A note on music sound quality for iPhone and iPad users thinking of a Nexus 7 – the Nexus 7 speakers aren’t great

As mentioned elsewhere, I’m a long term Apple, iPhone and iPad user and got a Nexus 7 out of curiosity and to see how easy it is for an iPhone / iPad user. Generally I am very pleased with it, but I would be negligent if I didn’t mention the relative speaker qualities, when playing music.

To be honest, the Nexus 7 speaker quality is only “fair” – I wouldn’t say it is “good.” It’s actually rather tinny. And using the Nexus “surround” setting only makes it worse (it is good that is off by default).

My iMac has the best music sound quality of the speakers I have. The iPad 2 is next best, and very good. The sound quality drops quite a bit by the time you get to the iPhone 5. But even the iPhone 5 sound quality is much better than the Nexus 7, which obviously has the worst speaker of the lot, even if you are not an audiophile (which I’m not).

In summary, for the mobile devices I own, the speaker quality for music is:

  • Best: iPad 2
  • So-so: iPhone 5
  • Worst: Nexus 7

I haven’t done a comparison with earplugs or headsets of these devices. I know, for example, that music sounds beautiful on my iPhone 5 when I use the earplugs. So this is probably simply a speaker issue.

Note: I did try using my iPhone 5 and iPhone 4 earplugs on my Nexus 7, but the output sound into the earplugs was extremely low. Does anybody know if this is a Nexus 7 earphone jack output setting issue? Or maybe the Apple earplugs are just not compatible with the Nexus 7? Or could the output jack be defective? I had the “volume for music” in Settings turned way up but the sound coming through the earplugs was very low.

Anyway, if you aren’t doing a side-by-side comparison with the iPhone 5 or iPad 2 the Nexus 7 sound may seem “oh, that’s not too bad” to you. But as soon as you switch and do a direct comparison it’s pretty obvious.


Nexus info for Mac users – some positive info about backup and restore

Some more technical stuff about the Nexus for Mac users.

As you know I recently got a new Nexus 7. In my last post I expressed some concern about the backup / restore capabilities of the Nexus. At first I got the feeling that there just basically weren’t any.

But I noticed something in settings about turning on automated backups, and a checkbox for automated restore, so I figured at that point that it must have something.

So I decided to call Google Tech support and ask them and (1) had my first positive experience with Google Tech support and (2) this isn’t as bad as I thought. In fact, it’s pretty good.

In Settings > Google you can get fairly complete detail on what is backed up for each Google account, and when the last backup was for each item. From there you can also force a manual resynch of everything or individual items, and these are restored if you need to do a full factory reset.

If you need to do a full factory reset you can go into Google Play > My Apps and get all your apps restored.  You can also send apps to your device from your Mac or PC via Google Play from your computer, which is not something you can do with iTunes. I think that is an interesting feature.

The tech person also said he would send me a followup info summarizing all this, even though he was very clear.

This is fairly equivalent to an iTunes iCloud backup and restore. In addition iTunes offers a complete encrypted backup directly on your computer which does a 100% full restore of everything. The Nexus doesn’t offer something as good as that. But I do feel this is roughly as good as an iTunes iCloud backup.

Some things are not as good – for example you have to do that one extra step to retrieve all your apps from Google Play. And if your app had special data like game scores stored those are not saved for all apps. It is for others, like Google Photos.

But in other cases it is better – like that feature where you can send apps directly from Google Play to your device, which is very convenient and interesting.

I am satisfied with this for now, and no longer feel like I would just be left “hanging there” if I needed to do a factory reset or exchange the device.


As a Mac user with iOS devices, how locked are you to the Apple ecosystem? More than you might think.

While I am greatly enjoying the Nexus 7 so far, I think the answer to one of my original questions: “How locked am I into the Apple ecosystem” turns out to be “very locked.” More than I thought.

This is all due to there not being a Mac equivalent of iTunes for the Nexus which deals with music, photo albums and backup/restores.

For example:

(1) I can sync music with my Nexus 7. This is perhaps the easiest of the tasks. You can use the free Google Music Player. If you can download it.

Note for non-U.S. people: You must be in the U.S. or a supported country for the initial download of the Mac Google Music Player app, and have a  U.S. credit card to sign up for Google Wallet, for extra verification, even though it is free. I did this via VPN from Japan, and have a U.S. credit card. Otherwise doing it from here would have been impossible.

Once you have Google Music Player installed the sync works well, and is fast, and Google Music attempts to match with its library for minimal actual transfer of data. You can stream your playlists, or touch “pin” to store any albums or song on your Nexus 7 for offline listening.

But this only works as long as you don’t have a lot of DRM protected music purchased pre-2009 from the Apple store. If you do, you have to unlock the old purchases. I did that by burning CDs and re-importing them. Apple has a paid Match service for this, but a lot of the older purchases were NLA (no longer available) so this was the only way. Also, this only works for playlists, so you have to create playlists for whatever you want to sync. But it does work, and isn’t too bad. It’s quite nice actually.

(2) I can transfer iPhoto albums to my Nexus 7, via the free Android File Manager app for the Mac when connected via USB. But this has drawbacks, including exporting albums and wasting disk space, and isn’t really a sync solution.

(3) There is no included automatic backup of the entire Nexus 7 to an iCloud equivalent, or the ability to do a complete backup on your computer. I hear there are some 3rd party solutions for this, but haven’t tried them yet.

These solutions are not terribly challenging, but I would say they are not for beginners either. It turns out that iTunes and its ability to sync and backup and restore are actually very powerful features, and so before anybody changes from an iOS device to an Android device my best advice is to consider the implications of this. Android really needs something equivalent to iTunes. iTunes is perhaps under-appreciated. At least it was by me.

DoubleTwist is a 3rd party solution which looks, at first glance to be an iTunes replacement. But it does not sync iPhoto albums, like iTunes does. Nor does it deal with complete device backup and restores. And you must use it via an extra paid wi-fi app, because DoubleTwist does not support the Nexus 7 via USB.

I will be posting more later. I actually think the Android UI is better than iOS and I like using it more. I’ll be writing about my reasons for saying so later on with some examples. And I think hardware wise the Nexus 7 is better than the iPad Mini.

My main issues are just what I mentioned here – syncing music, syncing iPhoto albums and backup/restore capabilities. So it is something to consider if you have been using the Apple “ecosystem” for a long time.


Nexus 7 – first impressions

My new Nexus 7 arrived today. And… wow. I have to say I’m impressed. Everything worked out of the box. The screen is amazingly beautiful. The voice feature works at least as well as Siri. The Swype keyboard is amazing. And it even knows where I am with more detail than my iPhone 5. Gmail on the Nexus is also really beautiful. I haven’t tried that much yet, but am really impressed so far. And no dead pixels. 🙂

This is a screenshot after I asked it by voice what the weather is like today.