7 reasons Google's Nexus 7 beats the iPad

The Google tablet's advantages in flexibility, usability, and form factor might make you ditch your iPad

7 reasons Google Nexus 7 beats the Apple iPad

I gave my iPad to my wife. It wasn't (just) because I love her. I was given a Google Nexus 7 to try and found it did all the things I needed from the iPad. It's more flexible, more satisfying for my travel- and information-centric life, and -- most importantly -- offers a far better form factor. I take it with me everywhere. Here are 7 reasons I gave my iPad away for a Nexus 7.

More convenient e-reading

The Google Nexus 7 has the perfect form factor, about the size of a trade paperback, and the folio case turns the tablet on and off automatically. The screen is clear and easy to read, even outdoors, and I have access to multiple bookstores, including comic books. My reading has picked up in a way it never did with the larger, less convenient iPad. Reading magazines on the Nexus 7 is a surprisingly good experience. And with Google Play, Amazon Kindle, B&N Nook, a PDF reader, and several smaller book sources, there's a wide range of content available.

The beauty of widgets

I have every application I could need on both my iPad and on my Nexus 7. But when I want to quickly check my calendar, check a voicemail, see what's new in my mailbox, or see the status of any of the apps, I have to open them, switching from full-screen app to full-screen app. But on my Nexus 7, Android has desktop widgets in addition to icons, so I can flip between all my information sources quickly and casually.

Better content sharing

When I'm consulting Web pages, reading RSS feeds, checking Facebook or Google+, or whatever else, I often want to take notes or send links to others. On my iPad, this involves using the cut/paste mechanism and switching apps via the homescreen, and inevitably I find it takes multiple attempts. On the Nexus 7, there's an integrated Share function in every application that gives access to pretty much every other app to which clippings can be sent. Easy!

App freedom of choice

On the iPad, everything I run has to be vetted by Apple. That means nothing that competes with them in ways they don't like, as well as very little open source software. On the Nexus 7, there are multiple app stores; I have used two. First there's the Amazon App Store, which gives me access to their Free App Of The Day and their full catalog for the Kindle Fire.

The other is F-Droid, a library of free and open source software that lets me see which apps protect my privacy and software freedoms. Not only do I have all the apps I have ever needed, but also I know that none of my suppliers can lock me in and their competitors out.

App selection

This is really a "no worse than" point. Nexus 7 has all the apps I could want and more, including the puzzle and word games I favor. All the same productivity apps I wanted on the iPad are available as Android apps, too. The image here shows, from left to right, QuickOffice, Evernote, and Documents to Go, and in the middle is the icon for IBM Symphony Viewer, so I can still read LibreOffice ODF documents. Plus, I like the look and feel of the social media apps on the Nexus 7, including Skype, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Google integration

A huge benefit of the Nexus 7 is the Google integration. It has the Chrome browser, and with it comes a connection back to my desktop, so log-ins and tabs are shared, as well as smoothly integrated single sign-on to apps requesting Google credentials. Add to that excellent integration with calendars, contacts, emails, photographs, and every other part of my life Google mediates -- all without the subscription needed for iCloud on the iPad -- and life is extremely simple.

One innovation I like in Jelly Bean is the Google Now app, which uses information about my location and searches to suggest things I'll find useful to know, like journey times and flight details.

Freedom to leave

Finally -- and to me most important -- when I tire of the Nexus 7 and something better comes along, I will have a huge range of choices because the Android platform is sufficiently open to allow many device vendors, many application vendors, and even competing visions (such as Kindle Fire) to take hold.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.