Earlier this year I took possession of a Google Nexus 7 tablet, fully expecting this diminutive slate to be something that I turned to when my iPad was out of reach, on charge, or I'd temporarily 'lost' it. Surprisingly, the Nexus 7 is becoming my go-to tablet.
So, what secret sauce does this small tablet have which is causing me to turn my back on Apple's flagship tablet?
See also: Best Android tablets (July 2013 edition)
First, I like Android. In fact, I really like Android. It's smooth, it's fast, and it's fluid, and, to borrow an Appleism, it "just works." I especially like the way that the operating system automatically takes care of updates, both operating system updates, and updates for my apps. I find the way that the operating system takes care of the admin itself whenever it is in Wi-Fi range t be a massive timesaver. It means that when I pick up the Nexus 7, I can start using it immediately as opposed to have to spend time fiddling with updates.
I see this one simple feature as giving Android, specifically the pure Android experience that Android offers, to be a massive BYOD advantage.
Another factor of the Android experience I like is the way it integrates with Google services. I'm a big user of Google services, so it's nice being able to get access to these quickly and simply. If you make use of Google services then this is a bonus. If not, then you might not care for it. For me, it's a huge plus point.
I also love the form factor of the Nexus 7.
I'd initially thought that a tablet with a 7-inch screen would be too small to do real work on, but it surprisingly isn't. Yes, I've replaced the stock on-screen keyboard with SwiftKey – which is a very nice keyboard that saves a lot of time because the predictive feature is very slick – but beyond that I've carried out very little in the way of customization. I purchased OfficeSuite Pro to allow me to work with a range of Office documents, and I don't find the 7-inch screen a deal-breaker unless I'm working on something particularly complex or elaborate.
I also like the hardware aspect of the form factor, specifically the lack of a physical home button such as that used by Apple on the iPhone and iPad. The on-screen buttons are nicer, feel more modern, and feel like they are more accessible than a physical button, especially when using the tablet in landscape mode.
Anyone who tells you that you can't create content on the Nexus 7 hasn't tried to, hasn't tried hard enough to do so, is some edge case, or is lying. I've created a ton of content on a wide range of tablets. Yes, you normally need to spend a few dollars on third-party software, but that's the case with all platforms.
Which brings me to apps. Anyone who's dabbled with Android knows that there is a lot of high quality apps available for Android, and many of these are cheap, or even free. The Google Play Store might not have as many apps as Apple has in its App Store, I don't find this to be much of a problem.
I'm also impressed with the build quality of the Nexus 7. There's no doubt that the iPad is a sexier device, it is also a lot more fragile. Despite being in a reasonably sturdy case, my iPad as picked up a number of quite horrific dents. My Nexus 7 on the other hand, has been dropped on a variety of surfaces but is still dent free. This is partly down to the Nexus 7 being much lighter than the iPad, but it is undoubtedly more robust than Apple's offering.
Finally, battery life is not shabby, offering me 10 hours of web browsing, and some 300 hours of standby. I'm more than happy with that.
If Apple doesn't raise its game with respect to the iPad, my next full-size tablet could be a Nexus.