Android 4.2 on Nexus 7 Review: First Impressions and Performance
When Google announced Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, I immediately became excited. Not because it was a complete overhaul to what I consider to be the best Android operating system to date but because of the little nuances that Google added to Jelly Bean. And finally, after a bit of a wait, I received the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean update for my Nexus 7 last night. Did it match up with my excitement? Read on as I present my first impressions of the Nexus 7 Android 4.2 Jelly Bean update.
Yesterday, Android 4.2 Jelly Bean began rolling out for the Nexus 7 and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone. Both updates seem to be rolling out relatively slow as I’ve heard from many Nexus 7 owners who have yet to receive the update from Google.
Fortunately, last night, I was prompted to download and install the Nexus 7 Android 4.2 Jelly Bean update which I did without hesitation given my excitement and the features that it promised.
Thus far, I am finding Android 4.2 to be a fantastic update but one that certainly did not deserve the Key Lime Pie name. Don’t expect any massive changes to Jelly Bean on the Nexus 7. However, instead, expect some improvements that will make your Jelly Bean experience a much better one than it already was.
And given how well done Jelly Bean is, that’s saying a lot.
With Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, Google promised an extremely fast user interface, buttery smooth it said. It delivered. With Android 4.2, it made no such performance promises and rightfully so. Android 4.2 picks up where Android 4.1 left off. It’s extremely fast, it’s smooth and it’s easy to use. Moving about my different home screens is an extremely fluid process with Android 4.2.
In addition, features like multitasking, opening up applications, web browsing and really just doing a ton of stuff at once on the Nexus 7 all work great. I have no experienced any sluggishness with Android 4.2 and I probably have the quad-core processor to thank for that.
Overall, expect little difference from Android 4.2
Battery life appears to be normal, as in, nothing has changed from Android 4.1. So that means Nexus 7 owners will still get good battery life on their tablet even with the addition of the new features. Often times, a new update can have disastrous effects on the battery life of a device so it’s nice that nothing catastrophic occurred with the Nexus 7 update.
In fact, I might be willing to bet that it might actually be better than the battery life found in Android 4.1. I’ll have to wait and see though.
Other than that Google Talk bug that was taken care of, I haven’t stumbled upon anything unusual as far as bugs are concerned. Keep in mind, I’ve used it for less than 24 hours so it’s possible that something may crop up. But so far, so good. That’s extremely satisfying for an Android update which often bring some nasty bugs along for the ride.
So how about the actual features of Android 4.2, how do they stack up? Let’s break them down.
Android 4.2 brings an extremely useful feature to tablet users in its new multiple user account switching. Multiple Users as I call it is going to be a fantastic addition for not only myself, but for the many others that share a device with a significant other or family members.
In my case, my girlfriend often uses it for quick web browsing or to check email when she doesn’t have her iPad around or handy. With Multiple Users, I am able to give her her own space on my Nexus 7 so that she can plop down the widgets and applications that she uses most. This way, we avoid cluttering up my Nexus 7′s home screens while making her experience a much smoother one when she logs in.
This may end up being my favorite feature of the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean update for the Nexus 7.
Gesture Typing for Keyboard
Google has added Swype-like gestures to the stock keyboard in Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. As someone who has never really used Swype or any of its alternatives, it’s a little foreign to me. I just never felt comfortable using it and given that my job requires me to type fast and accurately, I’ve just always been accustomed to finding all the letters with my fingers.
I may never use the gesture function on the regular but I’ll tell you this. It’s extremely accurate and simple to use in Android 4.2. Simply swipe your finger to letters of the word you’re trying to spell out and the keyboard gets it right a majority of the time.
I think once I get some more practice in I may end up using it more.
Quick Settings in the Notification Bar is like nectar from the Google Gods. I have been waiting for something like this ever since I picked up my Galaxy Nexus back in 2011 and finally, it’s here.
The feature is pretty basic but it’s extremely useful. Swiping down from the far right of the Notification Bar brings you to a menu that offers up all of the settings that many Nexus 7 users, like myself, change most.
From rotation lock to Wi-Fi to Airplane Mode, it’s all here to be changed. It even has a shortcut to the battery so that you can monitor your usage. Again, extremely small addition but boy is it going to get used a lot.
Lock Screen Widgets
Another useful feature that Google added with Android 4.2 are lock screen widgets which are exactly what they sound like. Widgets that appear on your home screen. You can add things like the calendar, your Gmail, the date and more.
I’ve found the Gmail widget on the lock screen to be especially useful given that it allows you to take a quick peek at the new email in your inbox without having to actually open the app itself.
Having the date right there, front and center, is also a nice touch as well.
Daydream is Google’s new screen saver that will show everything from colors to Google Currents news stories to photos from your device. I haven’t really used it much and I doubt I will.
Google Now, Google’s predictive software that can tell you the weather before the start of the day or traffic before you leave the house has been useful but not mind blowing. I don’t rely on it too much. However, with its new features, especially the fact that it can track packages (I order off Amazon quite a bit) means that I might be using it a bit more with Android 4.2.
Lack of a Rear Camera Hurts
One of the features that I was most excited about, Photo Sphere, simply does not exist with the Nexus 7 because it doesn’t have a rear camera. Asus and Google didn’t include one so they could keep the cost down.
This is really the first time that I’ve truly wanted a rear camera on the Nexus 7. I think I’ll live but those 360-degree photos simply look awesome and I can’t wait to try them with my Galaxy Nexus.
Should You Upgrade?
In a word, absolutely. If not for the multiple user functionality alone. Android 4.2 Jelly Bean is not mind-blowing in any way, but it will offer some tools that you will find yourself going back to over and over again.
For me, it even reinvigorated my interest in using Google Now, something that I never thought would happen. So if you own a Nexus 7 or a Galaxy Nexus or a device getting Android 4.2 in the future, my recommendation is that you don’t hesitate. Download and install Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, you’ll be glad you did.