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.


Google Nexus 7 winging its way towards me

Well, curiosity got the best of me and a new Google Nexus 7 is on its way towards me (thanks, Cathy).

I had some money left on a 7 year old American electronics store card (Best Buy) and the new Nexus 7 is so inexpensive, I couldn’t resist.

Not that I’m abandoning Apple or the iPad. Necessarily. But I’ve never considered myself an “Apple fanboy” (these are all just tools after all) and I’m curious about a few things.

For example, I wonder how tied am I really to the so-called “Apple ecosystem”? That is what strikes fear in most Apple users when they consider trying something different. My suspicion is that I am not as locked into Apple as I might think. Consider all the cross-platform apps I use now, including Dropbox, Evernote, Skype, Gmail, Google docs, etc.

Also, there are some interesting things about Android which intrigue me. For example, being able to set my own default browser, or switch out to a different keyboard if I want to. Apple doesn’t permit that, which is irritating. (Apple fans would say they are just being safe. More objective people might say Apple is just too controlling.)

And there are some things you can do in Android that you can’t do easily in iOS. For example, attaching any type of file to an email! I can’t believe how easy that is in even an older version of Android – and not something you can do directly in iOS.

Anyway, I’m curious. And not spending any extra money. And it is also worth exploring the developer potential.

And I’m also curious if I would use a smaller tablet more than I do my iPad 2.

The specs, and price, when compared side-by-side with the iPad Mini are really impressive. Compared to the iPad Mini, the Nexus is much less expensive, yet has a better-than-retina display (323 pixels per inch, compared to just 162 ppi for the iPad Mini), more RAM, a better and faster cpu and, spec-wise at least, beats the iPad Mini in just about every category.

.                         iPad Mini        Nexus 7
Screen size        7.9″                7.0″
Resolution         768 x 1024    1920 x 1200
PPI                     162                323
Aspect ratio       4:3                16:9
cpu speed           1 GHz          1.5 GHz
cpu type             dual-core      quad-core
RAM                  512 MB        2.0 GB
Rear camera       5 Mpixels     5 Mpixels
Front camera      1.2 Mpixels  1.2 Mpixels
32 MB price      $429               $269

Of course the bottom line will be how well it works, and how easy and useful it is. I’ll report back after it arrives!