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.

Read: Android 4.2 Jelly Bean: Everything You Need to Know.

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The Nexus 7 Android 4.2 Jelly Bean update has arrived.

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.

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And given how well done Jelly Bean is, that’s saying a lot.

Overall Performance

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

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.

Bugs

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.

Multiple Users

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.

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Multiple user accounts might be my favorite feature, thus far, from Android 4.2

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

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.

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Quick Settings are exactly that, quick access to settings you use 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.

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Lock screen widgets are a nice touch.

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

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 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.

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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.

Comments

  1. JerryK says

    Have you checked new clock app? It is fully functional, with timer, stopwatch, alarms and world time (two first world time cities also show up on lock screen under the local time).

  2. Andy says

    “When Google announced Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, I immediately became excited. ”

    My condolences on the lack of meaning in your life.

  3. Rils says

    I updated today and the Kindle app duplicated all my book to be both Mobi and Embp, now I can’t get rid of them.

  4. Scott says

    You forgot to mention the absolute best part of the 4.2 update being left out for the Nexus 7. The fact that Miracast was advertised with every mention of the 4.2 update and is no where to be found is very “apple” like. With no HDMI out port, not having Miracast is a big blow to the 7.

  5. muralidharan says

    most of them complaints about android 4.2 on n7.

    - bluetooth issue
    - keyboard with browser issue
    - all apps hung

    so better wait for next update from google – android.
    4.2 is not good for nexus 7.

  6. drgasmo says

    4.2 is laggy on Nexus 7. Unless there was a feature you really wanted do not update. It also has small ugly cosmetic changes. Keyboards glitch out more often now as well. Some apps broke (This was expected)

  7. theoldsignpost says

    I love my Nexus, but oh Lord, it is now too laggy and slow to use, took 10 mins to create a new user, everything crashes, system process thingy crashes, launcher crashes. Google either did not test this in real-world usage or they have just willfully released a crap product.

    Oh one more thing, this nonsense about the Nexus 7 not having a back camera – “Lack of a rear camera hurts” – does it? Really? I had two iPads before switching to Android, never, ever, ever used the camera. A camera on a device that massive in the 21st century is ridiculous, I’ve seen people using tablets as cameras – they look ridiculous – use your damn phone for photos and stop whinging – it’s a tired argument. If I want to take a photo, I’ll opt for a small device – not something like a concrete slab!

    • Paulo says

      Same here… After official update to 4.2 my beloved N7 lags a lot. And I get lots of crashes. It’s a huge stability downgrade from 4.1. My advice would be to stay away from it, for now.

    • Mobilephile says

      If the camera’s there people will use it, there shouldnt be a concern of what others think. Just like Bluetooth headsets were ridiculous back in the day, as is phones nowadays with jumbo screens. Its technological progression, get use to it.

      With the proper apps and data, to some people their tablets are their phones.

  8. compdoc says

    Apps crashing after a os update are to be expected since the apps will need small updates to fix’ ,Firefox crashing constantly is already fixed and I’m sure others are already being worked on. If you are getting lag after the update your better off to do a backup and do a factory reset this solved any issues i had and the system is running buttery smooth with everything restored.

  9. Rich says

    I was interested to get the update, but now I’m regretting it…

    As of about 2pm yesterday, I had 47% battery life at install time. After install, I was down to 43%, and plugged in to charge so I could get through class (until 10pm). Unplugged at 5:30pm with 87% battery. By the time I got to campus at 6:10pm, I was down to 32% and an hour later the phone was completely dead.

    Got home at around 10:30, plugged in immediately, and was at 6% when I went to sleep at ~12am. Woke up at 5am, still at 6%. I’ve had it on the charger since getting to work and it seems to be charging normally now, but I’m not happy with whatever the update did in that respect. It’s never happened before, and it’s likely not just coincidental…

  10. Susan Davis (@AgileSue) says

    My battery life is drastically worse since installing. I normally go more than a day between charges on my Galaxy Nexus. Something about 4.2 is making it eat through power very quickly; I drain all the way down to zero (and have had my phone power off on me) in less than four hours.

    Recommendation: do not install this update until a patch appears to fix the battery life problem.

  11. Stacy says

    My battery life has been pretty bad as well. I noticed today this “Daydream” option under display. I can’t find much on it that makes sense so I don’t understand it but I disabled it and have hopes that it will help with the battery.

    • JerryK says

      Daydream activates when your device is docked or connected to charger, so in normal use your device will go to sleep mode before Daydream has any chance of kicking in.

