Some thoughts on stock Android, rooting, and the Nexus 7
It’s been about two months since I got my Nexus 7, and I’ve quite enjoyed using the tablet during that time. Despite a few problems, including the screen lift issue that resulted in my having to get a replacement device, the tablet has still provided a great overall experience. However, the reason that I’m talking about it now is that I was tweaking some settings on the tablet and looking for a specific CyanogneMod setting, when I realized something: The tablet was still running the stock software, and I hadn’t noticed or cared.
This might not seem like a big deal to some people, but it is a little different for me. Every device I have is rooted and gets a new ROM, usually CyanogenMod, right after it comes out of the box. In fact, I would have returned my first Android device, the Droid 1, if I hadn’t found CyanogenMod tweaks and themes. So, ever since I started using Android, I’ve always disregarded even custom skin free stock in favor of a custom ROM, simply because they have more features, work better, and allow for more control.
I initially kept the Nexus 7 stock so that I could finish the review, but the fact that I kept it that way months after that without even noticing means that it is the first Android device which I have used in stock form for any amount of time, and liked. Once again, this might not mean much to some people, but to me it says that Android has reached a milestone. When I first started using Android, it was a great base OS on which to add tweaks, themes, and customizations to make it just right. It wasn’t all that great in stock form, but the potential to make something fast, beautiful, and powerful was there.
Now, it seems to me that Google has finally managed to take its good base OS, and craft it into a product that is polished and finished from the factory, and ready to give to more average consumers. I wouldn’t have recommended the original Droid to anyone who wasn’t planning on customizing it, but now I feel comfortable suggesting the Nexus phone and tablet to average consumers. Obviously, everyone’s mileage may vary, but the fact that I didn’t need to customize the Nexus 7 in order to make it work great has me personally convinced that Android is really ready to go mainstream.
Of course, having said all that, I’ll still be rooting my Nexus 7 in the next few days, so those of you who have one of the tablets may want to keep an eye out for it. If you don’t, last month’s Nexus 7 contest is over, but you can still enter to win yet another one by commenting through this month.