I purchased a Google Nexus 7 last summer and purchased a Nexus 4 phone at the beginning of the year. I wanted to relate my experience with this rather famous but not well known Google product and the latest flavor of Android, called Jelly Bean. I normally am not fanatical about things like this, but having had a good experience with both and having had an iPhone since 2009, I thought I would put my two cents out there. I also want to elaborate on the whole Google experience through all its cloud services which together provide a phenomenal set of tools for distributed teams.
I originally purchased the The Nexus 7 so that I could start doing some mobile development with Unity and utilize my free Unity Android Basic license I picked up earlier last year. I have always had a PC and could not drop lots of money on a Mac just for the sake of playing with Unity mobile. I am really not happy that you can’t do iOS development on a PC, but that is Apple for you. Anyway, the Nexus 7 is a nice platform to test on and it is the same Tegra 3 chipset as the OUYA. So, I have been experimenting a bit with mobile development on it to see what can be done.
With the latest set of Nexus products and Jelly Bean, Google seems to have finally pulled off the experience we have always wished for with Android. I have found Jelly Bean to be clean, intuitive, and overall a fast and smooth interface. I actually find the iPhone clunky in comparison. For all the so called brilliance and simplicity in Apple’s products, they don’t really compare to this new version of Android.
I fondly wish for the day when all the carriers would ditch all the stupid customization and just ship stock Android. It would save everyone so much hassle and give a great uniform experience. The install base would be less fragmented between versions and this of course would promote more development on the platform.
Beyond the interface and equally important in my opinion is all of the services being delivered by Google that go way, way, way beyond anything Apple has now or can ever hope of producing in the years to come. Over the last year or two Google has been doing a massive reorganization and alignment of all its cloud based services. Everything is becoming connected and integrated and this is also visible out into the mobile space via Android.
I regularly use, Google Mail, Calendar, and Drive (Docs) and this is coupled with my public profile via Google+. Google Docs is amazing by itself – it is an entire cloud based office suite and stores everything in Google Drive. I can create documents, spreadsheets, drawings, presentations, or even just upload files and then share them through Google Drive. People can easily access and share documents this way which is invaluable for collaboration. Another major benefit is the same people you share with can also be organized in your circles on Google+ and you can do video Hangouts to meet as a group and share stuff with each other. Google services as a whole provides an incredible team and collaboration tool. There are also many other services along these lines like Sites, and Groups and so on.
I also use Blogger, YouTube, and Maps, and don’t forget Play, which now covers music, books, magazines, movies/tv, and apps (where it started). Play is fantastic primarily because it provides a killer app via the music component. I always found iTunes to be a colossal nightmare and I never wanted to open it up to do anything. And getting my own ripped CDs onto the iPhone was always a pain. After getting my Nexus 4, I literally had much of my music collection uploaded and working on Play in ten minutes. It is so simple and you can upload up to 20,000 songs for FREE! The interface for the music player is also extremely easy to use and intuitive and I can access my music on any of my devices and over the web!
So, my 2 cents, is to go Google with the pure Android experience! And if you plan to work on a distributed team, all of the Google services provide an invaluable set of free collaboration tools you won’t find anywhere else.