Having released its fifth and final Developer Preview last month, Google is now putting the finishing touches to Android 7.0 Nougat, which is expected to be released very soon. A major new Android release means new Nexus devices are on the way, and HTC is believed to be Google's partner this year in developing two handsets to showcase the latest version of the OS.
But unlike in previous years, it seems that Google may be planning to differentiate the OS on its Nexus devices with unique user interface elements that may not be available on other Android 7.0 devices. As Android Police reports, these differences in the user experience are focused around the home screen.
Key highlights include:
- Removal of the icon for the app drawer, which provides access to all apps installed on a device, including those that aren't pinned to the home screen
- A redesigned app drawer, accessible by a slide-up gesture from the bottom row of apps on the home screen, or by tapping on the small arrow immediately above that row
- Removal of the familiar full-width Google Search widget from the home screen
- A new much smaller Google Search widget at the top left of the display that expands when tapped
- A new Calendar widget on the home screen, which can't be removed. This widget only appears on the 'primary' home screen panel
- A 'horizontally-scrolling line' replaces the 'dots' that indicate which home screen panel you're viewing
- Deeper integration of new Google Assistant functionality
The report states that there may be further changes and additions, going on to suggest that Google may be planning to shift focus from its 'classic' search bar in favor of much greater emphasis on its new Assistant. The launcher may also include redesigned navigation buttons, including a colorful home button design nicknamed the 'flower'.
But the report also includes an important caveat, noting that none of these details have been finalized and may well be subject to change before the new Nexus handsets launch.
And it's still not absolutely certain that the Nexus Launcher UX will be 'exclusive' to Nexus devices - it could, for example, be offered in some form as a download for other devices from the Google Play store. Nonetheless, it's an interesting glimpse at some of the ideas that Google has been working on to try to improve its Android experience.
Be sure to share your thoughts on the Nexus Launcher with us in the comments below!
Source and images: Android Police