Tap the microphone on the search bar or hold down the home button and you can ask Google Now to search for the best restaurants in the area or for the name of the cast in "Nurse Jackie." The results will show up as cards in the app. But the uses extend beyond just search. You can ask Google Now for the weather in New York and it will state out loud -- in a much nicer and gentler voice than Siri -- the current temperature there. And it can do even more: It regularly shows the directions to locations you search for and once it learns your daily patterns it will show your weather, your favorite team's score, etc.
I found the service to be consistently accurate, however, it does require a web connection, so testing some of the other features on-the-go was challenging. The Nexus 7 isn't available with 3G or 4G service; there is only a WiFi model available. Additionally, the tablet comes with only 8GB of storage; you can upgrade to the 16GB version for $50 more.
But where Google is hoping you will spend most of your time on this tablet is in its newly revamped Google Play store, which is where you can buy books, movies, TV shows, magazines, music, and apps. In an attempt to go head to head with Apple's iTunes and Amazon's multimedia content offerings, Google has beefed up its offerings, but while there is a good amount of selection now, it lacks the breadth of the competition.
For instance I came up empty handed when I went to search for an episode of "Glee" and "Gossip Girl" in the store (don't judge my media choices!). Similarly, they didn't have some of the magazines I like to read, including People, Wired, and US Weekly. Nevertheless, the content that is in the store looks very nice on the tablet -- magazine images look very vivid and movies are crisp.
Although, there's a slight exception to that statement though when it comes to apps in the Google Play Store. While phone apps do look more acceptable on the smaller screen than on 10-inch tablets, they still aren't as compelling or immersive as the ones available for the iPad. As a whole, iPad apps are sleeker and take advantage of the large screen; apps like Twitter or Flipboard are good examples. (Google is hoping the Nexus tablet urges developers to start focusing more on tablet apps.)
And that's where paying more for a tablet will make the difference. The iPad continues to provide a nicer app experience and better screen. However, for $200 the Nexus 7 isn't only the best of the $200 options but it is really the best choice among any of the Android tablets thanks to its improved software and its top-notch hardware.
Of course, there still are a lot of things you can spend your $200 on, but the Nexus 7 is absolutely the best tablet you can get for that amount of cash.