Nexus 7 Follow-Up

More Thoughts

Jelly Bean

I really like Jelly Bean. In my previous post I noted that I already liked it more than my version shipped by HTC on my Sensation. A week later and I'm more than confirmed in that opinion. Perhaps when Android 2.x was first released is made sense but Android has come a long way. I've preferred Android more than iOS for a while. Jelly Bean confirms that preference.

Many of the features I like about Jelly Bean are features that first debuted with Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0). Since this is my first experience with a 4.x version they're all new to me.

Stability and Polish

One of the first things that's noticeable is the polish. Jelly Bean just seems to work. Other than the slow (or perhaps resistant) scrolling in Chrome, everything just works. There don't seem to be any unfinished business. This is likely due to the fact I'm running 4.1.1.

I generally don't upgrade my MacBook until at least .1 or .2 of a new release. While the new features are tempting, there are always rough edges. I'm glad my first experience with Android 4.x is a more polished update.

Recent Apps

One of the features I didn't mention last time is the Recent Apps button. Starting with Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) Android devices have largely (perhaps completely) eschewed the dedicated buttons that marked earlier versions. Now there are three soft buttons at the bottom of the screen, always at the bottom regardless of how the device is rotated.

The left is the familiar "Go Back" button. The center button is for "Home". The right button shows "Recent Apps" meaning from what I can see everything that's running.

The "Recent Apps" list pops up as a fullscreen list of thumbnails of each running app. The thumbnails are large, perhaps 128x128 or so, and clearly labeled. To end or close an app, swipe the thumbnail left or right. Tapping a thumbnail takes you to that app.

Apple iOS has it's list of running apps but I like the thumbnail view in Android.

Multiple Users and Encryption

While I haven't enabled it yet, 4.x allows you to have multiple users with their own login. You can also enable full-device encryption. At my office all devices with company data on them have to be encrypted. Having encryption baked in will enable me to use the device for email and carrying files.

As A Reader

One of the key reasons I bought the Nexus 7 was to use as an e-reader. I've tried several of the non-Android readers (Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook). For ebooks, they're passable. For other electronic files like PDFs they just weren't ready. I also found the e-ink technology too slow. I agree that e-ink is awesome in terms of battery life and use in bright light but still too slow when turning pages.

PDFs

Despite the reduced battery life, I prefer the vibrancy and brilliance of the glossy screens found on iPads and Android devices. Even more, I like the fact that good PDF viewers are available.

There are several PDF viewers available. Adobe produce a good reader. I prefer to use Aldiko because it can read e-books and PDFs. It also has built-in access to numerous stores for free and paid content.

E-Books

As noted above, I prefer Aldiko for most e-books. There are free and paid editions. Aldiko will import books from Google drive or download them from one of many repositories. I installed it for everyone in the family. We sat down one night and downloaded a bunch of the free books so we could discuss them as we read them.

What I like about Aldiko on the Nexus is the 7" screen provides plenty of screen real estate to set the font to whatever size you need. Couple the font-choice with the night reader mode (white on black) and you have a very pleasant reading experience.1

Bible

As a Bible reader Android devices are quite good. I prefer to get my materials from Crosswire project. Crosswire produce open-source software and free texts for Bible programs. On Android there's a fantastic reader called And Bible.

Like Aldiko, AndBible has access to several repositories of free translations and helps. You might expect all the translations would be out of copyright edition. While it's true that many publishers refuse to release electronic editions for free personal use, many do.

I'm very please that Crossway have given Crosswire permission to distribute their new translation, the English Standard Version, free of charge. There are also good modern editions in other languages.

Like Aldiko, AndBible also has a night mode. I find it very effective for reading.

Miscellaneous

Bluetooth Keyboards

Back in the day I bought a Think Outside Stowaway folding keyboard.2 The Stowaway is perfectly sized to pair-up with my Nexus. I take it with me when I plan mostly to read but want to have a back-up solution to writing a blog post or an extended email.

What's Next

I'm liking my Nexus. I've started looking at the Nexus 4 phone as a companion device. Unfortunately Google have been out of them for weeks and seem to sell out every time they show up. If I want one I'll have to watch the Nexus 4 page closely. Or try Ebay. Or not!3

I've also been thinking about giving the Chromebooks a try. I've been to Best Buy a couple of times to look at them. Perhaps today I'll bite.

Footnotes


  1. Many e-readers have night mode. This is not unique to Aldiko.

  2. It's a shame iGo (who bought Think Outside) canceled production. I'd love to get a few more of these for my kids.

  3. The Nexus 4 is going for as much as $250 above list on Ebay. I'll wait.