Google Nexus is a program started by Google in 2010 as reference devices for developers. The line devices eventually became more mainstream especially with the Samsung Nexus S and Samsung Galaxy Nexus. The devices propelled what the Android Flagships looked like and how they performed based on reference hardware prepared by Google. The devices eventually became more and more cutting edge with devices like the LG Nexus 4 and LG Nexus 5 which launched with specifications which were top of the line at the time of launch. The devices also became more and more mainstream with increasing numbers of consumers purchasing the devices.
Earlier this year, rumours began floating around of the demise of the Google Nexus line of devices in light of the launch of a rumoured line of devices called “Android Silver”. Rumours about Android Silver made it sound like the Google Nexus program where Google provided a reference build of an Android device and manufacturers used this as a base for their flagships. Also rumoured was the integration of the Google Nexus and Google Play Edition line of devices under this new Android Silver umbrella. The Google Play Edition Devices are essentially Manufacturer Flagships such as the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4 running stock Android. These devices would then be made available not on in the Google Play Store but also via Telecoms Carriers such as Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T in the United States, and possibly companies such as Maxis, DiGi and Celcom locally.
This rumour got the tech and developer community up in arms as the Android Silver program would come with a much heftier price tag compared to the Google Nexus devices, which would mean that modders and developers would have to pay a lot more to continue developing and getting access to their mods on a stable, open device.
However, it turns out that is not the case. Dave Burke, the Director of Engineering at Google, hints in a recent interview with ReadWrite. He states, “We are still invested in Nexus” essentially debunking earlier rumours of the programs demise. He goes on to say, “People have been commenting about Nexus because there is something else and they think that means the end of Nexus. That is the totally wrong conclusion to make“.
When we are working, there are sort of two outputs. We’re building a Nexus device and we’re building the open source code. There is no way you can build the open source code without the phone or tablet or whatever you are building. You have to live and breathe the code you are developing.
You can’t build a platform in the abstract, you have to build a device (or devices). So, I don’t think can can or will ever go away. And then, I think Nexus is also interesting in that it is a way of us explaining how we think Android should run. It is a statement, almost a statement of purity in some respects. I don’t see why we would ever turn away from that, it wouldn’t make sense.
Burke, while unable to comment on the Android Silver program, commented on how Android development necessitated the Google Nexus program. In fact, the development of Android at Google spurs the Nexus program; the teams work in unison – when the Android team is developing the operating system, the team working on the Nexus program is building a device which will be able to take full advantage of the new developments in the system. As such, Burke comments that a move away from the Nexus Program “wouldn’t make sense”.