Google has been focusing on its brand new Pixel phones, seemingly designing software and features around those devices, to the detriment of its older models. After the Pixel launcher and the semi-exclusivity of the Google Assistant, the company has now taken one extra step in consolidating its Pixel features: Night Mode. The basic feature was removed from non-Pixel devices with the Android 7.1 Nougat Developer Preview.
Google is seemingly no longer content in just offering affordable, high-quality Nexus devices. With the new Pixel brand, it has jumped into the phone market as a full-fledged competitor. As such, it’s trying to aggregate differentiating features into its new Pixel devices, but the way it is doing it is alienating some of the company’s core audience.
Case in point the unexpected, and so far unexplained, removal of the Night Mode feature on Nexus devices. This piece of basic functionality allowed devices to tone down the amount of blue light they were putting out at night. It improves reading and reduces eye-strain at night and in low-light situations, so many users find it useful. The Pixel devices have a brand new, more powerful implementation of the technology, called Night Light mode, that relies on screen drivers to work.
It makes sense for the new technology to not make its way to older devices, because nobody expects engineers to write drivers for old, barely supported devices. However, with the launch of Android 7.1 Nougat Developer Preview, even the basic Night Mode feature is now completely gone from Nexus devices.
It’s unclear if this is just a mistake on Google’s part that will be fixed in an upcoming preview of the OS, or whether the company is actually taking functionality out of its operating system and reserving it for its new Pixel phones.