What’s the biggest Android news of the year?

December 27, 2013

    Friday Debate aa (1)

    In this edition of the Friday Debate, we look back at a year of Android news. Android has consolidated its lead in market share, the quality of the ecosystem improved by a large margin, and a flurry of great devices gave users more options than ever. Android continued to extend beyond smartphones and tablets, with gaming consoles like Nvidia’s Shield and the Chromecast HDMI stick front and center. Voice activated search, a more intelligent virtual assistant, and a lot of polish came to our favorite operating system.

    But what was the biggest development in the world of Android this year? What were the events that changed how we use Android to the greatest extent? What devices and apps had the biggest impact on the ecosystem?

    Join us in the discussion, vote in our poll, and sound off in the comments!

    Kevin Nether

    The most exciting news for me was in the strides that Google Now has made. When the Google assistant originally came, it was a nifty feature to show off to friends. It worked good enough to use it when driving or when my hands were otherwise occupied. The only issue was it was tough to launch. I had to make a widget for it, and it still felt like a bolted-on application.

    When Google Now was rebranded in July of 2012 it really showed the direction of the product. No longer is just a voice assistance, it will now begin to provide information to you when you need it. I’m excited to be there during the infancy of Google Now, and seeing it blossom into a vital part of the OS. Google Now is becoming a selling feature to users. In 2014, I can see it becoming a bigger player in this world of Android. Rumors of a Google Now smart watch are showing in my Google+ feed daily. I know Google is pushing Google+ very hard this year as well, so I wonder how they both will come together to make one awesome package.

    Very excited for the future Android has.

    Joe Hindy

    Kevin’s answer is really good. I’m quite jealous.

    It may seem one dimensional since I spend all day with apps and games, but for me it’s been the evolution of, well, apps and games. This year saw several console-level titles get released to Android including Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Final Fantasy IV, Sonic the Hedgehog (1 and 2), Riptide GP2, and many others. They have pretty awesome graphics, longer campaigns, competent mechanics and gameplay, and while some of them are remakes of actual console games, some are totally original. EA, who wins awards every year for their sports titles, have started releasing sports games on mobile as well (albeit not as good as their console titles because their IAPs are terrible). It’ll be exciting to see them put the same effort into 2014′s titles that do on their console titles every year.

    Then you look at the app side of things and 2013 is truly the first year where we’ve transitioned out of the “oh my it actually works” into “oh my it actually works and looks good!” The app maturity in the Play Store has taken a large step forward and developers are focusing on things like design, smaller features, and more unique ideas instead of just adding a little #holoyolo and being on their way. Such apps include Duolingo and Cal Calendar as they have pushed the envelope forward so far in their respective genres that future offerings by devs now have a new standard to strive to.

    All in all, it bodes very well for app users and gamers in 2014. I anticipate we’ll be seeing a lot more console-quality games being released (that aren’t remakes) and more unique applications that challenge the standard of design and functionality that we have now and we wouldn’t be at this point if it weren’t for the amazing stuff we’ve seen come out this year.

    Adam Koueider

    It was very much a year of evolution rather than revolution for smartphones and tablets, however, one device that did catch my eye was the Chromecast. At only $35, it became the easiest purchase I’ve ever made and it turned any dumb TV with an HDMI port into a Smart TV and turned Smart TVs into Smart TVs that were actually useful.

    While it wasn’t a finished product at launch, it’s started to become a serious competitor in the space and as more and more apps start to support Chromecast it will only get better.

    Smart watches were definitely the “next big thing” in mobile technology this year, and the Pebble no doubt epitomised our lust for a “Dick Tracy” style smart watch. As a Kickstarter, it blew away all expectations, and forced other manufacturers to rethink their roadmaps. For now smart watches haven’t quite caught up to our expectations of a mature platform, but the market is hungry, now somebody just has to deliver the right product.

    Finally, the Ouya, another Kickstarter project which also blew away its target goal. While it isn’t quite the Android console we hoped for, it’s more evidence of Android gaming and its increasing popularity and performance.

    2013 was a great year for Android users. Sony returned with a vengeance with the Xperia Z and Z1, HTC proved that the iPhone wasn’t the only premium device in town with the HTC One, Samsung refined the Galaxy S3 design in the Galaxy S4 and made sure it was still the sheriff of the large screen smartphone parish, and LG pulled out all of the stocks with the Nexus 5 and LG G2. With so many great choices for a smartphones, there was a phone to suit anyones tastes. Next on the Android devices agenda, a half-decent 10-inch Android tablet.

    What do YOU think?

    Join us in the comments and vote in our poll.

    What's the biggest Android news of the year?

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    Comments

    • KillEmAllx

      I think the biggest Android news were about Motorola. They’re slowly growing as an Android company, releasing impressive devices at impressive prices. I really hope they make more high-end devices and make them available here in Europe as well.
      The whole Android community has grown a lot since last year, I mean, now I’m starting to see people with less iPhones and more Android devices, which is awesome!

