Not just content with a release of a record number of popular smartphones across the board in 2013, the last year brought quite a few things with it. New announcements, new technology, as well as a new direction for the mobile sector were some of the highlights. But of course, as with everything, not everything was rosy and gold in the land of Android. Check out our overview of 2013 below.
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The Year of Departures
Three key members said goodbye to their Android family in 2013. It started with Android co-founder Andy Rubin, who in 2013 resigned his post as the head of the mobile operating system. When he started, Android was trying to push its way into the mobile OS market and by the time he left, it was the undisputed OS of choice in the world market. Not a small feat.
Then Jean-Baptiste Quéru, the head of the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), threw his towel in after a long frustration over the relationship between Google and their hardware partners, such as Qualcomm. He feared that Android was losing its way with its open-source philosophy and decided to move onto different ventures.
Finally, the Vice President of Product Manager for Android, Hugo Barra, left Google for the Chinese company Xiaomi. He was probably one of the best known in terms of faces of Android, as Hugo was often the person in front of the presentations for new devices.
The Year of Phablets
Not too long ago, 3.5 to 4 inches was the typical size for the largest smartphones on the market. Last year, it treaded into 4.5 to 4.7 being the standard size and now it’s not unusual to see a 5-inch display as being the absolute standard. But that was not all, almost every well known manufacturer has now embraced the phablet format by putting out models with even larger screens: the Galaxy Note 3, the Galaxy Mega series, the HTC One Max, Huawei Ascend Mate, or the Asus FonePad Note 6.
The rise of wearables
Whether they are called “ultra-mobile” or “wearable computing” , it’s definitely a future-orientated trend that is making it’s way into the mainstream. This year, Google launched the Explorer program in regards to its Google Glass with other companies jumping into the ring on similar products. In addition, the phenomenon of the smartwatch has burst into the market as well. Companies have jumped all over this, from Samsung, Sony, Qualcomm and even a few smaller outfits, such as Pebble. But that’s just the beginning. Already there are already the next iteration of devices expected next year, notably from Apple. Whether wearable computing and smartwatches will be the next big thing, that’s still to be determined.
Birth of curved displays
Although the Galaxy Round and the LG GFlex are currently dismissed by users as being ridiculous or unneeded, the technology is now here for flexible displays. What will become of this and the mass market is still yet to be foreseen, but once the technology is applied in a way that will make sense, you can be sure that companies will start using it all over the place.
Okay, okay. Fingerprint scanners aren’t new for 2013. In fact, Motorola was doing this way back in 2011. However, the market never accepted the technology until recently. With the advent of the iPhone 5S by Apple and the introduction of a mass marketed smartphone with a fingerprint scanner, it was hard to shy away from it. While the technology may still be controversial and the apparent illusion of security was dismissed, the technology is starting to gain traction. HTC is expected to release a device with a similar scanner and Samsung is expected to bring at least one device sporting the technology in the new year.
The dawn of the 64-bit era
Again, it was Apple that brought this little gem on us with Samsung coming in a close second. The iPhone 5S was not only the first smartphone to bring a fingerprint scanner as mentioned above, but also the first smartphone to bring with it a 64-bit processor inside. While it has both advantages and disadvantages marked with this new processor, many companies are jumping on board of the new computing “standard” for mobile devices. Will it become the one and only way for flagship devices in 2014? Only time, and manufacturers, will tell.
The magical billion number
And last but not least, 2013 was an absolute milestone for Android: Sundar Pichai, Vice President of Google, announced that a billion Android devices have been activated on the global market. And now, Google and Android get to work on the next billion devices in emerging markets and their newly released Android 4.4 KitKat.
What are some of your highlights when it comes to Android and mobile devices fro 2013?