Nexus 7 – the good and the bad, a mini-review – It won’t be a success

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My Nexus 7 arrived yesterday and I’ve had plenty of time to play with it.  No point in doing a full review because those have been all over ther net for some time now.  Here are my personal impressions:

The Good:

1.  I bought it mainly to use as an ereader since I no longer like reading e-ink and my iPad, while a wonderful ereader, is too heavy and large to  be easily portable.  The 7 inch form factor of the Nexus is just perfect for an ereader.  It’s light, easy to hold and can even fit into some of my pockets.  A definite win. All my ebooks are now duplicated on the iPad and Nexus.

2.  The machine is speedy and smooth the latest version of Adroid is very nice.  The machine streams video from Netflix and Crunchyroll just fine. It is much smoother than my Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus and doesn’t have all the annoying stuff that Samsung put into its tablet.  I found the Galaxy to be too annoying to be useful and it wound up on a shelf.  Android 3.2, which is what it uses (no update available – a far too common Android complaint) is not well suited to tablets.

3.  Battery life is excellent.

4.  Kindle for Android works like a charm.

5.  Android 4.1’s notification system is so far ahead of iOS that it isn’t funny.  It is the best part of the Android ecosystem.

The Bad:

1.  When compared to iOS, Android sucks.  It is much harder to use and not at all intuitive.  I have more than one non-techie friend who have absolutely no problem using their iPads and they simply cannot figure out how to use their new Nexus.  Very few people call me for iPad advice, but they do call for Android advice. FAIL.  I emphatically DO NOT recommend Android to anyone who is not a bit of a techie.

2.  Application support is a mess.  Many of the applications I have that run on my Galaxy Tab will not load on the Nexus.  “Your device is not compatible with this version” is something you get used to seeing.  FAIL

3.  Applichations, themselves, aren’t so hot.  It is interesting – every single application I have that is duplicated on Android and iOS is better on iOS.  The Android versions are quite often more primitive in both features and execution.  The complete lack of consistency in the user GUI from Android application to Android application is very annoying and sometimes quite confusing.  Say what  you like about Apple being a tyrant, there is no question that their curating applications makes for a much better user experience.

I will be the first to run out and buy a small iPad, if such is really in the works.  In the meantime the Nexus will make a great ereader but won’t be used for much else.

I predict that Google, despite the plaudits from the techie press (who don’t understand that it is the non-techie, non-computer savvy purchaser who makes up the market) will not end up making the Nexus a success.  Android is just too hard to use for the average person and the GUI of their Play store has been designed to keep people out, not let them in.

20 Comments on Nexus 7 – the good and the bad, a mini-review – It won’t be a success

  1. To each his own

    I have an iPad which I have not used it and I mean “at all” for at least a year. Why? I prefer to use Android devices. I don’t like dealing with the itune store, I don’t care for Apple’s restrictive polices and I never saw any advantage or reason to fell iOS was a better operating system. Why somebody would feel that you need to be a “techie” to use an Android device strikes me as simply amazing and to say that “Android is just too hard for the average person to learn” is beyond ludicrous.

    So where are you stumped?

  2. Paul’s informal review of Google’s Nexus 7 tablet is overwhelmingly on
    target, and I applaud his willingness to defy the conventional wisdom
    of the trade press. Let’s see more hands-on reviews like this in
    TeleRead. Nice going, Paul!

    Although the Nexus 7 could be at least a limited success in the end,
    because so many techies are in love with the specs, it is still miles
    behind iOS in usability for newbies. This is more than a software
    issue actually – rather, a business one, too. I know Google is
    pampering developers and hoping to improve the quality of
    applications, but I’m also interested in the here and now

    Other pesky issues arise, too, with the Nexus 7. Even experienced
    Android users like me find that it is much easier to use the iOS
    interface to make inserts during edits, to give one example. Maybe
    this is what a New York Times reporter had in mind the other day when
    he described the Android interface as still clunky.

