The latest update for the Pixel and supported Nexus family is Android 7.1.2, originally announced on January 31, which actually brings a bit more than you might expect for an incremental update. The Pixels miss out on the most exciting stuff, mostly because they have it already, gaining just the “powered by Android” logo on the boot splash screen and the March 5 security patch. Google also improved the finger swipe gesture for the Pixels and Bluetooth connectivity issues.
The Nexus 6P, which I’m using with Android 7.1.2 now, gained fingerprint scanner gestures at last, meaning you can now drag down the notifications shade with the rear-mounted finger scanner. It can be found in the Moves section of the Settings menu and is not enabled by default. Neither the Nexus 6 nor Nexus 9 will be updated to 7.1.2. But the most significant Android 7.1.2 feature change came for the Pixel C, which inherited the Pixel Launcher from the smartphone line and got a whole new multitasking view added as well. The new recents apps overview shows small tiles arranged in a grid pattern as opposed to the more familiar card stack.
You’ll only be able to see eight apps at a time and for now you can’t even swipe them away, but it’s a solid start. The Pixel C also gets the new solid nav buttons found on the Pixel phones and you can simply swipe up on the home screen to open the app drawer.
In a slightly weird twist, Android 7.1.2 also allowed some users – but not all – to choose where to install live wallpapers. Non-Pixel devices can install the Wallpapers app to replicate the functionality of the Pixel wallpaper picker, which brings with it a slew of nice new wallpapers and the ability to choose whether a wallpaper should be applied to the home screen, lock screen or both. Check out the video below for a quick rundown of the new Android 7.1 Nougat features. As above, a distinction needs to be made between the Android 7.1 version found on the Google Pixel phones and the Android 7.1 update that went to Nexus devices. The Nexuses didn’t inherit the Pixel Launcher, although Google Assistant arrived separately at a later date (on February 26 to be precise).
The most significant stuff includes launcher shortcuts, which allow you to long press an icon and access a quick couple of actions, like to shoot a video or take a selfie on the camera app without having to launch the whole app first. Instead of five there’s now six quick toggles in the notifications shade, and if you hold the power button there’s finally a restart option in the power off menu.
There’s a new tabbed view in the Settings menu that replicates that found on the Pixels, with a new Support tab for getting assistance around the clock. Some changes were made to the Settings as well, including the addition of a smart storage manager with both automatic and manual cleanup options and the addition of a Moves section where various gestures and motion detection toggles live. GIF support also arrived in an early stage on the Google Keyboard.