Last updated: February 20th, 2014
The overall picture for the Android platform looks very good, heading into the middle of 2013. Towards the last quarter of 2012, market research firms were reporting that Android had finally pummeled its main rival iOS into a corner. Samsung’s flagship phone – the Galaxy S III sold even beyond the company’s highest expectations. Samsung also took Nokia’s crown as the queen of global mobile phone retail. In the first quarter of 2013, it was announced that Android accounted for 64% of smart phone sales. Samsung is also doing very well in the tablet market: the Galaxy Note and tablet series have posted some serious competition to the iPad, which only ups the number of devices using the Android operating system in the world.
In mid April, Larry Page announced that the mysterious Google Glass project would run on the Android iOS. Some news sites are dubbing this version of Android ‘Glass OS’. How similar it is the versions of Android currently running on smartphones and tablets remains to be seen. Many writers and techies were betting on Google developing a separate proprietary system for the Glass project. You can follow the goings on at @glass project.
Android has decided to give developers a helping hand by releasing Android studio. The program will allow developers to see the progress of their work in the same workspace by updating in real-time. Interestingly, Android studio is also a tool that lets you market your app by giving you access to the analytics of your Google play store and app downloads. This is just another step towards making Android as genuinely creative and useful to marketers as possible.
Sundar Pichai takes over as head of Android at Google
Industry heads are assuming that Pichai will be bringing greater unification of Apps and Chrome, since he will be heading both departments. All talk points to a better-organised ‘Android eco-system’: Some say the sometimes disjointed relationship between all of the projects in the Android family is the only thing holding the platform back from total domination. With Pichai now at the helm, we’re eager to see what will happen next with projects such as Android TV.
Android is not without its hiccups – piracy being one of its major problems. Games developers have been cornered into releasing their games for free in the Google play store, due to the staggeringly high piracy rate. They may as well have given them away for free in the process. Being open source does have its hang ups. It’s also a strong strike against Android that the hottest apps are often developed and released on iOS years ahead of their Android release date (take Instagram: It took 3 years for the photo sharing app to come to Android). The most relevant example in 2013 is Vine: it has 13 million users on iOS but its Android iteration has only been released in early May. However, it is unlikely that Android will give away the huge lead they currently have in the market and its new projects will likely push the platform into era-defining territory.
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John Kindelton is a freelance writer in London passionate by new technologies.