For the past several years, Google has been gifting the world with the ability to run early preview builds of its new Android OS versions. It began with Lollipop in 2014, then continued with Marshmallow in 2015. This year, the Developer Preview of Android “N” came even earlier than expected. For all those who take the plunge and seek to explore the latest tasty treat Mountain View has to (eventually) serve to the general public, the sole prerequisite is a modern Nexus device.
While companies like Samsung and Sony have actually started beta testing builds of their own skinned preview versions for select markets, it looks like Google itself may plan to formally allow the Android N Developer Preview to work on OEM partner devices. Reddit user FUNExtreme discovered something quite surprising in the HTML code used on Google’s Android N Preview page. Hidden in the “What’s New” section was the following:
“More supported devices, including devices from OEM partners” and “Seamless OTAs for your devices, from initial release to final N release without flashing” are definite eye-catchers.
In theory, it looks like Google may indeed intend to initiate other devices into its Android N Developer Preview program, and do so without the need to flash. This would be greatly welcomed by anyone envious of a Nexus device but who prefers anything but a Nexus device.
Bytes (of reality)
Before anyone gets too excited and starts to dream the impossible, it’s important to note a big hurdle for such an endeavor:
Devices like the Galaxy S7 and G5 run heavily skinned Android versions that touch basically every single visual – and at times even functional – aspect of the device. Even something as seemingly trivial as the Always On Display is something that Android itself does not intrinsically support, let alone the current Android N preview. It is seemingly unthinkable to imagine these devices being compatible with the build for the simple fact that it would essentially prevent them from working as advertised by the manufacturer.
Make no mistake, there is a very specific reason why these devices don’t have a “Stock” setting option, especially given that there are some very vocal users who spare no chance to chastise TouchWiz and other builds perceived as bloated.
On the contrary, what is more likely to happen – assuming anything does period – is that Google itself may allow “de-skinned” Android builds to run the OS. For example, something like the Moto X Play. Many of the unique features of the Play are actually Apps, and thus can be de-coupled from the OS framework itself. As far as looks and feel goes however, Motorola’s offerings are visually as “Stock” as a non-Nexus device can be expected to get.
Wait and see
Ultimately only time will tell what Google ultimately decides to do. It should go without saying that the entire story should be taken with a majorly heaping helping of salt. While the curious code could have been deliberately placed or placed by accident, it could also simply be the work of a staff member trying to get a laugh. Heck, it could even be an April Fools Joke that hadn’t been caught until now.
With all that said, what do you think about the idea? Would you install and run Android N on your device given the opportunity?