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Google is killing the Nexus line and vanilla Android with it

Published Aug 31st, 2016 6:50AM EDT
Google Nexus 2016 Google Phones

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This isn’t the first time when we hear such rumblings, but 2016 might mark the first year when Google doesn’t come out with a new generation of Nexus devices. That doesn’t mean Google decided all of a sudden that it doesn’t need a vessel to demo its newest mobile innovation. But the company is simply killing the Nexus branding, only to replace it with a new product family, one that would put Google front and center. But the worst thing about it seems to be that vanilla Android is dying alongside Nexus marketing.

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We’ve known for a while now that Google wants to further customize the Android experience it offers on Nexus devices. The company’s CEO Sundar Pichai said as much a few months ago. Now, sources familiar with Google’s plans told Android Central that the Nexus line would be replaced with something else.

Google will still launch two new phones this year, the HTC Nexus Marlin and Sailfish that we keep seeing in leaks. However, they’re not going to have any Nexus and HTC branding. Interestingly, Google and HTC partnered up to make the HTC Nexus One many years ago, and the two companies are reuniting for the debut of a brand new line of devices.

According to Android Central, Google’s upcoming phones will feature additional software and a tweaked interface atop of vanilla Android. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, considering that Google certainly has the right and the talent to offer users a better Android experience.

But vanilla Android on Nexus devices always meant that Android fans would be able to get an untarnished Android experience free of carrier bloatware. The best thing about the Nexus concept is speedy Android updates. Let’s just hope the new Google phones will inherit this particular trait, even if vanilla Android is going away. After all, Google will still have to be able to offer Android betas to certain devices, won’t it? Not to mention that the only way for Google to demo the brand new features in a major new Android release is to make its own hardware, regardless what it’s called.

Recent leaks have suggested that Nougat on existing Nexus hardware won’t be the same as Android 7.0 running on the incoming Google phones.

The site also added that it doesn’t know for a fact that the Nexus line is “completely dead,” but the new Google phones are expected to be launched in the fall window that’s usually reserved for new Nexus releases.

That said, the 2016 Google let’s-not-call-them-Nexus devices sound very exciting, and promise high-end design and flagship specs for a reasonable price. The ultra affordability of the Nexus family is going away too if a recent price leak is to be believed. But that’s not a bad thing either, considering what the customer gets, and could be seen as yet another indication that the Nexus line has reached its end of life.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.