In general, the amount of power drain felt relatively predictable, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. I didn't find myself reaching for a recharge while I was putting it through its paces, and I expect most users will have a similar experience.
A massive part of what makes the Nexus 7 the tablet that it is is of course the latest version of Android, Jelly Bean. The announcement of the device wasn’t just significant for its hardware and price point — and in some ways, the software it sports is really the main attraction.
Google took huge leaps forward in usability and design with Ice Cream Sandwich last year, and based on what I’ve seen in the latest version, the company shows no signs of slowing down when it comes to tweaking and refining this OS.
For starters, Project Butter makes a big difference. According to company reps, Jelly Bean now has a consistently higher frame rate for screen animations and movement than any previous version of the software. Additionally, the company has improved finger tracking, making touches more accurate and natural; historically, Android devices have lagged iOS just a hair for touch responsiveness, so this is a big deal.
In practice, Jelly Bean does seem smoother and cleaner than ICS, though I don’t think it’s a sea change coming from 4.0. If you were getting used to Android feeling like a complete and cohesive OS, this will only reinforce that feeling. But in general, things like multitasking and moving into and out of apps seem faster and more responsive, and those long waits for your app list to pop up seems to be all but killed.
There are other kinds of cleanup in the OS. For instance, the app selection dialog that lets you pick a handler for specific tasks is now much more visual. Roboto has also grown up a bit — Duarte told me that the company has created new weights for the font, and you can see Roboto Light all over the OS. It looks particularly fetching in the new, easier to read notifications.
Speaking of, notifications have undergone a big change, with window shade popups now being both actionable and expandable. That means you can see a better view of all the new email you’ve gotten, share images right from your notification bar, and even email groups you’re meeting with if you’re going to be late — all without going into an app. Expanded notifications can be opened and collapsed with a two finger gesture, but I wish Google would add a toggle to keep them all collapsed unless otherwise specified — sometimes it can be too much information at once. You can also long-press notifications to jump directly into the App Info screen, where you’ll be greeted with a checkbox to turn off all notifications for that app. It’s not the most elegant solution I can think of to manage notifications, but it works to quiet a noisy app.