When Apple released the iPad Mini – jumping on board the 7″ tablet trend pioneered by Amazon and Google – they said Google’s Nexus 7 lacked good tablet apps. While Android may not have the selection of tablet apps available for Apple’s iPads, the Nexus 7 does have many great tablet apps that are optimized for the larger screen.
Whether you’re browsing the web, reading eBooks and articles, watching widescreen videos, playing games, or even using productivity apps, there are quite a few great Nexus 7 optimized apps you can use.
Chrome & Firefox
As with any Internet-connected device, you’ll probably be spending quite a bit of time in the browser. The Nexus 7’s default browser is Chrome, and it works just as it does on your desktop (although it doesn’t support extensions). Chrome is an excellent browser that syncs your bookmarks, history, and open tabs with Chrome on your computer, making it easy to start browsing on your computer and continue browsing on your tablet – or vice versa. If you’re a Firefox user, Firefox for Android is also excellent and supports Firefox Sync with Firefox on your computer.
Google Maps & Other Google Apps
Google’s included applications all take advantage of the screen, whether it’s Gmail’s two-pane email interface or Google Calendar displaying your calendar events. If you’re a fan of Google’s web apps, the included apps do not disappoint.
Rather than dwelling on all of the included apps, let’s take a look at the included Google Maps app. Google Maps is in a league of its own and is probably the best map application out there. Just witness the reaction of Apple users forced to use Apple Maps, which Apple called the “most powerful mapping service ever,” instead of Google Maps on their iPhones. Google Maps takes advantage of the extra space well. On the Nexus 7, the integrated GPS and ability to download map data for use offline makes Google Maps useful while you’re out and about. (The iPad Mini doesn’t have integrated GPS, so you’d be out of luck even if you installed a third-party map app.)
Tasks isn’t an official Google app, but it sure feels like one. Tasks brings Google Tasks to Android — for some reason, Google hasn’t done this themselves yet. The simple interface displays a two panes in landscape mode and a single-plane list in portrait mode. Tasks is slick, simple, and uses the screen space well.
If you plan to use your Nexus 7 for reading, Pocket is an amazing app. Install the Pocket browser extension on your computer and click the Pocket button whenever you come across a web page that you want to read later. The page will be automatically downloaded to the Pocket app on your Nexus 7. Whenever you’re in the mood to read, you can sit down with your Nexus 7, pull up the pocket app, and see a slick list of the web pages you want to read – complete with images. Open a page to view it in an optimized reading mode. Pocket is great in lots of situations, whether you want to read web pages while sitting on your couch at home or standing in a subway car without Internet access on the way to work.
Google includes their own Play Books application, which allows you to purchase books from Google Play and read them on your Nexus 7. However, there’s a good chance you already have an Amazon Kindle account, and Amazon’s Kindle app is excellent. You can download books for reading on the go and tweak your color settings (particularly useful if you prefer white-on-black for reading). The Nexus 7’s display offers more pixels-per-inch than the iPad Mini’s display, resulting in crisp, sharp text and a nice reading experience. It’s no e-ink display, but it’s a great way to read eBooks on a tablet. As a bonus, the Nexus 7’s 7” display is close to the size of an actual paperback book, so it’s easy to hold in one hand and read. Both Kindle and Pocket have an interface that gets out of your way while reading, allowing you to focus on the content.
If you use Mint.com to keep track of your finances, you’ll love the Android app. It takes advantage of the screen to show a lot of information and display high-quality charts and graphs. Mint’s Android app is beautiful and works well on the Nexus 7.
Popular news magazine app Flipboard also works well on the Nexus 7, providing news with high-resolution images and text that you can quickly flip through. The included Google Currents app is another good way to read new content from the web.
Netflix, Hulu Plus, and other video-streaming apps work excellently on the Nexus 7. They take advantage of the Nexus 7′s screen to display high-resolution, wide-screen videos. Netflix and Hulu Plus also both have interfaces that use the Nexus 7’s screen well when you’re looking for something to watch.
Evernote users will be pleased with the Evernote app for the Nexus 7. The app uses several panes, allowing you to easily browse your notes and create new ones.
TuneIn Radio allows you to stream online radio stations to your Nexus 7. Use it to browse and search for online radio stations, save your favorites, and listen all you like for free. It’s a great way of listening to music from the likes of SomaFM and other online radio stations. Music continues playing in the background when you leave the app and you can access playback controls from Android’s notification panel, allowing you to easily control playback without leaving your current app.
Tegra Games & Games In General
Games are one category of app that all seem to work well on the Nexus 7’s screen. Whether you’re playing Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, or any of the other great Android games out there, you’ll find that they work well. To discover more great games, check out our list of the best Android games.
The Nexus 7 has an NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor, which enables surprisingly good 3D graphics. Shadowgun THD, Riptide GP, Dead Trigger, Horn, and other Tegra games take advantage of the Tegra graphics to render 3D graphics that look amazingly good for a $200 tablet.
Do you have any favorite Nexus 7 optimized apps? Leave a comment and share your picks!