I think I’ve made it clear that I think Google’s Pixel phones are still going to be the best choice for Android purists who have long-been Nexus owners. I also fully understand that the price hike won’t ever be justifiable to many and that Google has pissed off some of its strongest supporters by shifting gears. But I think what should really be a major talking point, is how current Nexus owners seem to be getting the raw end of the whole deal.
Yesterday, Google showed us not only two new phones, they also showed us the next version of Android which happens to be 7.1. Under normal circumstances, that’s a big reveal for owners of Nexus devices because that means a major update (with new features) is on the way in the very near future. Except, well, not this time.
Google says that Android 7.1 will show up on Nexus phones (6P and 5X for sure) before the end of the year, initially as a developer preview. Keep in mind that there are three months left in 2016 and the Pixel phones launch on October 20 with Android 7.1. In other words, Google is saying that 7.1 is stable enough for its shiny new phones to run, but not your year-old Nexus. That’s a pretty terrible message to send, especially to those who have always been promised quick updates before anyone else.
On top of that, a handful of features shown off on the Pixel phones, like everywhere Google Assistant, the Pixel Launcher, Pixel’s fancy new camera app, and the subtle UI tweaks to the navigation buttons, aren’t coming to any other phones any time soon, including Nexus. This isn’t cool, Google. Don’t do this to Nexus owners.
My guess is that Google is about to do more than just a hardware shift with Pixel. I think they are about to take back a whole bunch of control over Android in the near future or least reduce talk of “Android” and sell a Google experience. That’s a much broader topic for another day, though.
What I’m getting at, in a round-about way, is that it sure seems like Google has reduced Nexus at this point in time to push Pixel, almost as if a neglected few remaining Nexus devices are a part of the pains associated with that shift I just mentioned. And that just shouldn’t happen. People just bought the Nexus 5X. They just bought the Nexus 6P. They bought these phones expecting the Nexus experience, which means updates and features first. Now, with Pixel, they aren’t getting that any longer and it sucks.