In a tradition dating back to the Nexus days, Google has always used fish-themed codenames when communicating internally about their phones. Their laptops and tablets are usually named after video game characters. These names often give us the first evidence of an upcoming device when they're used in software commits in Android's open source code.
Codenames become very important when you're dealing with custom ROMs and root mods. The numerals in friendly names like "Pixel 2" could cause problems if they were used in software code or file names. Something simple with no spaces, no numbers, and no special characters works best, so that's the name you'll need to know in order to download the right files for your device.
You could even cite a trickle-down effect here, as the codenames used in the modding community for a device typically get adopted by frequenters of the gadget's various forums, such as XDA, Reddit, and Google Groups. So knowing your Pixel's code name is effectively a gateway to better support.
- Chromebook Pixel: Link
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