Many of these tweaks annoyed me greatly, since I was accustomed to the features offered on Android 3.x/Android 4.0 tablets; they made it more difficult to reach some features, and I prefer the simplicity of a tap versus a pull-down shader for accessing more menu options. Google says that the former layout should be what we see on future 10.1-inch Android 4.1 tablets, but I missed that design on the 7-inch size. I did like the new set of Play widgets for surfacing content from My Library, My Books, My Magazines, My Movies, and My Music, but I was less satisfied with the recommendations widgets. The beauty of Android is that you have the choice to customize the home screen, and you get customization in spades. Widgets are more resizable now; and in addition to the Google Play widgets, you get a handy new widget for quick access to wireless, rotation, and brightness controls--plus another one for using Android 4.1's new music identifier. The music ID worked successfully with most of the music I threw at it, struggling only with beat-heavy areas of dance tracks and some obscure world music choices from Croatia, Japan, and Poland.
At the top of the home screen sits the Google Now bar, with a handy introduction to the Google Now search services, and a microphone icon for initiating voice searches.
One more change for the better: The Google Nexus 7's native image gallery has improved image rendering as compared with Android 4.0 and 3.2. I noticed that images regained full sharpness more quickly than before, a critical feature when you actively use the gallery to show off your pictures.
Unfortunately, Nexus 7 also shows one of Android uglier sides--the pain of OS and device fragmentation. I encountered some tablet apps that wouldn't work on the Nexus, raising the old issues involving Android's app availability and compatibility. Android 4.1 goes a long way toward improving Android's usability--in spite of the aforementioned portrait mode and nav button mess--but it doesn't solve some of the underlying problems, either.