    Moving on, the speech recognition on my iPad 3 is far superior in
    accuracy to that of the Nexus 7 that arrived yesterday. What a
    disappointment. Here I was hoping to use the Nexus for dictation.
    Although far from perfect in this regard, the iPad is good enough for
    me to rely on the dictation feature regularly, including for this
    comment. Much faster than the virtual keyboard alone.

    Yes, I know: the Nexus 7 is not in the same price class as the iPad.
    And it does have some wonderful pros, just as Paul has pointed out.
    But it is hardly the be-all and end-all that some stars of computer
    journalism have portrayed it as being – and that’s true especially for
    people who are already heavily dependent on the Kindle ecosystem. I am
    disappointed in the Nexus 7-compatible Kindle app, which does not
    display as much text as Amazon’s Fire does.

    What’s more, the Nexus-compatible application does not offer the same
    font choices that the Fire does. I realize that Amazon, not Google,
    controls this e-reading app, and that it presumably will be improved
    at some point; still, the current results are far from what I was
    hoping.

    Adding to the annoyances, the Nexus 7 comes without Flash. I myself
    truly hate the technology, the instabilities, the other aggravation.
    Just the same, if you want to watch an Amazon movie – dependent on
    Flash – you might be out of luck with the Nexus. Perhaps there’s a
    workaround somewhere, but users really shouldn’t have to go through
    all this fuss. Normally I’d applaud the omission of Flash. But
    something in me makes me wonder if Google dropped it mainly to drive
    people to the Google Play store by making the streamed Amazon videos
    unplayable on the Nexus.

    Let me conclude with a reminder that I myself detest the proprietary
    approaches and closed ecosystems favored by Apple and Amazon (not that
    Google is perfect). And I’ll emphasize again that the Nexus 7
    certainly has its positives. But although an improvement over past
    7-inch Android machines, the new Nexus does fall short of its hype,
    and I won’t adjust my usability observations just because I’m pro
    “open”

    David Rothman
    Cofounder, Librarycity.org
    Founder, TeleRead
    (And a small Google shareholder)

  3. Logan Kennelly // July 18, 2012 at 1:59 pm //

    Yeah, I have trouble with statements that people that have used one thing for a really long time have trouble using another thing. Of course they do! More interesting would be the opposite: “I have friends that used Android for years and they just bought an iPad and find it much more intuitive”. I personally find the double-tap home menu, the long-press jiggle, and the split of application settings between in-application and in-Settings dialogs non-intuitive. (On the flip side, I still don’t know the proper way to select/copy text in an Android textbox input.)

    There’s also the issue of confirmed belief. Apple, and their supporters, have done a fantastic job of getting the word out that their products “just work”. This means that people try to figure out the solution on their own and generally succeed. Other technology products without the same message can be just as easy to use, or easier, but people “know” they are difficult and refuse to learn them. It sounds silly, but there is still a strong current of pride in ignorance when it comes to technology.

    Yes, the applications aren’t generally as consistent with each other on Android (sometimes for better, sometimes for worse, but consistency has its own advantages). The incompatible application problem will clear up (the device is a day old, give it some time), and iOS doesn’t have the problem because Apple developers don’t (or can’t?) restrict device support (so applications simply break). (The exception to this will be Hulu … as far as I can tell at this point, not supporting popular devices appears to be a business decision by Hulu.)

    But at least Android makes up for this by providing much better tools to users and developers for creating a custom-tailored device that works like the user desires.

  4. Logan Kennelly // July 18, 2012 at 2:07 pm //

    David, that’s interesting about the Amazon Kindle application, but, probably like B&N, they are saving the best version for their device. It’s unfortunate when companies cripple their own system to try to prop up sales in another part of the company. That, and, as I said above, it’s not like the Nexus 7 has been out for a month.

    The Flash situation is a decision by Adobe. They are finished with it, and, soon, will no longer allow any Android users to install it. Weird, but true.

    I find your experience with voice recognition to be vastly different from mine (although I don’t use it for dictation). The iPhone is a terrible mess that doesn’t seem to be able to identify my voice except when in a quiet room, and even then it is about 80% right. The Nexus 7 is still new, but my voice queries are about twenty for twenty. Not once, even when using proper names, did the query get even a single word incorrect, even when a television was turned on in the same room.

