Now that I’ve had a couple of days worth of experience with the Samsung Galaxy Tab, I thought I’d post a couple of tips that have made using the device a much better experience.
Setting up Google Voice on the Samsung Galaxy Tab
One of the first applications I installed on the Galaxy Tab was Google Voice. Although the Tab can’t make GSM or CDMA calls (of course, VoIP calls are theoretically possible), I still wanted to be able to send and receive Google Voice text messages. The Google Voice app installed fine, but I got stuck at the point where it asked for the device’s phone number. Although my device technically does have a phone number (something about Verizon’s data implementation requires devices to have phone numbers), it isn’t possible to actually call the number. That means the number can’t be verified by Google Voice which, in turn, means that it can’t be added to your Google Voice account.
I tried associating my mobile number with my Galaxy Tab, and while it worked perfectly and did allow me to send and receive text messages as expected, I found I could no longer receive text messages on my mobile phone. But the experience gave me an idea: I added my office number to my Google Voice account, and associated it with my Galaxy Tab. Perfect. Since my office phone can send or receive text messages anyway, I wasn’t inadvertently disabling any of its functionality. I can now send and receive text messages from my Galaxy Tab, my Droid X, and from my browser. (And I can still forward calls to my office phone should I choose to.)
To recap, here’s the process of setting up Google Voice to work with the Samsung Galaxy Tab:
- Add a Google Voice number to your account that does not need to send or receive text messages. Your home or office phone should work fine. (Note that you will still be able to forward calls to the number you use.)
- Install Google Voice on your Galaxy Tab.
- During the setup process, select the number you just added to your account as the Galaxy Tab’s number. Google Voice will accept it without requiring any form of verification.
- Complete the setup process by skipping the voice mail configuration. That’s not relevant on the Galaxy Tab.
That’s it. You can now send and receive text messages on your nice, new, 7″ Galaxy Tab.
Getting Applications to Run Fullscreen on the Galaxy Tab
Most of the applications I installed on my Galaxy Tab worked fine, but a few (The Weather Channel, New York Times, etc.) didn’t take up the full screen. To be honest, I have no idea why. It seems to me that if your application can run on different Android phones, it should be able to run on a 7″ Android tablet, but apparently not. Anyway, I found a workaround provided by jkkmobile. They made a six-minute video describing how to change your Tab’s configuration such that applications scale properly, but most of the video is spent waiting for the device to reboot (twice!). So, if you want to save yourself some time, I’ll list the steps here:
- Download an application called Spare Parts from the Android Market and install it.
- Open Spare Parts, and scroll down to “Compatibility Mode”.
- Uncheck Compatibility Mode, and then recheck it.
- Exit Spare Parts.
- Reboot your Galaxy Tab.
- Once it boots, open Spare Parts again.
- Scroll down to “Compatibility Mode” and uncheck it.
- Reboot again.
That’s it. All apps should scale themselves properly now. (Note that this fix is provided by jkkmobile — not me. I’m just listing the steps described in the video so you don’t have to spend six minutes watching a Galaxy Tab reboot.)
Some Miscellaneous Galaxy Tab Tips
- Turn off the auto brightness adjustment. It doesn’t work very well yet, and it’s not uncommon to place a finger over the light sensor on the front of the device which causes the screen to dim. I’ve found it’s much more convenient to set the screen brightness to a constant value, and just adjust it manually when I need to (like when I’m reading in the Kindle app). You can adjust the screen brightness right from the notification “shade” — a nice addition Samsung made to the Android OS. (Note that it’s also possible to adjust the screen brightness from within the Kindle app by selecting View Options.)
- Turn off the Swype keyboard. One of the great things about the Galaxy Tab is that the 7″ screen lets you “thumb type” while in portrait mode (which I find to be very efficient). But that pretty much entirely defeats the purpose of Swype which is meant to be used with a single finger, so I found the Samsung keyboard to be much better suited to the device. To turn off Swype, go to Settings > Language and Keyboard > Select Input Method > Samsung keypad. I would also recommend going into the XT9 settings, and turning off everything but spell correction since my experience was that all the other settings did more harm to my typing than good.
- Install gesture search. Gesture search lets you search your entire device by drawing letters on the screen. I put the Google search widget at the top of the home screen, and since the screen of the Galaxy Tab is so wide, I had room to put the Gesture Search application beside it on the same row. That groups my two most frequently used search options together in one place.
Stay tuned for a full review of the Galaxy Tab coming soon.