I know I bashed Google after last year’s Android tablet release of the Samsung Galaxy Tab, and I still stand behind that. In fact, the situation got worse. I ended up having to use the Android developer kit to reset the device every few weeks after it got stuck in an infinite boot loop. This was made worse by the fact that I’d bought a case and keyboard dock for the tablet, and I effectively had a brick on my hands. Though, it must be said that the Google IO units were prerelease specimens with custom firmware for developers.
In any case, things look much brighter this year. The Asus-built Nexus 7 is a solid unit and Android 4.1 addresses my main concern, namely the smoothness of the user experience. I’ve only had a chance to play around with it for a day, but it’s night and day compared to other Android devices I’ve used in the past. I’d even go so far as to extend that to the Samsung Nexus Galaxy that was handed out, too (but I' haven’t been able to use it as a phone yet since I don’t have a micro SIM to mini SIM adapter).
Now if there was only a public SDK for the Nexus Q so I could add it to my home automation system…
In a previous post, I gave my impressions on Android on tablets based on my experience with the pre-release Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 with Android 3.0. The final version has come out, along with the all-important Android 3.1 update. So how do things look now?
- The time zone issue has been resolved. I can now set the time and date without formatting the device.
- The word “phone” has been cleaned out, and I see “tablet” as expected.
- The worst Chrome rendering issues have been resolved.
Unfortunately, the worst problem, jumpy and unresponsive scrolling, still exists. This is of course a comparison against iOS, but the different is substantial. On iOS you don’t even notice you’re scrolling. On the Galaxy Tab, it’s like turning pages in a book that are slightly stuck together: irritating.
Google handed out a stack of Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablets at Google I/O 2011, and just like last year, I’m not impressed with Android. I got my first iPhone from a contest, and I’ve never been a fan of iTunes, but iOS is so much more user-friendly and refined. The experience has improved from my tests with last year’s Evo giveaway (wow, what a dud), but still not there. Here are some of the highlights:
- If you set “Network preferred” (or similar) to allow the device to set the time/time zone automatically during the initial setup, YOU CANNOT change the time zone manually without a factory reset!?!
- The device has a dual core processor, yet scrolling is less-than-refined and touch input seems slow, or at least not as responsive as iOS.
- Tablet-specific: The OS states “phone” in many places. For example, when you hold the power button, you get a “Phone options” dialog. I know I saw similar wording elsewhere, too.
- The device has two cameras, microphones, and such, and yet there is no Google Voice application available!
- Chrome has horrendous rendering issues when you scroll longer pages. I need to zoom in/out to get it to render the rest of the page.
Yes, yes. The device isn’t even on sale yet, but these issues seem to have more to do with the Android OS than the device.
The best feature so far has been the cloud/Google account integration for backing up settings (all the apps I’d installed got automatically reinstalled after the factory reset to get the damn clock to show the right time), syncing with Chrome and other Google services.