How Android Silver could be better, or worse than Nexus

Image: Android Police
While Samsung dominate the consumer market, Nexus devices are the preferred choice of many Android enthusiasts around the world. Being one of the oldest brands in the Android ecosystem, the only brand to ship with Android the way Google intended it, in addition to having the best after-market software support courtesy of the people from XDA, the Nexus brand is loved by many Android fanboys, myself included. So when news broke that Google might be killing it in favour of something called Android Silver, you can only imagine the heartbreak that must've been felt by Nexus fans. While it is still only a rumour, the amount of respectable sites that have published the story seem to indicate that there may actually be some truth to the rumour. While the details may still be uncertain, it does look like Android Silver could indeed be a real thing in the future. So based on what we have read from reports, I believe the Android Silver programme could actually be better than the Nexus programme. Of course, there could be some possible downsides to it, but overall I think it would be a great step forward for the Android ecosystem. Here are a few ways Android Silver could be better, or worse than the Nexus line.

The Good

More choice
Android is all about choice. Choice of OEM, choice between screen sizes, choice between default apps, icon packs, keyboards, camera and gallery apps, everything is open to the users' own preference. Unless of course, your preference was stock Android. As it stands now, the only way to get a device running stock Android would be to get a Nexus or a GPE device, which together are few in number. You could of course root your device and use a custom ROM, but that's not a solution for the hundreds of millions of Android consumers who don't know how to. With reports saying the Android Silver programme could have up to 5 different devices at any particular time, there will be more devices to choose from for fans of Google's minimalistic approach to Android.

Better availability
With more choice comes better availability, theoretically. While Android Silver could be limited to several countries at launch, I imagine Google will make the brand much more widespread than the Nexus line of devices ever were. The reports say that Google will push for a strong retail presence with Android Silver, even taking care of the finances themselves. So while Nexus devices were largely an "online-only" affair, having Android Silver devices in retail will be great for getting it into the hands of many more consumers.
Having a stronger retail presence could be a great thing for Android Silver. Image: Engadget
More compelling hardware
Nexus devices always come with some of the best internals, but there were always some areas where Google could've done better. With the promise of premium hardware being a key selling point of Android Silver devices, fans of stock Android could have the opportunity to get devices with not only the best software experience, but also the best hardware experience as well. 

Faster and more widespread system updates
While Google have come up with two brilliant solutions to getting around slow OEM system updates - core apps in the Play Store and Google Play Services - there are still some things that can only be done via system updates. And with KitKat only at 8.5% adoption after 6 months of its release, Google still need to find a fix for under-performing OEMs. And if Google will be handling the software updates of Android Silver devices, this could help solve the problem to a certain extent. If Android Silver devices gain significant market share in a few years, Google could be handing out system updates to more and more people, making OEMs pay for their incompetence. 

Better recognition for Android
As you've seen with some of the more recent flagships of this year, Google want people to know that their Galaxy S5 or HTC One is powered by Android. I'm guessing this stems from the fact that many people think the OEM skin they use is the only version of Android, and when they see another Android device, they ask "Is this an Android phone? Why does it look different from mine?". I kid you not, I've seen someone ask what OS was on his Nexus 4 since it didn't look like his previous Android phone, which was running an OEM skin. Google must be tired of this confusion and want to set it straight. Having the "Powered by Android" message on boot up screens won't fix it entirely, but selling more phones with a consistent UI, one that everyone can recognise as "Android", could.
Image: Android Central
The bad

Ever since the Nexus 7 tablet was released in 2012, all Nexus devices were priced very low compared to their OEM cousins. This then became a huge selling point for Nexus tablets - getting flagship specs for a mid-range price tag. If Android Silver is meant to be marketed as "premium" hardware, there's the possibility that the Nexus pricing model won't be carried forward. I think they could still be relatively cheaper than your average flagship, just not as low as Nexus devices are priced.

XDA support
One of the reasons why Nexus devices are preferred by Android enthusiasts is because they have the strongest community support for custom ROMs, kernels, themes, mods and what have you. There's no indication yet if Android Silver devices will share the same level of "hackibility" as Nexus devices, but you can understand why Nexus fans would be upset if they didn't.

If Google have proven anything over the years, it's that they always do what they believe is best for Android. I recently posted a few examples of just that. Android Silver may seem like a drastic change, especially if it comes at the expense of the Nexus line, but I'm ok with that. If this whole thing becomes a reality, and the Nexus line is replaced by Android Silver, I won't think of it as the Nexus brand being killed, it's just going to be replaced. I mean let's face it, nothing lasts forever. The Galaxy S line, the iPhone, the Xperia series, everything will either come to an end or be replaced by something better. As the Nexus brand acts as the reference within the Android ecosystem, it just makes sense that it be the first to evolve into something new, and hopefully, something better. 

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