    I know there are reader impressions to grab, but it would be nice to see reviewers giving the products at least a week unless they are simply unusable.

  5. I haven’t gotten mine yet, but I know that when I got my first Android phone I expected a learning curve AND I read the manual. I’m a 60 year old Windows users and it really wasn’t a big deal.

    The apps will be updated soon enough and there is a nice selection to start most folks off with. Frankly, if I had an iPAD, I would wait for the smaller Apple one because who wants to buy two versions of the same app.

  6. I should point out to those who seem to think that I’m an Android newbie that, as I mention in the review, I’ve used a Galaxy Tab Pro 7.0 extensively, as well as a Kindle Fire, and that I also have three Android smartphones: a Galaxy Nexus, a Galaxy S Captivate and a Droid Bionic.

    So I know whereof I speak.

    Haven’t tried voice recognition on the Nexus 7 much, but it is so good on my Galaxy Nexus that it puts the limited voice recognition on my iPhone 4 (not S) to shame. It’s one of the best features of Android. My limited use on the Nexus 7 hasn’t been promising, however.

  7. Paul,

    Like you I have more than several Android devices and two Apple Desktops, one laptop and an iPad. I have no stake in the Nexus vs. Apple contest. I don’t have a Nexus and no plans to buy one. And, If Android 4.0 or 4.1 has become far more complicated than it’s predecessors, then my apologies.

    I don’t think your comments were limited to Android 4.0 however, and if you stated you felt that you felt that iOS system was more intuitive for you than Apple, while I wouldn’t necessarily agree, I wouldn’t have an issue with your feelings either.

    What I do take exception to is your implication that Android’s OS is only sutiable for the technicaly inclined. I can’t for the life of me think what it is you find to be so challenging relative to Apple’s OS that would cause you to make so broad a statement.

    Trust me there are millions of Android owners who don’t feel they are technically inclined who are as happy with their products as Apple owners are with theirs.

    And, in case anybodys worried, I don’t have anything to do with Goggle, Android or any tablet mnfg – what so ever.

  8. Likely if I had used an android device first, I might have had a different experience. However, I had an iPad 1 before a Kindle Fire and thus was underwhelmed by the Fire except as an e-reader. Like Paul with his Nexus, I do little else on the Fire besides read. I’ve been using computers since 1983 so am pretty techie, but do not find Android all that wonderful or intuitive. iOS does “just work.” Also, when I want backlighting and have something to prop it on, I prefer the iPad to the Fire for reading my Kindle books because the retina screen on the iPad 3 is stunning. With abundant light, I’ll take e-ink every time, though.

  9. My Android phones are on various versions of 3.0 and my Android tablet is on 3.0 as well, so I’ve used both versions and stand by my comments. Both versions are not user friendly and suffer from real GUI problems (I have consulted in GUI design, by the way, and Google doesn’t know what it means – except for Google Maps and they have lost the person responsible for that.)

  10. I’m still trying to figure this out.

    You press the button to turn it on. You swipe right to unlock the device. You tap right to page forward. You tap left to page back. You tap in the middle for an options menu. You put the apps you use frequently on your home page You tap on the app’s icon to open it. You tape the home icon to get back to the home page. Long tap on the home screen to change the background. Tape on the App store icon if you want to add an app. Long tap and drag the icon to the waste basket if you want to delete an app from the home screen.

    Accessing the system utility menu is not intuitive with Android, but it is simple and it certainly doesn’t require a technical background to learn or remember.

    Why all of this is intuitive when using iOS yet the same operations are difficult and confusing and require some technical expertise in Android – that’s where I get confused.

  11. Having helped a LOT of people try to figure out how to do things/fix things on their “simpler” iOS devices, I have come to the conclusion that it is not hte software or device, it is rather the unwillingness of people to sit and learn about the new toy they had to have. It takes time no matter what you buy… to sit and go through all it can do, have the patience to learn about it, try things. People just want easy , out-of-the-box fuctionality… and rather than learn on their own, they ask for help (which really means do it for me). I learned how PCs work from manuals and trial/error in the early days becasue that wasll their was, and knew it would take time.. alot of time. Not so today. Don’t blame the software, blame our fast-food mentality for quick and easy answers.

