After so many years of a largely cohesive, even predictable software support strategy for Nexus products, Google’s new two-brand policies might take some getting used to.
The Pixel and Pixel XL aren’t merely N5X and N6P sequels with altered names, or phones “made by Google” which the search giant intends to advertise more aggressively, better distribute around the world, and generally bring closer to a mainstream audience.
The Snapdragon 821-powered handhelds are also designed to make superior use of exciting new Google features and services like the conversational Assistant or 24/7 live customer care. These goodies, alongside unlimited Google Photos hoarding of pics and vids at original quality, Smart Storage, a number of camera-specific tricks, and yes, even the Pixel Launcher will reportedly remain exclusive to the Pixel/XL duo.
Meanwhile, the best Nexus 5X, 6P, 6 or 9 owners can hope for are relatively timely updates to a watered-down Android 7.1 Nougat build, with highlights including Night Light, Touch/display performance improvements, a fingerprint swipe down gesture, Daydream VR mode, manual storage manager, and a bunch of developer features.
Speaking of, Google apparently plans to only release dev previews of the Assistant-barren 7.1 version this year, with public OTA rollouts of fully polished UI enhancements beyond 7.0 following sometime in early 2017. Let the Nexus rage flow!