  12. JerryK says

    Guys,

    Why are you posting about problems with your phones in response to the post about Nexus 7? It is well known fact that crappy software added to Android distribution by phone companies is unable to handle system updates – you have to backup data and do clean install or factory reset followed by data restore if you want to have usable phone. I survived phone system upgrades (2.1->2.2->2.3->4.0) only thanks to following this simple rule.
    That being said, all upgrades on Nexus 7 (4.1.0->4.1.1->4.1.2->4.2) were flawless so far. And I do not consider a couple of seconds of delay while switching users a problem – if you expect it to be instantaneous, you have no idea what workload OS has to deal with in a case like this.
    Additional remarks for “online fever” sufferers: if you have to be constantly logged into your Facebook, Twitter, chat app, Skype, Google Voice, etc. – expect your battery usage climb after any system updates. Creators of those app think that it is absolutely necessary to exchange data with servers every couple of minutes and you have to either log out or turn off unessential services (like constantly running photo uploaders in social apps) to preserve data. It is also good idea to remember about configuring your mail app – do you really have to sync all accounts every 5 minutes? You and your phone will feel better if it happens every 30 minutes or even every hour.

    • IceDreama says

      I never experienced any lag with the update. I only started experiencing lag the minute I put music on my device. I have no idea why but I wiped my device and it worked flawlessly. Added music again and suddenly I have this epic lag. And yes, it is epic.

  13. Kindroid says

    The number ONE best thing about the Android 4.2 on Nexus 7…..is that it came to the Nexus 7 straight away. No waiting for Samsung or Verizon to send out the update….usually months after Google release. I so want Motorola to do the next Nexus phone…Razr MAXX HD plus plus plus in Nexus clothing.

  14. Sparks says

    i got the update yesterday and my device is noticeably slower. I don’t have multiple profiles or anything. But it seems to take an extra second to do pretty much everything. And the keyboard is a mess.

  15. Rich N says

    Why couldn’t they offer Photosphere? Surely I could turn the screen the other way and use the front facing camera and it either beeps at me to indicate it has captured enough of a view or a could pause the capture? After all its capturing a collection of images….
    Never mind – I think id hate to take pictures with a tablet anyway… Guess I’ll continue with DSLR and Microsoft ice for now…

  16. Paul StJohn Mackintosh says

    Since the update, I haven’t been able to update my apps or get new ones through the Play Store. Every time I try to download I get an error message. It’s infuriating. And clearing the cache and data out doesnt help.

  17. MidCat says

    I HATE, and I really mean it, I HATE the new update! I need to rollback to 4.1!! If this was supposed to be an update, it is now a serious drawback! THIS HAS GOT TO BE A JOKE! Everything is wrong! Lock screen clock is so annoying, Applications taking forever to load, many of my applications not working correctly, others not compatible!

    My main calendar application: JORTE just doesn’t work anymore! I will NEVER install another update until I am sure it will not mess up my tablet ever again!!

    If my Nexus 7 would have been acting like it is right now when I first got it, I would have return it right away! I feel robbed!

  18. smr says

    Nothing bad experienced with the upgrade so far. If anything, multi-tasking got faster and smoother. Also, the swype keyboard is interesting. No noticeable change in battery life.

    Typing on my nexus 7 with android jellybean 4.2 ;-)

  19. targus28Matt says

    Feeling extremely frustrated, angry that google have released such a poor update with many issue. Why the hell don’t they test these updates before release? 4.2 update has seriously put me off the nexus 7, laggy, sluggish, keyboard doesn’t show up in chrome browser, stuff crashing, isnt this thing ment to be quad core? what the hells going on? My 5 year laptop performs batter than this, i HATE using my tablet now, HATE it

  20. targus28 says

    Had to do a full reset in settings, lost alot of data because backing up was too much of a hassle, 4.2 still there, seams to be working fine now, althought ive had yourtube app crash on me

  21. J says

    I had that problem as well. You need to remove your Google account and re-add it in order to resolve it.

  22. Ben says

    Practically ALL of my apps crash with this update. I played with the new features, but they don’t outweigh actual WORKING apps. I downgraded this morning and everything is back to normal. I’ll just wait.

  23. anonymous says

    Rils: embp (encrypted mbp) are notes and bookmarks encrypted files, developed last moth by Kindle so they cannot be read without using Kindle. They were previously “mbp” files. Sad movement Amazon, sad.

  24. Erwin Werner TEICHMANN says

    Nexus7 sucks!!! Just bought one and I can’t connect it to any ad hoc hotspot. Is really something to think about if you don’t want the 3G/4G version. I paid 250 euros for it and can’t do a thing that any Chinese tablet can do for U$ 50!

  25. ClarkBar says

    The screen dimming is because automatic brightness is turned on under display settings and it is adjusting the brightness based on how much light is hitting the sensor. I had this turned off and the upgrade turned it back on, just disable it if you don’t like it.

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