Those of you who bought one of Google's affordable 7-inch tablets, the Nexus 7, may have noticed the tiny gold connector pins near the bottom of the left-hand side -- the ones that looked like they were supposed to do something, but didn't, and the manual (really a pamphlet) just mysteriously called them a "4-pin connector."
Well, Asus -- the company which manufactured the Nexus 7 in partnership with Google -- just revealed what those pins are for when it introduced the Nexus 7 dock accessory. Just set it up and click your tablet in place, and it'll recharge it and output its audio to speakers, plus show off a "Daydream" screensaver. It's not available on the Google Play store with the cases and other accessories just yet, though, so if you want one you're going to have to find a secondary retailer.
What the dock does
The dock itself is just a tiny plastic strip, about the size of a business card holder or desk nameplate. Kellex's hands-on in Droid Life noted that it doesn't come with any kind of cables, so if you want to use it to recharge your tablet you'll need to plug it into the charger the Nexus 7 came with. An audio cable isn't included either, although you can plug in a set or speakers or headphones.
What else does it do? That's about it, unless you want to see what its screensaver is like. Google doesn't call it that, of course, but that's basically what Daydream is.
Dreaming of what time it is
Under Settings -> Display -> Daydream, you can configure what's shown on the Nexus 7's screen while its docked. The default setting turns it into a digital clock. Additional options let you set it to Night mode, "for dark rooms," or show pictures from your tablet or Google+ account, as well as headlines and article excerpts from the Google Currents newsmagazine app.
Other apps you install can add their own features to Daydream. If you like the clock but don't like the new design Google gave it in the latest Jelly Bean update, for instance, the "Fixed 4.2 Clock Widget" has you covered.
Not the only option
If you think Daydream sounds interesting, but you aren't sure you want to shell out Asus' recommended $39 for a dock, you can also set Daydream to activate when you set your tablet charging the regular way. You'll need to provide your own stand for it, though, or prop it up against something.
Finally, there are third-party docks available for cheaper, although they may use the regular micro-USB port (and thus hold your Nexus in portrait mode).
Jared Spurbeck is an open-source software enthusiast, who uses an Android phone and an Ubuntu laptop PC. He has been writing about technology and electronics since 2008.
- Technology & Electronics
- Handheld & Connected Devices