The Nexus phones hitting the market later this year won't be the first to come preloaded with Android 7.0 Nougat, but Google's latest devices are expected to deliver several new features, including a redesigned launcher.
The new Google phones set to roll out in September or October are likely to feature a launcher that eliminates the app drawer icon in favor of a "frosted glass"-like drawer that appears with a tap or swipe of an arrow near the bottom of the screen, according to an Android Police report published yesterday. The Google Search widget is expected to be replaced with a Google icon pull-tab in the upper-left section of the phones' homescreens.
Codenamed Marlin and Sailfish, Google's new phones, which may or may not actually carry the Nexus name, are reportedly being manufactured by HTC, although Hauwei's name has also come up. However, neither phone will be the first to run the soon-to-arrive Android Nougat operating system. That distinction goes to the LG V20, announced yesterday and set for release in the third quarter.
Hints of Google Assistant?
Details about Google's new look for the launcher and search features are based on "very substantial visual evidence" and unnamed sources, according to Android Police. However, the publication noted that the final interface design could still change dramatically, as "Google is notorious for changing or axing software designs and features up until the final days and weeks before a product is scheduled to launch."
The appearance of the new search pull-tab could herald the pending arrival of Google Assistant on the company's next phones, Android Police added.
Unveiled at Google's I/O developer conference in May, Google Assistant is an intelligent software persona designed to provide voice-based answers and other types of help. Assistant is expected to appear with the release of Google Home, an Amazon Echo-like smart-home device, sometime later this year.
Industry 'Disruption' Ambitions
In addition to developing new phones in partnership with a manufacturer like HTC, Google is reportedly looking at releasing its own mobile device before the end of the year. Such a move could give Google greater control over the "fragmented" Android landscape, according to a June report in the U.K.'s Telegraph.
"The proliferation of Android device makers, many of which apply the software differently, means Google has struggled to ensure consistency, with some smartphone owners waiting months for updates," the Telegraph article noted. A Google-branded smartphone could also help strengthen the company's hold on search, apps and other features, the article added.
By releasing its own phone, Google could also prove to be a "disruptive force" and build on its already strong Nexus following, according to VentureBeat writer Evan Blass, who regularly reports on mobile tech industry leaks via his "evleaks" Twitter account. Blass also tweeted over the weekend that Google might be releasing its new version of Android as early as August 5.
Image Credit: Screenshots via Android Police.