The Nexus line isn't being killed, says Android's engineering head

Google's Nexus line is not dead yet, according to Google's Android engineering chief. "People have been commenting about Nexus because there is something else and they think that means the end of Nexus. That is the totally wrong conclusion to make," Google's Dave Burke told ReadWrite in a recent interview.

Burke explained that when Google develops a new version of Android it develops a device with one of its partners right alongside it. 

"There are sort of two outputs...a Nexus device and...the open source code. There is no way you can build the open source code without the phone or tablet," Burke said.

The Android engineering chief's comments appear to contradict a report by The Information in late April that said an initiative dubbed "Android Silver" would see the end of Google's Nexus effort.

Reports about Silver have always made it out to be a very different beast than the Nexus program, a view that Burke appeared to confirm. Burke wouldn't talk about Silver, although he did seem to implicitly confirm its existence in his talk with ReadWrite.

From earlier reports, however, it appears Silver will be a program to offer versions of high-end Android handsets running stock or near-stock Android installations, sans the custom interface tweaks created by device makers. 

Silver device makers would be paid by Google to participate in the program, the devices would receive guaranteed updates and tech support from Google, and Google would also participate in marketing the devices. Phone manufacturers would also be restrained from putting too many non-Google apps on Silver devices and all third-party pre-installs would be removable.

If anything, Silver sounds like an improved version of Google's Play Edition program. Play Edition devices are popular Android flagship phones such as the HTC One (M8) and the Samsung Galaxy S4 that are sold through Google Play and running the plain vanilla version of Android. Manufacturer overlays such as Samsung's TouchWiz are not allowed.

While most of us have called Nexus devices "flagship" phones, the majority of Nexus devices were really more like mid-range handsets—arguably, the Nexus 5 was more like a high-end phone than its predecessors.

The Nexus program serves as a guiding light for Google's vision of Android and allows the company to sell the stock Android experience at a cheap price, primarily to developers and Android enthusiasts. "I don’t see why we would ever turn away from that, it wouldn’t make sense," Burke told ReadWrite.

It looks like Nexus and (eventually) Android Silver are both part of Google's future. 

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