  12. MarylandBill // July 19, 2012 at 9:52 am //

    Ok, a couple of points.

    1. Paul, unless you hacked your phones, we can be sure you don’t have Android 3.X on your phones. Honeycomb was a tablet only release.

    2. You should know that appeals to authority, especially when you are the authority are a weak form of argument.

    3. As has been pointed out, the Flash issue is not Android’s fault. Actually, when comparing the Nexus to the iPad it is downright misleading since iOS doesn’t support Flash either (at least as far as I can remember).

    4. The Nexus 7 is a brand new device running a brand new version of the operating system. I don’t think it is incredibly unusual for there to be some compatibility issues.

    A lot of Apple’s hype about just working is based on a the fact that they control the hardware and the software. That means they can make sure everything works well together. On the flip side, it also means that they can charge through the nose for the hardware (and they do).

    Android’s big advantages are how easy it is to customize compared to the Mac. Basic functions have never struck me as being hard to figure out. Yes, some times customizing can be a bit of a PIA, but part of that is because Android allows so many more options.

    In any case, this all strikes me as the modern incarnation of the Mac versus PC debate.

  13. “In any case, this all strikes me as the modern incarnation of the Mac versus PC debate.”

    Yes, in many aspects.
    Personally I find iOS (and Mac) more “fun”. And I love the iTunes store, I’ve used a fortune on TV shows, audio books, etc.

    Thanks for the review, Paul, it fits well with my experience, love the device, but I’d prefer if it ran iOS. :-)

  14. @logan: Nice hearing from you. When I was running TeleRead, I really appreciated all the clueful comments you offered, even when we disagreed. And I am sure Paul feels the same. Re Flash and the Kindle app: I agree with you. But from an end-user viewpoint, whatever the explanations, the current results are still unfortunate. Meanwhile I see I’m not the only one with speech-recognition accuracy issues in Jelly Bean. Check out the snippet below. I’d welcome comments on this topic from other readers. I absolutely believe you experienced what you said you did, but maybe this is a YMMV situation dependent on different factors.

    Thanks,
    David

    http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fbetanews.com%2F2012%2F07%2F06%2Fgoogle-jellybean-smokes-apple-siri%2F&sa=D&sntz=1&usg=AFQjCNFZReAwIAvCdYHMTUcmHdeYZeYICQ

    Something else, and this is hugely important: I find voice recognition capabilities on Jelly Bean to be inferior to predecessor Ice Cream Sandwich. Perhaps it’s just an issue with my device. But on my Galaxy Nexus running Android 4.0.4, voice recognition is nearly 100-percent accurate. On Android 4.1, there are lots of misses, which probably seem more than they are because the other is just so damn good. I wonder if this dumbing down also responds to Apple patents.

  15. @logan: Nice hearing from you. When I was running TeleRead, I really
    appreciated all the clueful comments you offered, even when we
    disagreed. And I’m sure Paul feels the same. Re Flash and the Kindle
    app: I agree with you. But from an end-user viewpoint, whatever the
    explanations, the current results are still unfortunate. Meanwhile I
    see I’m not the only one with speech-recognition accuracy issues in
    Jelly Bean. Check out the snippet below. I’d welcome comments on this
    topic from other readers. I absolutely believe you experienced what
    you said you did, but maybe this is a YMMV situation dependent on
    different factors.

    Thanks,
    David

    http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fbetanews.com%2F2012%2F07%2F06%2Fgoogle-jellybean-smokes-apple-siri%2F&sa=D&sntz=1&usg=AFQjCNFZReAwIAvCdYHMTUcmHdeYZeYICQ

    “Something else, and this is hugely important: I find voice recognition
    capabilities on Jelly Bean to be inferior to predecessor Ice Cream
    Sandwich. Perhaps it’s just an issue with my device. But on my Galaxy
    Nexus running Android 4.0.4, voice recognition is nearly 100-percent
    accurate. On Android 4.1, there are lots of misses, which probably
    seem more than they are because the other is just so damn good. I
    wonder if this dumbing down also responds to Apple patents.”

