White nougat with pistachiosGoogle has announced that its Nth (that is, 14th) iteration of Android will be called Nougat, continuing its confectionary naming trend.

For the first time, the company invited the public to submit suggestions for the new Android name. It clearly intended for the N successor to Marshmallow to continue the edibles trend. (The previous names were all sweet-related, and the submission site displayed names such as Nectarine, Nutmeg, and Nachos written on Post-its.)

The company earlier explained its naming convention this way, “Android is the operating system that powers over 1 billion smartphones and tablets. Since these devices make our lives so sweet, each Android version is named after a dessert.” Fair enough.

But what about nougat? For the few of you who don’t know, nougat is a sugar or honey paste, often containing nuts or fruit pieces. The confection is thought to have originated in Italy in the 15th century and developed several versions (white, brown, chewy, crunchy, chocolaty, nutty) common in Europe and the Middle East. Americans will be most familiar with it as the fluffy stuff inside 3 Musketeers, Milky Way, and Snickers.

Despite public and pundit criticism of the selection, I think Nougat is a good choice for the company.

The word comes to us ultimately from the Latin nux (“nut”) through the Old Provençal nogat to the French nougat. The word is exactly the same in German, Portuguese, and Finnish and has a similar sound in Germanic languages, Hindi, Japanese, Arabic, and Slavic languages including Russian. So without question, Nougat will be the most linguistically international Android version name.

Another plus for this choice is the “new” sound embedded in the word. Though this is really only in play for English speakers, it’s a powerful subtext. The brevity of the name is also a positive. Previous Android versions had some pretty unwieldy handles. Ice Cream Sandwich is crazy long, and Gingerbread, Honeycomb, and Marshmallow are rather big, though tasty, mouthfuls.

The downside of this name is its apparent lack of familiarity, cultural significance, and general belovedness. If the outcry after the announcement means anything, Americans don’t really know what nougat is or how to pronounce it. I’m not sure who these folks are–I clearly recall nougat listed as a feature in 3 Musketeers ads as a child, but maybe my love of that candy caused me to pay special attention.

Culturally, nougat may not resonate with younger Americans as much as earlier versions Jelly Bean or Lollipop but I would think a good deal more so than Gingerbread or Éclair. As to pronunciation, in the French, one does not say the t, but I don’t think most English speakers will know the word’s origins, so I don’t get the problem. I guess the real question is does Google want to focus on significance in the U.S. or be more international?

Many Android fans were lobbying for Nutella, which certainly has a great sound, but I have to say I’m quite partial to using generic names. Google may have chosen KitKat because there were few choices for K (Kiwi? Kumquat? Key Lime Pie?), but this plug for a low-quality chocolate bar from Hershey (the US producer) / Nestlé (the producer everywhere else) left a bad taste in my mouth.

I was not in favor of Nerds for the same reason, plus it is not a well-known candy, tastes gross, and the name is just too on the nose.

Nectarine was another fave and would have been great–with Kiwi, Lime, and Mango before it–if Google would open up the naming convention to fruit as dessert. Maybe their next product line…

Google has announced that its Nth (that is, 14th) iteration of Android will be called Nougat, continuing its confectionary naming trend. …

Despite public and pundit criticism of the selection, I think Nougat is a good choice for the company.