The Nexus 7 Google Tablet Fits Comfortably in Your White Coat

Iltifat Hussain, MD

Iltifat Husain, MD, went into his review of the Nexus 7 with low expectations, but there are two game changers about the device that might sway some medical professionals to opt for it instead of the iPad.

This article published with permission from iMedicalApps.com.

Even though iMedicalApps was founded on exclusively doing iOS reviews, we have been device agnostic for the last few years. We do reviews of Android and even Blackberry medical apps.

Although the majority of medical professionals use iOS devices, we’ve always kept an open mind to other platforms, even penning an editorial last year with the provoking title: “Why locked Android tablets will beat the iPad for Hospital use.”

When the Nexus 7 tablet was launched recently to much fanfare, we thought the Google tablet deserved a close look from a medical perspective.

My review of the Nexus 7 started with low expectations. Other than the great price point ($200 to $250), I didn’t know what the big fuss was about. A tablet smaller than the iPad, with a lower pixel display (albeit barely) and with a significant smaller app ecosystem.

So obviously, I’m not going to recommend this tablet to medical professionals right?

After almost a month with the Nexus 7, my assumptions were completely wrong. Much of this review compares the Nexus 7 to the benchmark tablet for medical professionals: the iPad. At the end I’ll discuss two game changers that might sway some medical professionals to opt for the Nexus 7 instead of the iPad.

This review will be physician-centric, focusing on the hardware, form factor, price and medical app ecosystem.

Hardware

Last year I penned a piece on why Physicians love Apple Hardware. It has a “medical grade” feel to it, something other hardware manufactures have rarely been able to emulate. Although the Nexus 7 doesn’t feel “medical grade” like the iPad, it does feel significantly better than the any other Android Tablet I’ve tried. It doesn’t feel cheap or plasticy in your hands.

Notably absent is a rear-facing camera. For those who take pictures of patient’s wounds or use their portable device to take pictures of interesting pathology, you will be missing out.

Although it doesn’t have the same pixel density as the iPad, the Nexus display is more than sufficient for reading medical literature and textbooks. The display is surprisingly beautiful compared to other Android tablets.

Apps

Most medical professionals know that Android’s app ecosystem is not on par with iOS. That said, most of the essential medical apps are there. For medical reference and prescription drug reference: Medscape, Epocrates and Micromedex. For cloud storage: Evernote and Dropbox. For PDF management: ezPDF Reader. Although there is definitely a dearth of PDF management apps, unlike the iOS ecosystem.

Unfortunately, groundbreaking apps such as the DrawMD series we covered in our Top 10 free iPad medical apps list are not available. In fact, most of the apps mentioned in our top 10 free iPad medical apps list are not available for the Nexus 7.

Initially, one of the most disheartening and lacking apps for the Nexus 7 was Citrix. I use Citrix on my iPad to access patient medical records, and although you can download the app on the Nexus 7, it had not been optimized for tablet form. This resulted in a sloppy user experience and the inability to properly look up patient records, even when trying to use a stylus pen. Luckily, Citrix just updated their app for the tablet form factor — although for many EMRs the smaller screen of the Nexus 7 still isn’t workable.

Apps that are merely “scaled up” is a trend you see with many of the apps you download for the Nexus 7. Most of them have been scaled up to fit on the Nexus screen, but not optimized for the form factor.

OS

Simply put, Jelly Bean is fun. The OS runs smoothly on the Nexus 7 without hiccups. From the initial screen shot of this review you can see that Jelly Bean allows you to customize your home screen a significant amount. Much of this is in the form of extremely useful widgets you can place on your home screen — a feature I’m shocked iOS hasn’t incorporated.

Also useful is Google Now, a feature that isn’t Siri-esque, but just as interesting and definitely more useful. I rarely use Siri on my iPhone 4s, and Google’s Now ability to have customizable cards is innovative. It can get kind of creepy though. For example, when you wake up in the morning, it can find out when you’re going to work and will tell you the best way to get to work — without any prompting on your end. The best way to see it in action is by looking at Google’s explanation.

Overall, it’s clear Android has matured significantly from it’s v2.0 days, and is definitely on par with iOS in its current iteration.

Click here to read about two game changers for medical professionals.