  16. @logan: Nice hearing from you. When I was running TeleRead, I really
    appreciated all the clueful comments you offered, even when we
    disagreed. And I’m sure Paul feels the same. Re Flash and the Kindle
    app: I agree with you. But from an end-user viewpoint, whatever the
    explanations, the current results are still unfortunate. Meanwhile I
    see I’m not the only one with speech-recognition accuracy issues in
    Jelly Bean. Check out the snippet below. I’d welcome comments on this
    topic from other readers. I absolutely believe you experienced what
    you said you did, but maybe this is a YMMV situation dependent on
    different factors.

    Thanks,
    David

    http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fbetanews.com%2F2012%2F07%2F06%2Fgoogle-jellybean-smokes-apple-siri%2F&sa=D&sntz=1&usg=AFQjCNFZReAwIAvCdYHMTUcmHdeYZeYICQ

    “Something else, and this is hugely important: I find voice recognition
    capabilities on Jelly Bean to be inferior to predecessor Ice Cream
    Sandwich. Perhaps it’s just an issue with my device. But on my Galaxy
    Nexus running Android 4.0.4, voice recognition is nearly 100-percent
    accurate. On Android 4.1, there are lots of misses, which probably
    seem more than they are because the other is just so damn good. I
    wonder if this dumbing down also responds to Apple patents.”

  17. gridlockmanifesto // July 21, 2012 at 1:12 pm //

    Wow, there are a lot of great comments on here, so thanks guys! In response to iOS vs. Android, I have used mostly iOS since the first iPhone, and it is true that Apple is more simple, having fewer operation settings and choices, with a linear menu function. Android has many choices, and I like that too, so it is just different in my opinion. I watch TV on both my Galaxy 10.1 and iPhone, only I stopped using my Tab because it isn’t as portable. The “7” would be a great way to get back into using a larger screen for watching TV with my Dish Remote Access app and Sling Adapter my Dish coworker gave me. Right now, I miss too many shows to get the most value out of my TV service, and watching outside the house is really more convenient and allows me to see more TV.

  18. Clytie Siddall // July 22, 2012 at 3:18 am //

    Several commenters and the O.P are hereby ticketed for inducing device envy. 😉

    It’s not so much talking about the latest device (envy being default there) but about mentioning the previous “latest” devices you also have. Have mercy on those of us who have to wait several device iterations before upgrading!

    More seriously, if you have a device you aren’t using (like Paul’s Galaxy Tab ‘on the shelf’), please pass it on to someone who can use it. Schools, libraries and community centres are good places to start, as are shelters and halfway houses for people doing it tough.

  19. Not impressed…….I bought a Nexus 7 16gb and within 24hrs had returned it. Here’s the bad points (that’s all i need to know and wish i had prior to purchase)…thankfully i got a refund.

    1. No flash support……side loading flash and messing about with additional browsers to get BBC iplayer and most of all the other TV sites to work intermittently was a real pain…….before anyone moans that’s not google’s/ASUS fault…..i agree but it does nothing to sort the problem
    2. Many apps that work on my Samsung Galaxy S3 were “incompatible”……get used to that as many apps are simply not avaliable for the Nexus 7 and google boast about this being made for Google play…….my 2yr old Sony Xperia could load more!!
    3. Screen on mine froze numerous times.
    4. Lastly when you first switch on your nexus you can’t get the MAC code without first setting your router to broadcast SSID and accept all devices……1st device i’ve ever had to mess about with to obtain the MAC address…..not a big problem but my wife would have had no idea how to sort that 1st hurdle.

    That’s it……everything else was really good about this device. But if you want to unbox your nexus 7 and expect it to just work on BBCiplayer, all the usual apps etc…..DON’T……it doesn’t…..sadly. (and no i don’t own any apple products but do own 2 android ones)

    For me it was disappointing.

  20. Lol i think android is 10x easier to use. i dont understand ios it is so fcking weird. and i think android’s apps are better and they are chep unlike the apple’s

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