A lot can happen in a year, and it's probably foolish to predict what might happen, but we'll have a go anyway! Android has been doing incredibly well the last few years, and 2013 is set to be no different. As the New Year begins, there's still time to make some predictions about what might happen in the coming months of 2013. Also, see our article on Technologies we’re looking forward to in 2013.
2012 saw the announcements of the Nexus Q and Ouya console, these followed Google's seemingly unending efforts to make the Google TV system gain traction with consumers. Given Android's versatility, we may see Google scrap Google TV and work with OEMs to create more Android powered Smart TVs and set top boxes. While the Nexus Q didn't live long, it was more of a marketing failure (including pricing) than a technical failure. Given Google's efforts to get movies available in the Play Store, having Android take over the living room makes more sense than Google TV.
Google's history with carriers has been something of a Faustian Pact as at the time of its launch, OEMs and carriers alike were looking for a platform that they could have more freedom to control – e.g. custom skins and carrier bloatware. The Nexus 4′s lack of LTE showed that Google, for whatever reason, was unable or unwilling to work with carriers on developing an LTE device. Therefore, we may see Google creating its own wireless network, either by buying an entire network in the USA or (more likely) creating its own MVNO.
It's a safe bet that at this year's Google IO, we'll see the Android 5.0 release, but what will it bring? It's likely we'll see even more performance updates, and that there will be a significant user interface update. To keep up with the social integration of Windows Phone, we should expect to see better social integration with the People app in Android.
The Nexus 4 came with Qi wireless charging – contrary to Google’s PMA wireless charging deal with Starbucks. Despite that, Qi still looks like it will become the de facto standard, especially since Nokia has adopted it in its latest Lumia devices. However, OEMs need to agree on the implementation – The Verge recently found devices made by different companies weren't fully compatible yet. We can hopefully see Android OEMs follow the example of the Nexus 4 and include wireless charging as standard.
Nokia's Lumia devices are notable for the range of bright colors they are available in. HTC has followed this trend with its Windows Phone 8X and 8S phones. The Android may also see a splash of colour if OEMs decide that the Windows Phone makers are setting a trend that is worth capturing.
This prediction is more of a gamble but we have already have data suggesting that Android tablets will outsell iPads by mid-2013 (source). The tablet market is growing, and as it does the section of the market that can afford Nexus 7s but not iPads is going to grow. Further to this, tablet sales are replacing eReader sales (source). Again, the section of people who are expecting prices lower than offered by Apple is going to grow. This has all happened before in the smartphone market – it's what we call commoditisation.
In light of the capacious batteries on the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and Motorola Razr Maxx, we might just start to see a new trend towards larger batteries besting the trend of thinner and lighter devices. One of the biggest geek complaints with smartphones in general is battery life. The fore mentioned devices show that extra battery life need not make a device too much like a brick. If you disagree, how many tweets have you seen with people complaining that a phone was too thick, versus the number complaints you've seen about battery life?
Since the first Android phone to have Xenon flash, the Motorola XT720, was released over two years ago, we have seen precious few phones out there with this superior photo flash technology. Xenon flash allows for much faster exposures, cutting down on image blur, really allowing your phone to freeze a moment of time. Of course, we do now have the Samsung Galaxy Camera, but this is not a phone. Samsung may take its experience with the Galaxy camera and import some of its technology into Galaxy S phones in an attempt to take the attention away from Nokia's imaging prowess.
I have no data for this one. However, the amount of daily Android activations, as reported by Google, has been growing to insane levels. The last reported figure was 900,000. On the grounds of economics and finite populations, I predict that this growth is not sustainable, and the growth rate will decline this year, possibly plateauing. This is on the basis that Google does not make a change to how it claims to count activations.
This prediction is all but certain to not come true. However, with the constant uphill struggle faced by Windows Phone to gain market share, and Nokia's struggle to actually turn a profit, the question of whether it should have replaced Symbian and MeeGo with Android never seems to go away. Stephen Elop was recently misquoted (well, mistranslated really) as saying “Today we are committed and satisfied with Microsoft, but anything is possible”. The actual quote from the Nokia CEO can be found here. This prediction makes it into the despite, not because of, that original news story.