Google's annual developers conference, Google I/O, kicks off Wednesday, offering a small glimpse into the inner workings of the world's largest company. While the broader event is very focused on the in-the-weeds, practical improvements Google is making to its software and hardware, there are likely some big announcements to come. Google chief executive Sundar Pichai is set to open the conference with his keynote at 1 p.m. Eastern. Pichai has been a fixture on the I/O stage in the past. But this will be his first time playing host as Google's CEO, since Google became part of a larger company called Alphabet in October.
All of those Pixel-exclusive announcements during Tuesday's Made by Google event probably gave you a good sense of feature envy for your current Nexus phone. We have some good news for you, however tepid it may be. Android Police says it has confirmation that Android 7.1 is coming to Nexus phones and the Pixel C before the end of the year as a dev preview. The report is bullish that the 6P and 5X will get the update, but it's a little more iffy for those with a Nexus 6 or 9. On the feature front, the Pixel launcher, rapid-fire access to the Google Assistant, and the 24/7 screen sharing and support services will surely remain Pixel exclusive. Google wants tight control over these features to optimize the experience and as an incentive for you to part with cash for one of Google's newest phones.
Google delivered Thursday on a promise to make Android 7.1 available for those willing to try out the beta software. The Android 7.1 Developer Preview offers many of the goodies found in the Pixel, though of course the Google Assistant remains exclusive to the company's new flagship phone. You can enroll a Nexus 6P, 5X, 6, 9, Player, Pixel C, and General Mobile 4G at the Android Beta site now. You'll then get an update notification right away to download the new version. Currently, the beta is only available for the 5X, 6P, and Pixel C. The other hardware will be added to the beta in the future.
Lenovo's Anuj Sharma has revealed that his company will no longer add its own skin to the Android phones that it sells. The executive spoke to Gadgets 360, saying that the company will abandon the Vibe Pure UI in future devices, starting with the K8 Note. Instead, Lenovo will use stock Android, albeit with the addition of features like Dolby Atmos and the company's TheaterMax VR platform. When Android burst onto the scene, every company wanted a way to show the world that their device was unique. But as hardware quickly became commodified, the skin each business used to make Android feel distinct became a selling point.