Back in 2016, Google embarked on a more prominent and marketable smartphone line in the form of the Pixel series. The direct successor to the Nexus series came with its own unique build of Android Nougat, something we have come to know as the “Pixel Experience” — not to be confused with the third-party ROM.
The idea of “stock Android” essentially ended with the release of the Google Pixel and Pixel XL. Both devices shipped with an exclusive version of Android Nougat 7.1 with some tweaks that would only be available on Nexus devices in the intervening months, with some outright Pixel-only features to this day.
Protecting your most prominent hardware asset is important, and so having features that are not available elsewhere is one such way to ensure that. For those wondering or ready to fire off complaints and angry comments, “stock Android” has morphed into what we now effectively know as Android One.