      • AndroidBoss

        Ever since the S3 came out, more people started choosing Android over iOS. The most popular phone in the UK was the S3. Here in the US, although the iPhone might be the most popular, but I see more people with Android devices; especially the S4.

        • Jayfeather787

          My friend has a Nexus 5, so does my mom, I have a HTC Sensation, Motorola Droid X, and Samsung Galaxy Exhibit, and Nexus 7. I know 10 + people with a LG motion, a really good budget phone. I know 2 people with the s4, and 2 people with the Nexus 4. I know one person getting a Moto G… Android is really becoming popular in the U.S. which is a great thing.

          • AndroidBoss

            Yeah there are many reasons why it’s the best.

          • Jacques Hragar

            Make sure those phones are recycled…

            • Jayfeather787

              Never!!! Custom ROMs will keep them alive :P

        • On a Clear Day

          “An educated consumer is our best customer.” is the advertising line used by the clothing store SIMS in the U. S. I think what we are seeing is a near perfect storm of distinct yet related factors coming to both fruition and maturity.

          People originally gravitated to the iPhone because it was first on the block and it worked – didn’t change that much in size or any other way that was particularly distinguishable from outset to present – but it did and does fit well in the smaller hands of women. The fact that the iPhone is and always has been not so much a technological marvel produced by a company that is actually truly into devices as it is a marketing organization selling technogy as its way to get you roped into and hooked on its ego – I mean ecosystem – and forever servant to feeding its cash cow was hidden in amidst all the marketing hype.

          But, that was then this is now. Now the initial bloom is off the rose and people are starting to ask for options that are not dictated by others that may or may not have their best interests financially or freedom wise in mind.

          Thus, we see Android advancing both technologically in terms of hardware; in sophistication and polish re its apps and evidencing greater and greater integration of its more free, more “You want choices? WELL, we got choices!” philosophy.

          Things are only going to get better and better in the new year; it is not a mistake – nor surprising – that Android is the platform of choice for the majority of people these days.

    • AndroidBoss

      The biggest Android news of this
      year is the Nexus 5 and Android 4.4 Kitkat. So I would say it’s the More great high-end devices and More powerful specifications
      and better hardware

      • Jayfeather787

        By far Nexus 5. Proves high end specs don’t need to cost 600 dollars+.

        • Jacques Hragar

          That’s not a new thing though the nexus 4 proved it in 2012 the nexus 5 was just an evolution of that not really ground breaking.

          • Jayfeather787

            Yeah, but this article was about the biggest thing of this year. While the Nexus 4 is still a great phone, and I would buy one over the Moto G, it is a 2012 phone.

            • Jacques Hragar

              Yes but it doesnt “Prove high end specs don’t need to cost 600 dollars+.” As that’s has already been proved.

            • Jayfeather787

              ok

    • MasterMuffin

      I think I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: 1 billion Android devices sold!

      #2 could be the new rise of Motorola

      • AndroidBoss

        Yeah Motorola was pretty good this year with their Moto X and best budget Android phone Moto G. Also their Motorola Droid Maxx with the best battery life on any phone.

    • shawn_i

      Based on the devices I see in the subway the biggest Android stories of the year are the Samsung Galaxy S4, Galaxy Note 3, and Candy Crush Saga, as depressing as that it. I see Samsung devices more than anything else, and Candy Crush is the current obsession (it was Subway Surfers before that).

      For me, the biggest story of the year is Motorola. The Moto X is my favorite phone out of all the ones I’ve tried this year. It proves you can have a great flagship phone without going all out on superfluous specs and features. I love the size, the shape, the customizability, the software features, and just about everything aside from the mediocre camera. I haven’t personally tried the Moto G, but it seems pretty fantastic for the price. Sadly, I see more imported Sony Xperia phones than Moto Xs, which seems like a bad sign to me. I’m hoping that Motorola can make a better case for itself as the story of the year in 2014, though it’ll tough to compete with Samsung’s giant marketing budget.

    • Data

      I’d choose the Chromecast as the biggest Android news of the year, there was nothing really like it and I think it laid the foundations for something even bigger.

    • palkov

      The biggest Android news of the year is obviously KitKat, nobody predict Android 4.4 will use KitKat instead Key Lime Pie.

      • Zack

        Yep, nobody expecting that will happened, and one more things Google stopped supporting GNexus :/

    • KillEmAllx

      What about the growing popularity of the Chromebooks? I think that opened a door for Linux-based OS to the PC world. I see chromebooks in every tech-store I go to, which means they’re selling good. I hope 2014 to be a Ubuntu and Chrome year. The mobile world is already taken over, now let us aim for the PC world.

    • Mattias Jonsson

      The populatirty of the nexus program, the HTC one, the new Motorola, or just anything drawing attention from that galaxy phone and towards a more clean experience is a great step forwards for android!

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