Earlier today, Google officially unveiled the final version of Android 7.0, which we've now come to know as Android Nougat. As many networks around the world teased across the past few weeks, Android 7.0 has indeed launched today, much earlier than both Android 6.0 Marshmallow and Android 5.0 Lollipop did before it. While it's a release that's packed full of new features and a whole lot of polish, Google is introducing yet another change to the way that updates are handled. Starting with Android 7.0 Nougat, Google will issue "Regular Maintenance Releases" for current versions of Android, similar to the way that Windows PCs used to get "Service Packs".
As part of the initial announcement post on the Android Developers website, Google says that they're "moving Nougat into a new regular maintenance schedule over the coming quarters" and that they've "already started work on the first Nougat maintenance release". This appears to be yet another way for Google to make updating Android easier for both the carriers as well as the manufacturers like Huawei and Samsung, for instance. What's more, they'll be releasing Developer Previews for these Maintenance Releases, just as they did for the last three full updates to Android. This in turn should make it easier for developers themselves to keep up-to-date with an operating system that is constantly changing over time.
The first of these update packs is said to hit this Fall, and Google promises that it will be full of "continued refinements and polish". The Fall technically begins in September, and as the new Nexus devices are rumored for an October launch, this could be a hint that the Nexus devices will in fact launch with an even newer version of Android than the one Google has launched today. This is a new approach for Google, and it's likely that it's been done in order to coincide with their monthly security releases, and help take carriers out of the Android update equation a little more. After all, it's easier for a carrier to test a smaller package that keeps Android updated than it is to test and roll out a whole new operating system.