Google had quite a day yesterday, between Chromecast, a new Nexus 7 tablet, and Android 4.3. But one of the unsung victories from yesterday’s announcements is the fact that Android 4.3 finally makes the ASUS Nexus 7 usable once more.
As most people know, the original Nexus 7 tablet was unveiled at Google I/O in 2012, running the latest version of Android, which was revealed to be 4.1 (Jelly Bean). This was also when Google unveiled Project Butter, whose sole intent was to make everything about the Android experience fluid and as smooth as butter. As a previous owner of both the Transformer Prime and the Transformer Pad Infinity, I personally marvelled at just how smooth Android 4.1, 4.1.1, and 4.1.2 was on the Nexus 7, especially when compared to the stuttery, generally poor performance that I experienced on both Transformer tablets.
Then along came Android 4.2 in November of last year, and everything changed. My Nexus 7 struggled to keep up with the simplest of tasks. Updating apps from the Google Play Store caused everything else to freeze. Receiving multiple notifications caused the tablet to lag uncontrollably, and no amount of rooting and tweaking seemed to help. (I’m told that custom ROMs like CyanogenMod made a huge difference, but I kept my Nexus 7 stock.) I often found myself wondering where Project Butter went, and my tablet went from daily use to long stretches of just sitting in my nightstand drawer – I just didn’t want to deal with all the lag.
Every once in a while, I’d hear some tips on how to reduce the lag. I tried disabling Google Currents, turning off location access, and deleting multiple user accounts, but nothing worked. It was disappointing and, quite frankly, inexcusable.
That’s why I’m so happy to announce that Android 4.3 seems to have fixed the problem of lag. Whatever Google adjusted under the hood, it seems to be working – updating a bunch of apps from the Play Store only moderately slows things down now, and I can receive all the notifications in the world without a hiccup. Multitasking is a breeze, and I haven’t had to disable anything so far. It still doesn’t feel quite as buttery smooth as Android 4.1, but it’s close – and it’s certainly much better than Android 4.2 ever was. In fact, my tablet is finally fun to use again, and I no longer feel a need to throw it out and buy something else. I still think it’s inexcusable that it took Google this long to fix the problem, but at least I’m satisfied with the performance once again.
What have your experiences been like with Android 4.3 on the 2012 Nexus 7?