Monday, 6 August 2012

Update on the Nexus - how's it going a few weeks in?

I recently had a friend contact me asking if I was still enjoying the Nexus 7. I thought my reply would actually make a decent blog post with some minor modifications so here we go.

I'm still very happy with it. In fact, I'm so happy with it that I've given my Sensation Xe to the wife and taken her Desire as I'm barely using my phone any more and she's benefitting far more from the improved phone.
I've replaced the default keyboard with the Swift Key keyboard which is excellent (possibly even better than the HTC one!) I've also installed Ultimate Rotation Control as the fixed portrait homescreen is, frankly, stupid and particularly annoying when switching between two apps that you want to use in landscape.

I've opted to not use a screen lock code/face recognition as I prefer being able to get in to things quickly (kind of defeats the purpose of Google Now I feel if it's many clicks to access it). Instead I'm using App Lock on my mail app to comply with my own IT security policies :)

Google Now's pretty clever. My only complaint is that it doesn't do train times in Edinburgh, only bus times. I still think it's got potential to grow a huge amount though.

The lack of Flash is a bit pants. Not because I want to look at flash website particularly, but because the iPlayer app doesn't work. I presume that the BBC are working on a non-flash version for Android (presumably the iPad version is non-flash) but it's not here yet. In the meantime I've installed FireFox Beta and the Flash apk and that's working for the most part, but it's a bit clunky and not how I ideally want to be using this device.

What else? Err... Okay, bought a nice cover and stylus combo from Amazon for a tenner. It's this one:

Although would probably have bought this one if it had been half price at the time I was looking (which it is now):

The cover's quite nice as it has two angles - a shallow one for typing and a steeper one for 'consuming content'. If you're wanting to use it for taking notes, an external bluetooth keyboard might be better but I'm finding Evernote/Skitch adequate at the moment.

It needs more apps developing for it that take advantage of the screen size. There's a few apps that I'd normally have that aren't available for it yet. Amazon's a good example of that although the website is easily accessible at this screen size through the Chrome Browser. Nice feature of Chrome actually - if there's two links close together and, when you click, you don't quite hit either/hit both, it shows a close up of the area to let you click again.

As a bit of a laugh while we were away recently, I tried to use it for Sat Nav by downloading some maps for use offline. It doesn't work though - it needs an active internet connection to plot the route. I don't know how well it would work if you started the navigation before you left home and then carried on from there. Presumably okay but, honestly, it was just for a laugh - nowhere to mount a 7" tablet in my car just now.
For internet out and about I'm using the phone as a hotspot and that seems to work great. Finding it preferable to use the tablet bounced off the phone than just use the phone.

So, that's essentially where I am now. To wrap up, I'd like to answer a question I posed a while back -namely, are apps as relevant to tablets? Well, having had my tablet for a while it's an overwhelming YES from me. Whilst many website are wonderfully functional, they're not all designed to be interacted with via a touchscreen. A great example is GMail. I thought it would be a strong contender for abandoning the app, but it's just not as convenient. Using the web interface really underlines how much thought has gone into making the App clean and easy to use with minimal presses; using the web front-end quickly becomes frustrating.

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