Non-Pixel Nexus lose Night Mode, no fingerprint gestures

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.

On the one hand, Google isn't to blame for excluding these features. Or at least the fingerprint gestures. 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.

More controversial, however, is Night Light mode, formerly known as Night Mode. Like Night Shift on iOS and f.lux and other software like it, the feature turns down the amount of blue light emitted by screens as the sun goes down, known to be harmful to eyes and body. Night Mode was introduced in Android 7.0 Nougat while Night Light is coming with Android 7.1 exclusively to the Pixel.

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 is 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.

Some have hinted that 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. 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