Night Light remains a Pixel exclusive feature, but you can still get it on your Nexus.. sort of

It seems that Google is piling up the features that will make the Pixel smartphones special, further distancing itself from its Nexus predecessors. In some cases, however, the changes might turn out to actually be detrimental to Google’s older, existing devices.

In responding to comments on Google+, Googler Ian Lake confirmed that devices other than the Google Pixel won’t be able to support fingerprint sensor gestures or the new Night Light mode. Unfortunately, it seems that Android 7.1 has also removed the previously existing Night Mode for those devices as well. That’s not to say OEMs can’t work on their own Night Modes and fingerprint gestures, in fact, both of these features do arrive on Pixel after a few Chinese OEMs have already done it. 

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Not bringing fingerprint gestures to the Nexus however can’t exactly be blamed on Google, that requires a completely different hardware that isn’t found in the older Nexus devices. Whether that reasoning will hold true for devices that do have such a sensor remains to be seen. The Night mode was present on the Android N developer previews but was later pulled from the official release. It was thought the feature wasn’t ready and may arrive with Android 7.1 as Night Light but that’s clearly not the case.

Lake explains that the reason for this is that Night Light does its color tinting through hardware, which requires display drivers that are not available on the Nexus. In contrast, Night Mode was a purely software solution. That still leaves the door open for Nexus devices getting a driver update that would enable Night Light, though Lake hasn’t confirmed that possibility.

What is getting Nexus owners aggravated is the fact that Android 7.1 apparently removed Night Mode as well, which suddenly leaves Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P owners with no built-in anti-blue light solution. Many are arguing that while limiting Night Light to the Pixel is understandable, removing Night Mode isn’t justified.

However, as you may know already, at least Night Mode still works on the Nexus devices for now. All you need is an app called Night Mode Enabler to activate it.

The Android 7.1 update however does bring a new Moves (aka gestures) section to Nexus devices’ settings menus just not for the fingerprint sensor.

While it’s not exactly a shock that Google’s older phones won’t be able to handle all of the features included in Android 7.1, it must still be disappointing for all those Nexus owners who were perhaps hoping that would not be the case. It is a subtle tactic by Google to make the Pixel more attractive, by removing or withholding features that would otherwise be found in Nexus devices as well but this is sure not going to go well with fans. That said, it is also possible, and we certainly hope so, that Google returns Night Mode, inefficient as it may be, to Nexus devices in a future update.

Source: +Ian Lake

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