Two years ago, the 2013 Nexus 7 was launched with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean and the highest resolution display on a 7-inch tablet. A lot has changed in just two years. We had Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, Android 4.4 KitKat, Android 5.0 Lollipop, and now we have stock Android 6.0 Marshmallow running on the 2013 Nexus 7. So let’s find out what’s new with Android 6.0 Marshmallow as well as how it runs on this two year old device.
With stock Android 6.0 Marshmallow, we have several design changes to the lock screen. The clock widget has a modern new font and we have access to Google Voice commands in the lower right hand corner. One major difference between stock Android 6.0 Marshmallow on the Nexus 7 and the Nexus 9 is that it doesn’t come pre-loaded with the Google Now Launcher on the Nexus 7. For whatever reason, it just wasn’t included in the build. So the home screens and the app drawer will look a lot like Android Jelly Bean if you flash Android 6.0 Marshmallow on your Nexus 7. You will want to download and install the Google Now Launcher to get that complete Marshmallow experience, which is what I did. You’ll see that we now have wallpapers and the app drawer itself. It scrolls vertically as opposed to horizontally. With the fresh install, there will be about 26 pre-installed Google apps.
What’s really neat is that all the special new features of Android Marshmallow can still be found on the 2013 Nexus 7. So this includes Google Now on Tap. If you hold down the home button, Google will provide you relevant information based off the popular people, places or things you are viewing. It’s pretty great. I haven’t actually used this feature as much as I like simply because I forget that it’s there. But when I do use it, it is pretty useful.
With Marshmallow, there comes a new memory section baked into the settings. From here, you can view how much memory is being used overall as well as how much memory is being used by each app. Since the Nexus 7 (2013) has 2GB of RAM, you’ll really want to monitor this section to make sure anyone one app doesn’t slow down the performance of the entire device. In addition, there’s a battery optimization area in the settings which allow you to view apps that are optimized or not optimized for your device. So it’s pretty straight-forward. The optimized apps will save you battery life while the non-optimized apps will drain your battery.
One of the biggest new changes though, found in Android 6.0, and has to do with permissions. So you’ll notice when you download an app, it won’t ask you to accept a big list of permissions. Instead, it’ll ask for your permission to access a certain area of your device as needed. So if you upload a photo to Facebook or Twitter, those apps will ask you to grant your permission to access the camera or photos. It really helps keep your device more secure. It’s also nice knowing exactly what areas of your device and app has access to.
If the Nexus 7 had a fingerprint scanner, you would also see some apps ask for your fingerprint to access certain information like Android Pay. But with the Google Now Launcher installed and running, you’ll see all the lovely Material Design animations from Android Lollipop. The volume controls do, however, have a fresh new look. There’s a nice Material Design dropped in menu that gives you access to notification, media, and alarm volumes. But that’s really what makes up Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
The device, as a whole, still runs very, very well on this 2-year old device. It’s kind of funny. Every time an old device of mine gets updated to a fresh, new OS, it really renews a whole new life into it. It makes you want to use the device more and more. To give you an idea of the performance after the update, GeekBench 3 gives the 2013 Nexus 7 a single-core score of around 600 and a multi-core score of around 1900 or 2000. It’s not that impressive compared to devices of 2015. But with stock Android, it still runs very, very smooth.
I did however notice some animation inconsistencies here and there. Sometimes animations would be buttery smooth, other times they would skip and lag a little bit. If you’re rocking the Nexus 7 (2013) and are running Android 6.0 Marshmallow, let me know what you think of the experience. How do you think it compares to Android 5.1 Lollipop?