There has been a lot of press today covering Android P and the first developer preview dropping. That is certainly news worthy because, honestly, it came a week or two earlier than expected. But what is not news is the fact that the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P and Pixel C tablet will not be getting Android P, officially at least. Google has made it very clear and very public when support for these devices would end, both in major releases and security updates.
While we can debate all day long if two years of software support is too short, it is the number that Google settled on and has published for support of devices. The only exception, and likely the way going forward, is the Pixel 2 lineup which gets three years of major updates. For the Nexus 5X and 6P, major build support ended in September 2017. That means Android Oreo was the last major build.
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The Google Pixel C, the latest Android-based tablet from Google, has quietly been removed from the Google Store. It signals the end of sales for the 2015 tablet that was met with mix results both from a sales and overall satisfaction perspective. The 10.2″ tablet was released in September 2015 and shipped with Android Marshmallow. It was upgraded last year to Nougat and the latest update to Oreo rolled out in October.
The Pixel C was power packed and from a specifications perspective, was hard to top. But it was released at a time when many were beginning to question the need for a tablet at all. Rumors at the time were pointing to Android apps coming to Chrome OS or, perhaps, a melding of the two (Project Andromeda) which made it curious about releasing a tablet at the time. Indeed rumors persist that the Google Pixel C was actually slated to run Chrome OS but was switched at the last minute to Android.
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So here’s a concept: A button that actually does something. For years, the “Check for update” button in Android pretty much did nothing. Sure you could hit it but the odds of you getting an update were pretty slim. Why? Because manufactures like Google, Samsung and others as well as carriers phase updates out to their customers. The result? The “Check for update” button was, by-and-large, useless.
That’s changing under Android Oreo, specifically for the Google Nexus and Pixel devices. Now when you tap that button in Settings>System>System Updates, it actually, really goes out to Google’s servers and download the latest OTA update. No waiting on phasing.
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Google has once again updated their support matrix for the Nexus and Pixel lineup of devices. Previously the company had outlined dates of when major updates and minor security updates would cease for the devices. There is nothing new here in that regard. What is new is the dates for the end of online and phone support for the devices. The good news, or at least the non-confusing news, is that online & phone support ends when security updates end on the devices.
Take the Nexus 6 for example. There are no guaranteed Android updates to the device since October 2016. No, Android O is not coming to the Nexus 6. Sorry, I loved it too. In October 2017, guaranteed security updates end and that is also when online and phone support ends for the device. Other devices follow this same timing.
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The 2nd and likely the last beta of Android Nougat 7.1.2 has begun rolling out to those enrolled in the Android Beta program. The update brings additional bug fixes and refinements to the first beta which, on the whole, is a bug fix and refinement release for Nougat. While there is no official word on when the general public will see 7.1.2, it is likely not far away. Generally the first beta was solid and this second appears to be smoothing out a few rough edges. It feels complete at this point.
While the focus is on bug fixes and refinements, this beta does bring a few new things to the table. First, for those of you with a Nexus 6P, you finally get the fingerprint scanner swipe action that has been on the Nexus 5X since the first beta. If you remember, the first beta for the 6P was delayed by about three weeks and didn’t come with the ability to swipe down and read notifications. That seems to have been addressed in this second beta.
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The Android team at Google has released the first Developer Preview of Android Nougat and with it comes a host of changes and improvements. The version is indicated as Nougat 7.1.1 with a build number of NFP10C and right now it is only available for the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P and the Pixel C. As you know, Nougat 7.1.1 will be shipping on the Google Pixel devices so this is very much a catch-up build for the Nexus devices and Pixel C. The good news is that there are a lot of changes and improvements in this build of Nougat. While Nexus devices won’t get the Pixel Launcher – for now at least – the changes that are in 7.1.1 do bring some of the Pixel features to these devices and it is well worth considering joining the beta program so you can get a sneak peak.
That said, it is beta. That means that you could run into issues with apps or other things with your phone if you do decide to install it. I’m far more comfortable in recommending this install however because it is an evolution of Nougat, not the wholesale version change from Marshmallow to Nougat. I’ve been running it on my Nexus 6P for about 24 hours now and haven’t run into any issues. If you decide to install it, the download is about 1.3GB so you’ll for sure want to make sure you are on Wi-Fi to avoid data usage.
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After yesterday’s Google event, we know that the new Google Pixel and Pixel XL will be coming with Android Nougat 7.1. Equally, we also know that some of the features of 7.1 will be exclusive to the Pixel lineup but for the Nexus devices and other devices, the water was left a bit murky. Thanks to the team over at Android Police, we have a little clearer picture of what is exclusive and what is not to the Pixel lineup. They have gotten hold of the 7.1 change long which details what is coming for each train. For Pixel devices, the new Pixel Launcher and Google Assistant are exclusive to the Pixel lineup. That is in line with what was expected and told to us yesterday at the event. Customer support via the new chat/screen share function is also an exclusive as is an updated Smart Storage that backs up photos to Google Photos in full resolution to recover storage. There are also improvements to the Pixel camera and the sensor software used in the Pixel devices.
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For those who have Nexus devices, the July Security Update for Android is now rolling out via an OTA update. The update, 2 of them this month, were released last week on July 6th along with factory images and OTA images that users could flash to their devices manually. With Google now pushing the updates out to Nexus devices, users will get the update as they usually do each month. If you recall, this month’s update was split into two parts. The first update, dated July 1st, was more a general fix for Android while the one dated July 6th was more driver specific updates for specific devices. Google’s stated intent was to get the first update out so all of their partners could update their devices quickly without having to wade through driver tests for things their their devices just don’t use.
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