About 8 months ago, on a whim I bought a Nexus 7. Really to be used for testing websites I work on for how they look on that size screen, a few months ago I decided to give Android a fair shake. Caveat: I have been an Apple person since 2002 or so, and have been with iOS since the original iPhone, so I am clearly a biased opinion.
The fair shake involved me using the Nexus 7 for all my media consumption, and tablet like duties (email, magazine reading, newspaper apps, etc). I did not “root” my device, or install a modified ROM. It is plain Android (jelly bean 4.2 right now I think). I have only used the Android play store, and I have never sideloaded apps (unlike most of my Android phanatique friends, who load tons of pirate apps).
I have documented some of the annoyances in the past, but I will summarize:
- The auto intensity adjustment is flakey. I read in bed, and the intensity switches levels a couple times a minute. I have never seen that with my iPad.
- The interface is at times unresponsive. Mostly noticeable during games (for example Astra Solitaire is painful to play, because the UI at times take 2 or 3 stabs with your finger to get it to respond. But I experience this with many applications. From reading the forums, this is not an uncommon Android experience.
- Gmail application. When I got this, it was great, very well mimicking the web browser version. But they have Google+’d it, and it sucks. I have gone back to using the “other” mail application.
- Chrome is missing one killer feature. Safari on the ipad (and on my mac as well), has a “reader” mode. It strips all the miscellaneous cruft, and displays the main content in a larger, easy to read font. Yes, Chrome lets you double tap to size it to the window, but that often is still text that is too small to comfortably read.
- The facebook application for android blows donkeys. It is just horrible. The iOS app used to suck, but about 4 months ago, a major rewrite made it killer and easy to use. Android still suffers here.
- The Google Play music app is painful to use. Really hard to create/modify playlists on the device.
- The accuracy of where it reads taps is odd. This is hard to explain, but for example, if you are looking at the device tilted back, and you pull up the email account selector on the gmail app, in the iOS world, it would know that you are looking at the screen tilted, and assume that you will tap a little low. Android misses this, and you select the one below your intent.
- Battery life is atrocious. I don;t play much music, or video, but have to charge it every day to day and a half for 2 – 3 hours of reading, light browsing. My iPad (granted a much larger device), I get easily 3 – 5 days of that same amount of usage. And it is 2,5 years old, so the battery isn’t fresh. I suspect this is somewhat caused by a lot of background processes that are constantly active. Unlike my iOS devices, it does update programs and the system silently and in real time. So I often have updates in the notification area. IOS prompts me to upgrade apps, so I tend to do it all at once.
I have heard people on the interwebz saying that the Nexus 7 is the best tablet out there, period. I suspect that they have never spent time with an iPad. It is just enough more polished, and less intrusive to knock the Nexus 7 off the pedestal that some place it. I haven’t toyed with one of the updated Nexus 7’s, perhaps they fix these gripes, but I suspect it is more tied to the Android OS, than the hardware, so I would be skeptical.
So, I am back on the iPad, and I will keep dabbling with the Nexus 7, but it isn’t going to displace iOS for me. (as I said, I was biased)