Between the Curiosity rover landing on Mars (we hope) and the world supposedly ending, let’s face it, 2012 is going to be a big year. And who could possibly top 2011? After all, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, the Galaxy Nexus, and Google Music were all introduced in 2011. Not to mention the web based version of the Android Market. On the other hand, Apple did make a year of 2011 as well with the iPad 2, iOS 5, and the iPhone 4S (their best selling iPhone yet). So if all of this happened last year, is there any way that Android and iOS could top it in 2012? Sure! In fact, here is a few of the things we can definitely look forward to in 2012:
Doesn’t it feel like just yesterday that Dual-Core phones hit the market? Well Nvidia has announced that there will definitely be quad-core Tegra 3 phones on the market by the end of March. At the same time, Qualcomm says that their quad core chips will be out by the end of the year.
Now that CES has come and gone, and not a single quad-core phone was released, what will be the first quad-core phone to be released? As of right now, it looks like the HTC Edge will win the quad race. But no matter who comes out first, we are certain that quad-core technology will be making its way into smartphones very soon.
On the other hand, we are going back and forth on whether or not the next iPhone will have a quad-core or not. However, BGR reports “uncovered references to the new quad-core chip within the latest beta release of Apple’s iOS software. Among the code for Apple’s updated processing-core management software, a reference to “/cores/core.3″ has been identified. Apple’s dual-core A5 chipset is referred to as “/cores/core.1″ within the iOS code, and single-core chips are “/cores/core.0″ according to the naming conventions within Apple’s processing-core management software.”
Although this technically started to happen last year, quad-core tablets are very scarce right now. In fact, the Transformer Prime is the only Tegra 3 tablet available for purchase right now. But within a few months, 3 other Tegra 3 tablets will surely make their way to the market. The HTC Quattro, Lenovo LePad K2, and Acer Iconia A700 are all due for release in the first half of 2012, and will all be packing quad-core technology. But if power is what you’re looking for, why don’t you stick around for Qualcomm’s 2.5GHz Quad-Core Krait Chip?
If you haven’t already caught on, Android versions are named after desserts and are assigned alphabetically. Therefore, after Ice Cream Sanwich, something with a “J” should be on the way (I’m a poet and I didn’t even know it). You can check out the full background behind Google’s naming of Android versions here.
More importantly, now that Ice Cream Sandwich is out, Google is surely well on its way to producing the next version of Android. Crazy right? Most of us are still waiting to get our hands on Ice Cream Sandwich, or even Gingerbread! But despite the huge improvements that we have seen in Ice Cream Sandwich, reports suggest that some “game changing stuff” has been moved to the next version of Android (“J”). Speculation never ends well. So we are not going to say that “J” is coming in 2012. We can hope and dream though.
Android @ Home
Back at Google’s I/O 2011, we heard about a new initiative called Android Open Accessory. This open kit allows external “USB hardware (an Android USB accessory) to interact with an Android-powered device in a special “accessory” mode” through Android 3.1 and 2.3.4. Now that developers are starting to play with this new kit that Google has provided, we can expect to see a horde of new accessories and appliances for Android Devices.
Note: If you’re still rocking a pre 2.3.4 or 3.1 device, you might be out of luck. In Google’s terms, “Many previously released Android-powered devices are only capable of acting as a USB device and cannot initiate connections with external USB devices”. Simply, some older devices cannot connect to these accessories and appliances.
On the other hand, we have already seen NetChef come out of CES 2012. It has an 8-inch touchscreen that gives a variety of easy to follow recipes along with attractive pictures ($270). As you can see, “Android @ Home” is not restricted to Open Accessory. In the coming year, we could be seeing more stand alone Android powered appliances and devices separate from tablets and phones.
Apple @ School?
Just over a week into the new year, Apple has already started to send out invites for its upcoming event. On January 19th, at the Guggenheim Museum, Apple has announced through its invites that they have something educational up their sleeve. In the past, Apple has donated 9,000 refurbished iPads to the Teach for America Program, and even offers educational discounts in their online store.
Speculators have led us to believe that “iTextbooks” is going to be the focus of the event. More specifically, Clayton Morris says that the event “will focus on iTunes University and Apple in education” and “has been in the making for years” (and that Steve Jobs was “intimately involved with this project before his passing)” (PaidContent).
More With Google TV
Remember when Eric Schmidt said that by next summer “the majority of the televisions you see in stores” will have Google TV installed? I sure do. But now that Logitech has stepped down from producing products powered by Google TV, it looks like game-over for big G right? Wrong. Sony, LG, Vizio, and Samsung have all stepped in as partners for Google TV. So instead of getting burnt from Logitech stepping out, Google TV looks to be just getting started. Keep reading for a full list of devices by the 4 manufacturers listed above thanks to Gigaom:
- Sony, which was burnt badly in its first go-around with Google TV, has decided to take the operating system off its connected TVs for the foreseeable future. Instead, it’s shipping Google TV in one connected Blu-ray player and a streaming media box that will compete against Roku, Apple TV, Boxee Box and others.
- LG announced two connected TV models with Google TV installed, sized at 47″ and 55″. Both will be backlit and have 1080p resolution, as well as 3-D capabilities. While pricing of the sets weren’t announced, the specs that were shared suggest these 3DTVs are likely to be priced at a premium to other LG products, which is never a good sign in a tough economic environment. What’s more telling is that LG’s Google TVs were announced as an afterthought to those with its own Smart TV platform, which the company says boasts almost 1,200 apps in its own store.
- Like Sony, Vizio announced a streaming player and Blu-ray player with Google TV installed. It also detailed the coming availability of 47″, 55″ and 65″ 3DTVs that will use the latest Google TV operating system. But don’t expect it to talk up Google TV in its marketing materials: While based on the Android operating system, Vizio is re-skinning the system and branding the app framework VIA Plus (for Vizio Internet Apps).
- And Samsung, which has long been expected to introduce Google TV on at least some of its devices, didn’t mention the partnership at all in its press conference. Instead, it talked up the improved feature set of its own app platform, which now has Kinect-like voice and gesture control, as well as facial recognition.
Ice Cream Sandwich Invasion
Now that the newest version of Android has hit the market, everybody is looking to get their hands on it. And now that the Galaxy Nexus has had its chance to be the only phone with Ice Cream Sandwich, Android manufacturers will be rolling out ICS updates very soon. Not long from now, you can expect to see Ice Cream Sandwich as the #1 Android version. As of right now, Ice Cream Sandwich only makes up about 0.6% of all Android devices.
In the meantime, why don’t you go check out a full Android 4.0 upgrade list thanks to Computer World’s Android Power Section.
There isn’t much else to say. 2012 should be an exciting year in terms of smartphones. If one of the Android Manufacturers produces a quad-core phone before the first quad-core iPhone, is that game-over for iOS? Probably not. But now that Ice Cream Sandwich is putting Android one step higher and RIM, Windows, and HP are all falling out of the game, the smart phone OS market competition is surely heating up fast.