Google may have built the largest mobile operating system in the world, but it doesn’t have its own proprietary smartphone to deliver the true Google experience. That could change by the end of this year.
Google’s Nexus program began as a way for the search giant to bring Android to the market with the manufacturing chops of other industry leaders. Google has partnered with companies such as Samsung, Motorola, LG, HTC, and Huawei to bring about devices that showcase the best of Android.
An early September release?
It’s been a while since we’ve heard anything about the rumored Google-branded phone, however new reports indicate the phone may be released very soon. In fact, a report from Gadgets 360 quotes anonymous sources as saying that the phone would be released in early September. The report mentions that there will actually be two phones being released, one providing 32GB of storage and the other 128GB. Based on this, it’s certainly possible that the phones are actually the Nexus “Sailfish” and “Marlin” phones being built by HTC, so take this report with a grain of salt.
What will the Google phone look like?
As Android has grown, most manufacturers have added their own “skins,” or designs, as well as added features to their respective devices. That’s all a part of making Android open source, but it has also fragmented the OS. It takes an incredibly long time for Google’s updates to trickle down and make it past manufacturers and carriers to every device, and so the Nexus program was Google’s way of providing a phone that would get fast Android updates as soon as the company issued them.
But the Mountain View company may finally take matters further by building a phone from the ground up — the Telegraph reports that the first Google-branded phone will arrive by the end of 2016. We can’t verify their sources, so take it with a grain of salt. Google said it does not respond to rumors.
The initial idea was that the first Google phone would come from the company’s Advanced Technology and Projects team in 2017 — the Project Ara device would be a modular phone that allowed users to pop out components at will, like an upgraded camera or a secondary display. An Ara developer phone is slated to arrive at the end of this year, so there’s a strong possibility that this device could be what the Telegraph’s sources are talking about.
Google recently hired former Motorola president Rick Osterloh to be the head of its hardware division, and while the company has some hardware products under its belt — like the Pixel C, the Chromebook Pixel, the Chromecast, and more — this would mark the first time it is making its own phone.
The Information previously reported that key executives were discussing a Google-made device. The Senior vice president of Android, Hiroshi Lockheimer, has reportedly been a part of these talks. There have been other reports that hinted the company wants to start standardizing components for Android, and a Google Phone would be a good time to lead by example. Launching its own smartphone would help Google promote and visualize the advantage of standardization, and it might also inspire manufacturers like Huawei, Samsung, and LG to make design changes and add support for newer components.
Should Google make its own phone, partner manufacturers would continue making Android phones, just like PC makers kept creating their own tablets and laptops after Microsoft got into hardware. Of course, Google could face backlash from its partners, much like Microsoft did when its Surface line first launched.
Updated on 08-16-2016 by Christian de Looper: Added rumors suggesting an early September release.