The 5 Tweaks Every New Galaxy Nexus Owner Should Do Immediately

By Ryan Whitwam

Get a new Galaxy Nexus? Here are the first five things you to need to do to your smartphone for a better experience.

So you picked up a shiny new Samsung Galaxy Nexus on Verizon over the weekend? Well, its important to get off to a good start with any new smartphone, and the Galaxy Nexus has so many new tricks that it can be a little overwhelming. To that end, we’re going to tell you about the 5 things you should do immediately when turning on your Galaxy Nexus.

New users might have done some of this, but we’d wager everyone will find something new here. Grab your Nexus and get ready to do some tweaking.

Turn On GPU Acceleration

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is not the first version of Android to use the GPU to accelerate 2D drawing in apps. That honor goes to Honeycomb. What is new is the option for users to force acceleration on all those legacy apps with a simple toggle. There are some risks that come along with the rewards here, though.

The setting can be found in the spiffy new Android 4.0 settings menu under Developer Options. Scroll down and activate “Force GPU rendering.” And that’s it. Apps will scroll smoother, and transitions will be prettier. That’s the reward part, but what about the risks? Well, some apps might not tolerate being forced to do anything.

We have yet to come across anything this is fundamentally broken with GPU acceleration turned on. Some apps, like Speedtest, have tiny glitches that don’t affect the usability or performance of the app. Googlers have warned that GPU acceleration could cause some serious issues in apps where the developer has not accounted for it. If you have an issue, try turning this off before you shoot off a nasty email to the developer.

Kill Bloatware Dead

Verizon has included two apps on the Galaxy Nexus. How dare they? But seriously, we know that some users take this as affront to the Nexus program. Luckily, you can disable these apps with the new Android 4.0 app management interface.

The apps are My Verizon, and VZ Backup Manager. The VZ Backup Manager is definitely out for us. It really just duplicates content that Google is already storing in the cloud. My Verizon is actually kind of useful if you like to keep track of your texts and minutes. For any apps you want to kill, just head to the settings and tap Apps > All.

Scroll down this list until you find the offending app, and tap on it. Deliver the deathblow by tapping Disable. A moment later, the app is gone from your app drawer and background services. It won’t ever start up or bother you again.

Set Up Data Usage

If you signed up for Verizon to get the Galaxy Nexus over the weekend, you are on the great (all things considered) double data promotion for 4GB of data each month. That’s still a far cry from unlimited bytes. To ease the transition, Android 4.0 has a phenomenal new feature that you need to take advantage of straight away. Right near the top of the settings menu is Data Usage.

On this screen there is a cool little graph with a line you can drag up and down to set your monthly data limits. Pick your plan dates, and set that orange line to a bit less than your monthly quota. We’d also suggest you activate data limits with the checkbox right above the graph. This gives you a second red line to set above the first. When your usage hits this level, data will be shut off. Individual apps are listed below the graph so you can figure out what was slurping up all your data.

We have the warning set at a few hundred megabytes under 4GB, and the shut off right below 5GB. So if all goes as planned, the phone should never incur more than one $10 overage charge. You can tap on the displayed number on the graph to easily set the exact limits in megabytes.

Change Quick Responses

Quick Responses are genius. Really they are. If you get a call, you can drag the answer icon up instead of to the side and the call will be ended, and you get to immediately send the number that called you a canned SMS. The stock options aren’t bad, but they are generic by necessity. You know what you’re usually doing when you don’t want to take a call, so change them.

Open the dialer and hit the menu button up at the top to access the call settings. At the very top, hit Quick Responses. You’ve got four Quick Responses, and you can tap on any of them to edit. Hit Ok, and you’re ready to brush people off with style.

Setting Settings Shortcuts

Android 4.0 has removed the menu button from the default layout. The only time a static menu button shows up is in apps that don’t use the action bar. You can’t just hit Menu > Settings like in the old days to access system settings from the home screen. Now you’ll want to keep a shortcut handy, or rely on the pull-down shortcut in the notification shade. Perhaps as penance for this inconvenience, Google has made it much, much easier to get to important sub-menus directly.

Open the app drawer, and go over to the widget section. Scroll over until you find Settings Shortcut (1x1). Drop it onto your home screen and you will be presented with a page asking you to pick its destination. There are nearly a dozen options listed including, Sounds, Wi-Fi, Data Usage, Display, and Tethering & Portable Hotspot. Just tap the one you want, and the shortcut is added.

We have a folder of several of these hanging out on the home screen for easy access to various parts of the settings. This small thing is one of our favorite hidden gems in ICS.

Take care of these tasks and your new Galaxy Nexus will be more user-friendly and useful before you know it. If you've got any more quick-start tips, be sure to drop them in the comments.

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