Galaxy Note 7 users are buying the Galaxy S7; now it’s time for Android Nougat

Opinion
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Last updated: November 13th, 2016 at 04:24 UTC+01:00

The number “7” has been said to be a number of completion, a number of perfection, a “lucky” number (hence Samsung’s Project Lucky that brought us the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge this past March 11th), but unfortunately, the Korean giant ran into a disaster with the Galaxy Note 7. For users who felt a strong connection to what will go down in history as the best (short-lasting) smartphone of 2016, they are now victims of a second Note 7 recall. Some have parted ways with their devices while others continue to hold out – even in the face of a new charge-limiting update and New Zealand’s decision to disable the phone’s operation from all its carrier networks.

Those who have sent their Galaxy Note 7 back to their carrier or shipped their recall unit back to Samsung have had to select a substitute phone. Many Samsung users have opted for “the next best thing,” the Galaxy S7 series, but the S7 edge does not yet have the Grace UX or the slight cosmetic changes Samsung made to its Note 7 software, among other things. Since these former Note 7 users are having to “make do” without the S Pen and its additional functionality, Android Nougat is the only software comfort possible.

Samsung just launched its Galaxy Beta Program on November 9th for Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge users, with some lucky users getting a “taste” of Android Nougat ahead of the rest of the Galaxy S7-toting crowd, and these users will get to enjoy Nougat for the next few weeks while providing critical feedback to Samsung about the user experience – including any software bugs they encounter along the way. This process is important for the performance of Android Nougat when it finally lands in the hands of diehard Samsung users, but some believe Samsung should not make former Galaxy Note 7 users wait too long.

The Galaxy Beta Program, for those who may be wondering, is no longer accepting registration requests in my home country, for example, due to the fact that Samsung has already met its small quota. Samsung could, however, open up the Galaxy Beta Program again in open-registration countries and accept more users. After all, in light of the Galaxy Note 7 recall, this may be a way to appease some Note 7 users who find themselves carrying around an S7 edge because it’s the second best smartphone from Samsung and the second best smartphone on the market.

There is one other alternative, though: if Samsung maintains a small number of beta users, it can always choose to roll out Android Nougat earlier than expected. Samsung’s normal course of update rollouts has occurred historically after the launch of its next-generation “Galaxies” – sometimes, the day before the new phones go on sale.

This year, however, in an effort to make amends for Note 7 users who have been forced to give up their device(s), Samsung could always give them an update surprise a few weeks earlier than expected. Some don’t want to wait on Android Nougat any later than December, but I see January as the earliest possible update release rollout for Nougat. Android Nougat, in this scenario, would arrive a few weeks shy of Mobile World Congress 2017 (MWC), early February at the latest, and would appease S7 and S7 edge owners who may decide to stick with their current Samsung device for one more year.

Now, there are a few perspectives on this. Some think that Samsung waits to release the new Android update after its new phone announcement each year in order to encourage users to buy the latest smartphones from the company. Others believe that waiting for Android Nougat to land in February would give Galaxy S8 buyers something to look forward to. If someone is trading in or selling their S7 edge, why care about the S7’s Nougat update? I am a participant in Verizon’s Annual Upgrade Program and am due for my new Galaxy S8 as soon as the phone is announced and launched at Big Red, so I remain neutral in the discussion.

Other users don’t seem to care either way. Due to the Galaxy Upgrade Program Samsung has launched in South Korea as well as Singapore and the UK, users can get the latest Galaxy every 12 months with the latest OS update and UI pre-installed without worrying about the update release schedule. Some want Samsung to take its time making sure the Nougat experience is as smooth as possible and are willing to wait patiently for the update without complaint.

Others want Samsung to roll it out as quickly as possible – preferably, before their Christmas presents start arriving under the tree. Some think Google waited too late to release the Pixels and could’ve helped Samsung release Nougat earlier if the search engine giant had made an August announcement instead of a September one.

Samsung’s practice of waiting until a new phone announcement to release the latest for its former-generation smartphones is one that the company believes is wise for business, but there are some Samsung users who would love for the company to release updates earlier than in the past. Of course, Samsung has done a great job releasing security patches in record time, and this gives us hope regarding future update releases.

For those who are waiting for Android Nougat, let me say that the Pixel and Pixel XL are great venues into what the next “sweet treat” holds. Since Samsung isn’t touching up Nougat too much these days, you’re looking at new features for Android such as MultiWindow Mode (Samsung users have had this feature since 2012), Bundled Notifications that group together notifications from the same app, Notification Direct Reply that lets you respond to text and chat messages from the notification shade, and a “Deeper Doze Mode” called “Doze On The Go,” not to mention Daydream VR compatibility and more.

These are new features that enhance your Android experience, but are they enough, along with Samsung’s UI touchups, to rush the development of Nougat for the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge? You be the judge.

Did you miss out on the Galaxy Beta Program? Wish you could’ve been part of it? Anxious for Android Nougat, or content with TouchWiz as is?

Opinion Galaxy Note 7Galaxy S7Galaxy S7 edgeNougat
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