Museum Field Guide to Victorian Fauna (I have this on my iPod Touch and it works well as it doesn't require a data connection). However, other potentially interesting apps like Trust TreesVic-Heritage and travel/tourism apps would really only be useful with a mobile data connection and GPS.
  • Works very well for the basics - telephone and text messages. 
  • Data connection (when and where a strong signal can be received) is fast. 
  • GPS - Google maps with navigation, Google Earth, My Tracks for keeping track of places I have walked - lots of fun! The Google maps with navigation has already been very helpful when travelling, and it is always interesting to hear how the computerised voices pronounce Australian location names! But a warning, using Google Earth is a great way to use up data connection quickly!
  • Works great as a Wi-Fi hotspot. I have connected my laptop computer and iPod touch to the Wi-Fi network very successfully. Does this then mean I could use my iPod touch like an iPhone with a data connection while travelling around? Sort of. But, as I mention above, it would still need the GPS functionality to make the best use of many apps. The location feature on my iPod Touch worked once, when I was visiting Sydney and connected to a Wi-Fi network. This was based on my proximity to known Wi-Fi networks and not on GPS signals received from satellites (see the iPod Touch specifications, specifically footnote number 4). 
  • Great for quick access to Gmail, Google Reader, Google+ and Twitter. The Facebook app and Facebook Messenger app seem to be quite slow. 
  • I am enjoying getting to know new apps and exploring Android versions of apps I have already used on my iPod Touch. So far I have only tried free apps. 
  • I am pleased with the still camera and video camera. I have taken a few photos already including the following which I was happy with: 

In my next blog post I will write about some of the apps I have so far tried. Any app suggestions or comments would be most welcome. Thanks.

Further Reading (and Viewing):
YouTube - Getting to know your Galaxy Nexus
Google - Galaxy Nexus
Samsung - Galaxy Nexus
Galaxy Nexus by Samsung - Tutorial at Verizon Wireless with thanks to a post on the Android Genealogy blog for directing me to this last link.

 Creative Commons License Australian Genealogy Journeys by Aillin O'Brien is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License.Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://ausgenjourneys.blogspot.com. I am in no way affiliated with Samsung or Google or any company.

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