Nexus 7 2016 AND Android N Update Rumoured For Google I/O 2016

Rumours Paul Briden 17:28, 22 Feb 2016

Huawei is back on the Nexus project with a Nexus 7 tablet for 2016, rumours claim

While the Huawei made Nexus 6P has had a few reported technical problems, on the whole, it seems, many people are quite happy with both Google's 2015 Nexus offerings, which also includes the LG-made Nexus 5X. So despite a few foibles Google will, allegedly, bring Huawei back for another go inside 2016. That's one set of rumours anyway, but as is often the case with these things, there are multiple voices suggesting a range of other possibilities, including HTC, LG, and Motorola, amongst others.

The very earliest rumours we heard suggested that rather than working on another Nexus 6 model (or perhaps as well as?) Huawei is being drafted in to re-boot another member of Google's existing Nexus family - the Nexus 7 tablet.

The last two generations of Nexus 7 proved pretty popular with consumers, but for a while Google reined in its tablet efforts: it didn't reboot the popular Nexus 10, and we haven't heard murmurings of a new Nexus 7 or Nexus 10 for a good long while. With tablet sales declinging across the board, in a way this move away from tablets was an understandable one, but for whatever reason, it seems, Google may be considering another crack at the space.

The word comes via AndroidHeadlines, which claims the new tablet will be launched next year as a Nexus 7 (2016), and it'll be made by Huawei. Of course, it's worth pointing out that the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P were rumoured as the Nexus 5 (2015) and Nexus 6 (2015) respectively, but Google seems to have changed its naming convention. We discovered via the comments of Google engineers post-launch that the 'X' and 'P' monikers were very deliberately chosen to signify the place of each device in the Nexus range ('X' being the core of the 'Nexus' brand, and 'P' being 'Premium'), so it seems quite likely to us that Google will come up with something similar for the 2016 Nexus 7 edition.

In other Nexus-based news, word on the street suggests HTC has been commissioned by Google to build its 2016 Nexus handsets. Nothing has been announced officially just yet by either Google or HTC, so this is very much a rumour as of right now. 

News of the collaboration came via China’s Weibo network and is one of the first slices of news we’ve heard about Google’s 2016 Nexus handsets. There will be two handsets — one with a 5in display, the other a 5.5in setup — and both will run Android N. 

The original Nexus 7 set the tablet market alight and jump-started consumer interest in more affordable tablet solutions. The Nexus 7 proved that you didn’t need to spend BIG BUCKS to get a decent tablet experience and, because it launched the same year as the awesome Nexus 4, the slate did an excellent job of promoting the virtues of going pure Android with a Nexus device, giving users a choice of both tablet and smartphone.

Back in 2012 the Nexus 7 was selling like hot cakes. As per CNET’s report from the era, Asus reported that sales kicked off at around 500,000 a month, which then went up to 600, the 700K before topping out at close to a million unit sales per month during the third quarter of 2012. Similarly, Apple sold around 14 million iPads during the same quarter. Still, though, one million shipments a month is pretty damn good for a budget Android tablet.

Amazon and a whole host of other firms followed suit, but it was the Nexus 7 that predominantly stole the hearts and minds of consumers. It was deadly cheap and packed with great specs and hardware. I remember testing it in 2012 and being blown away by just how good it was — it ran Max Payne without breaking sweat and stock Android looked simply sublime running on its large 7in display. The Nexus 7 was the first Android tablet I ever fell in love with.

AH's source claims the project is "already on the way" and may be launched at 2016's Google I/O conference, which would probably be somewhere between June-August if previous years are any indicator.

Sadly there's not much more to go on at the moment, but we can make a few educated guesses. For starters it will, of course, feature a 7in display (thanks Captain Obvious), and it'll likely be either the debut device or one of several devices running a fresh new build of Android; we'd be looking at Android N by this point, and while the version numbers are less predictable it could well be Android 7.0.

“Android N will bring a polished split-screen mode for tablets and smartphones alike,” says Android Pit, “making yet another third-party addition a core part of stock Android, just like Battery Saver in Lollipop and fingerprint support in Marshmallow. The reason it has taken Google this long to bring split-screen is down to two factors: Google must optimise the function for all screen sizes, definitions and densities; Google must make the feature universal so all applications, not just a few, work in split screen.”

We will also apparently get our first look at Google’s merger of ChromeOS and Android at this year’s Google I/O event. Neither platform is being killed, however, and the two will work together seamlessly as part of one another. We have a piece about the Galaxy S6 which speculates about the possibility of what’s possible with handsets running 6GB of RAM and modern CPUS when joined up with dummy laptops. 

“Chrome is essentially being folded into Android,” says The Verge, “because Android has emerged as the dominant operating system by quite a long stretch. Combining the two operating systems means setting up Android to run on laptops and desktop computers, which would require big changes, as well as supporting the Google Play Store. Chromebooks will reportedly receive a new name to reflect the new OS.”

As for the confectionary name? Nougat? Nutella? Your guess is as good as ours.

In terms of specs and hardware the Nexus 7 2016 will likely be a largely different beast to what came before. Inside we could see a Snapdragon 810 CPU — Huawei seems to be the only OEM that can tame it —, 3GB of RAM and updated wireless radios, like support for 4G and improved Wi-Fi connectivity. 

A QHD panel could make an appearance as well, though this could be rather contentious — Google will want to keep the price low, so concessions will have to be made. BUT, seeing as this is largely a device for consuming media you’d think Google would make cuts elsewhere (RAM, imaging, CPU and radios). 

Personally, I’d be happy with a great display and middle of the road specs: all I use my tablet for is browsing the web and watching movies in bed, so I don’t need the latest and greatest hardware inside it. That way you keep the core Nexus 7 experience whilst adding a couple of new features but all the while keeping the price nice and competitive. 

We would hope, however, that Google does follow up on the also Huawei-made Nexus 6P with its premium metal build by offering something similar on the Nexus 7 (2016). Stay tuned as there's sure to be more rumours forthcoming and we'll update accordingly as and when.

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