As part of the April security update, Pixel and Nexus phone users are getting a surprise. Google is rolling out the 7.1.2 Nougat update as part of the bundle, and while most people won’t notice much of a chance, Pixel C users are in store for a big change.
While it was long thought that Google had abandoned its Pixel tablet, 7.1.2 brings the Pixel phone’s launcher and navigation buttons to the tablet screen. That means Pixel C users will now access their apps by swiping up from the bottom of the screen, and the search widget will now be a pill-shaped “G” logo pinned to the left side of the home screen. Furthermore, folders adopt the Pixel phone’s way of displaying icons, instead of the previous carousel-style stacking.
There’s also some new on-screen navigation buttons. Instead of the outlined triangle and square, they’re now filled in to match the ones on the Pixel. However, since Google Assistant hasn’t yet made its way to tablets, you won’t find a telltale ring around the home button.
But where 7.1.2 really departs from 7.1.1 is with the multitasking interface. Gone is the traditional stacked cards interface that occupied the center of the screen, and in its place is a 4x4 grid of your eight most recently used apps. To select one, just tap the image of the screen to bring it full-screen, or you can also drag one of the items to one to the side of the screen to activate the multi-window interface. Once an app is pinned, the remaining screens will resize to fit alongside it and you can select a second one.
As far as phones go, there are a series of minor tweaks and bug fixes, though the Nexus 5X will be getting swipe gestures for the fingerprint sensor, and there’s a new alert for apps that are using too much battery. The update has already started rolling out to Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel C, Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, and Nexus Player devices, but you find the factory images here.
C change: All of a sudden, Android tablets are relevant again. First Samsung released the Galaxy Tab S3 and Google is showing some actual attention to the Pixel C. Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come.