Well it turns out Nexus devices are getting Android 7.1 at the same time as Google's new Pixel phones — or at least a developer preview build of it. This evening Google rolled out a preview release of 7.1 Nougat for the Nexus 6P, 5X, and Pixel C tablet. If your device is installed in the Android Beta program, you can install the update right now to get new features like Night Light, long-press app shortcuts, support for new circular icons, and optimizations to touch and display responsiveness among other changes.
"We’re delivering the initial Developer Preview at beta quality for the Nexus lineup of devices," Google's Dave Burke wrote in a blog post announcing the release. "The goal is to tease out any device-specific issues." There's a list of known issues in DP1 here. A final public release is scheduled for December.
The version of Android 7.1 shipping on the Pixel and Pixel XL should be fine tuned to that hardware and, ideally, free of any obvious issues. Google promised to release the developer preview sometime in October, so the company could've waited until after the Pixel launch to roll out the first big Nougat update to Nexus hardware. But the Android team isn't wasting time. Burke says that the developer preview will expand to other devices next month.
Sadly, you'll still be without Pixel-exclusive features like the new Pixel Launcher, Pixel Camera, and 24/7 on-device customer support. But at least Google just released a pretty nice Wallpapers app that's available for all Android phones — not just the company's own flagship.