The new device is very, very fast. It has the highest resolution display of any 10-incher on the market. The styling is restrained, but attractive. The case is lightweight and thin. The camera and the front-facing speakers are solid. The user interface is mature and polished, and the Nexus 10 provides the most pleasant experience I’ve ever seen on a big-screen Android tablet.
But, unfortunately, the same dark cloud hovering over all larger Android tablets also pains the Nexus 10: a lack of apps. There simply aren’t enough tablet-specific apps available on Android, and no matter how swift or shiny or sexy your hardware is, that really stings. It’s the apps that make the tablet.
It makes the Nexus 10′s primary mission — jump-starting Android’s 10-inch tablet ecosystem — seem all the more daunting. While there are more than 700,000 apps built for Android, most of them were built with phones — not tablets — in mind. Google has been diven to publicly pleading with developers to build the tablet-optimized apps everyone with a Transformer Pad or Galaxy tablet has been dreaming about.
The Nexus 7, Google’s phenomenal 7-inch device, has set a high bar for the Nexus 10. Asus has already sold millions of units and is expecting to see monthly sales top 1 million. While it faces the same lack-of-tablet-app problem as the Nexus 10, its $200 price tag, gorgeous display and monstrous power make it a more compelling buy. Also consider the Nexus 7′s diminutive size, which not only makes it better for using with one hand, reading, and for keeping nearby at all times, but also makes using stretched-out phone apps less painful. But on a 10-inch tablet, stretched phone apps are non-starters, and the software drought is much tougher to ignore.
There are dozens of examples of why this is a problem, but just take a look at Twitter. On the iPad, it’s beautiful. A series of sliding panels display tweets, user profiles and trending topics. On the Nexus 10 (and any Android tablet for that matter), you get a stretched-out phone app with tons of wasted white space. Text is small and tough to read, and the overall user experience can generously be described as unimpressive.
Google knows how to make compelling tablet apps. Look at the Google+ app on both the iPad and any Android tablet. It’s a superior experience, with large, high-resolution photos and slick side-scrolling navigation that feels more like an interactive magazine than a regular old social network. It’s a beacon to the developer world: This Is What’s Possible.
If consumers buy the Nexus 10 in droves, developers will have clear incentive to make more tablet-tailored Android apps. If more exciting apps are made, more consumers will buy large Android tablets.