Since the programs inception, Google’s Nexus devices have represented the latest in Google’s Android operating system, always debuting with the latest version of Android and receiving official updates quickly and promptly. 2016’s version of Android, which is Android 7.0 Nougat, looks to be the first version in a while that didn’t land on all current generation Nexus phones at launch. Likely due to technical issues rather than something more sinister, Google’s product updates have always been timely on these Nexus devices and is one of the biggest reasons to purchase such a device. This year we’re not receiving any Nexus device though, instead we’re going to be getting a pair of devices from Google; the Pixel and Pixel XL.
These two new phones represent a massive change inside of Google, one that signals the end of the Nexus era and the beginning of a brand new type of device from the traditionally platform agnostic search giant. In fact this represents the first time that any Google phone will be receiving official features that aren’t tied to hardware, rather a series of software features that are much more in line with something from Samsung or Apple. Android 7.1 Nougat will be launching with both Pixel phones when they ship to pre-order customers on October 20th, however it seems that many of these exclusive features likely won’t be making it when the Android 7.1 update comes to Nexus devices in just a few short weeks. Google also looks to be dropping the update in the form of a developer preview instead of a straight update, giving power users and developers a method of previewing the update much like a major update of Android normally would.
One of the biggest features of Google’s Pixel lineup of phones is the Pixel Launcher, brand new launcher that’s clearly built upon the Google Now Launcher, yet offers a complete redesign of many familiar features, and more importantly the inclusion of Google Assistant. While Google Assistant will most certainly make its way to these updated Nexus devices, it’s not clear if this will be a full version of Google Assistant or one more in the line of Google’s Allo chat app, with its more limited preview of Assistant. Either way this signals a pretty clear change from Google HQ, one that’s willing to make more exclusive phones and quite possibly let faithful Nexus users wait a little bit longer for the latest update.