Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) has put to bed rumors that it will be getting rid of its Nexus line of devices with the impending introduction of its Android Silver program. Though the Mountain View, California, company hasn't yet launched any Nexus devices in 2014, consumers can expect new Nexus hardware to accompany the fall launch of the recently previewed Android L software.
News about the elusive Android Silver first surfaced in April and the public immediately determined that the program was intended to replace the Nexus line, but Dave Burke, the head of Android engineering recently told Dan Rowinski of ReadWrite that Google is “still invested in Nexus.”
"People have been commenting about Nexus because there is something else and they think that means the end of Nexus. That is the totally wrong conclusion to make," Burke said.
He went on to explain that Nexus hardware is essential to the development of Android software, noting that Google couldn't develop its platform without a physical representation to see how it works.
When we are working, there are sort of two outputs. We’re building a Nexus device and we’re building the open source code. There is no way you can build the open source code without the phone or tablet or whatever you are building. You have to live and breathe the code you are developing.
You can’t build a platform in the abstract; you have to build a device (or devices). So, I don’t think can can or will ever go away. And then, I think Nexus is also interesting in that it is a way of us explaining how we think Android should run. It is a statement, almost a statement of purity in some respects. I don’t see why we would ever turn away from that, it wouldn’t make sense.
"People just get excited by concepts and forget why we do things,” he said.
Though not much is known about Android Silver and Burke wouldn't elaborate on the project, it's becoming more evident that Nexus and Silver are two different concepts.
Many tech informants and analysts have given their predictions as to what Android Silver might be and what the program might mean for Google. The Information, in particular, speculated that Google may release Android Silver to compete with the congruent iOS ecosystem that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has developed.
Similar to how most iPhones and iPads are readily compatible with each new iOS version, Google may orchestrate Android Silver so that all of the most current Android devices will be able to update at the same time.
Android Silver devices may be similar to Google Play Edition devices, which are flagships from other manufacturers such as Samsung Electronics Co. (KRX:005930) and HTC Corp. (TPE:2498) that run stock Android, or the operating system without any third-party modifications. However, manufacturers will reportedly have to follow strict hardware specifics dictated by Google.
Android Silver could be the high-end version of the low-cost Android One program, which Google recently announced at its I/O conference on Wednesday as an initiative to provide high-quality, affordable smartphones to developing markets around the world. Similarly, Google detailed that it worked with phone manufacturers to build handsets with features pertinent to developing markets, which will receive all of their software support from Google as opposed to from mobile carriers.
Android Silver isn't expected to launch until some time in 2015, but with confirmation that the Nexus line will continue, there should soon be lots of news about upcoming devices. Currently, rumors indicate that HTC is developing a Nexus 9 tablet codenamed HTC Volantis, which is expected to launch during the fourth quarter of 2014.