In the frenzy that was Google I/O a couple of weeks ago, Google announced their new tablet called the Nexus 7. Attendees to the conference got their devices that day, while for others the preorder page lists a ship date sometime soon. While I haven’t gotten my preorder yet, quite a few of those who got their device at Google I/O have been posting their impressions online. Although most of the information is standard stuff like specifications and preliminary reviews, there was one surprise feature in store found by someone who decided to take a magnet to his tablet.
In the video above, you can see in action what appears to be a magnetic sensor on the left bezel of the Nexus 7 that is programmed to turn the display on and off. It seems odd that Google hasn’t mentioned it in any announcements or spec sheets, but as you can clearly see it is there and works. One reason they may have avoided mentioning the feature is that Apple has a patent on the Smart Cover, so bragging about the feature could result in a ban like the one on the Galaxy Nexus.
ASUS has actually made a Smart Cover replica before for their Transformer tablets, but it wasn’t advertised much and didn’t sell many units. Perhaps with the Nexus 7, they decided to include the feature in the tablet’s hardware so that just in case they find a way to make a magnetic cover without getting sued into the ground by Apple they could release one. At least to me, the official Nexus 7 case on Google Play certainly looks like it could include smart cover functionality, so I wouldn’t be surprised if ASUS at least considered making a magnetic cover for the device.
Personally, I hope they make one simply because of how useful the cover actually is, and not necessarily to spite Apple. Anyways, even if Apple gets worked up about others using magnets to intelligently turn on and off a device’s display, ASUS can always point to RIM and their magnetic BlackBerry cases.