Google Pixel was one of the best smartphones released last year. However, there were a few features missing from the device that users expected the company to add to the next-gen Google Pixel 2. One was water-proofing and the other was an Always On display. Samsung’s flagship phones with OLED screens already boast of this year. Now Android code has dropped hints about Google Pixel 2 Always On Ambient display.

Google Pixel 2 Always On Display
Image Source: Concept Creator / YouTube video (screenshot)

Google Pixel 2 Always On display

The first company to introduce an Always On display was Nokia. Motorola brought it to Android in 2013, and now it has become mainstream. The AOSP has a version of Ambient display to let any vendor implement the feature in their smartphones. The Google Pixel 2 Always On display mode would let users see important updates at a glance without waiting for a notification to flash or having to touch the phone.

XDA Developers reported that they have found evidence of an Always On display on a Google Pixel running Android O Developer Preview 3. Experts at XDA Developers decompiled the SystemUIGoogle.apk file, which mentions “doze_always_on.” Don’t confuse “doze” in Android O source code with the battery-saving doze mode. XDA Developers noted that “doze” in this code refers to Ambient Display.

Google Pixel 2 is finally going to take advantage of the power-efficient nature of OLED screens to enable AOD. XDA Developers added that Google would likely introduce a toggle to enable the Google Pixel 2 Always On display with Android O. However, the company has so far kept the toggle within “tuner_prefs.xml.” It means it’s still an experimental feature that Google may choose to keep, remove or place it somewhere else.

The current Android O Developer Preview 3 build doesn’t allow developers to access this feature. If Google brings the AOD to Pixel 2, it is expected to have a burn-in prevention tool similar to the one found on Samsung’s smartphones.

Google Pixel 2 XL concept

Meanwhile, a new concept has surfaced online imagining the Google Pixel 2 XL. The video comes from YouTube channel Concept Creator. The device has a dual-tone rear panel similar to its predecessor. However, the main camera and LED flash have been moved to the top-right corner, while the fingerprint sensor sits in the center of the back panel.

In an earlier report last month, XDA Developers said it had learned from industry sources that the Google Pixel 2 and its bigger sibling would have a single camera on the back rather than a dual camera system. Its biggest rivals, the iPhone 8 and Galaxy Note 8, are rumored to feature a dual camera setup. It would be interesting to see how the Pixel 2 camera stacks up against the competition.

On the front, the concept Google Pixel 2 XL has a giant display with slim bezels on the sides, and curved glass on top. The speakers sit below the screen on the front panel, rather than the bottom grill. There is a front camera, earpiece, and other sensors on the top. Concept Creator imagines the device in three colors: Blue, Red, and Gray.

Will HTC and LG manufacture the new Pixel phones?

In the last few months, developers have found three code names in the Android Open Source Project (AOSP): Walleye, Muskie, and Taimen. Given the fact that Google always names its devices after marine creatures, the code names were said to belong to three Pixel phones. The HTC U11 system files recently revealed that HTC was working on two of them – Walleye and Muskie. Later, reports surfaced that Google was working with LG Electronics on a third Pixel phone, which was believed to be Taimen.

Last month, inside sources told Android Police that Google had killed Muskie, and was going to replace it with a bigger phone. So, HTC would be responsible for Walleye (Google Pixel 2) and LG Electronics is supposed to manufacture Taimen (Pixel 2 XL). The search engine giant was also reportedly investing $880 million in LG Display to secure the supply of OLED panels.

Google Pixel 2 features and specifications

Inside sources told XDA Developers recently that the Google Pixel 2 would feature a 4.97-inch display, 4GB RAM, and 64GB of internal storage. The Pixel 2 XL would sport a 5.99-inch OLED screen with 1440p resolution. The smaller Pixel 2 would have a 1080p resolution, added the sources. The Pixel 2 would look “almost identical” to its predecessor.

While the larger Pixel 2 XL would pack the same 4GB RAM as Pixel 2, it would offer 128GB of internal storage. The new phones would have slimmer bezels, though they will not be completely bezel-less. Both the handsets are said to be powered by Qualcomm’s octa-core, 64-bit Snapdragon 835 SoC. Pixel 2 will be the first phone to come with Android O pre-installed.

Google Pixel 2 and its bigger sibling are likely to hit the stores in October, in time for the holiday shopping season. The search engine giant has confirmed that successors to Google Pixel would arrive later this year. The company has also told fans that new Pixel phones would continue to target the premium segment.