Android has come a long way since its release. From the HTC Dream to the Nexus 6, everything has changed. To come so far, significant things have happened that have changed the Android world. To highlight some of these events that have occurred, I have created an Android Zodiac! Yes, I’m aware this is not the same as the Chinese Zodiac, and this doesn’t really say anything about those born in those years. If you’re looking for something like that, check out our article called “What does your phone say about you“. Anyways, let’s dive in.
2007: Year of the Open Handset Alliance
2007 was a big year in not only the Android world, but the technology world as a whole. This was the year that the first iPhone was announced, and when Google and 47 other firms announced the Open Handset Alliance that would lead to Android. The reason for this was to unite companies to “enable everyone in our industry to innovate more rapidly and respond better to consumers’ demands” by having an open operating system, Android. The SDK is available to everyone, and the goal is to have one standard among mobile phones. If you’re interested, you can even look at the website that was released for this here. Definitely a blast from the past! Anyways, it would be the Open Handset Alliance that would help make Android the most popular OS on the market.
2008: Year of the HTC Dream
In 2008, the very first Android phone was released: the HTC Dream. Also known as the T-Mobile G1, this was the first phone to showcase Android. This smartphone not only had a sliding keyboard, but it had a home screen you could customize, complete with a wallpaper and widgets. There was also a new notification system that displays the icon for an app in the status bar whenever there’s a new notification, and you can slide down from the top to view more details about the notification. There was also integration with Google services allowing access to Gmail, YouTube, and more. On top of all of that, it was backed by the OHA, Google, and a promise to have updates brought to it that would bring new features and bug fixes. This device would change how software is designed and implemented for devices everywhere. Another interesting thing about this is HTC would later be the first for other landmarks in Android. But more on that later…
2009: Year of the Android Wars
2009 was the year that most of the manufacturers we know in Android phones today started to make Android phones. Samsung, Motorola, HTC, Sony, LG, and more all threw their hat into the Android phone ring. HTC released four other smartphones after the HTC Dream; Samsung released the first Galaxy phone, along with three other phones; Motorola released three phones along with their first DROID, Sony released the first Android Ericsson phone, and LG released a phone. Below is a collection of some of the phones along with a link to their specifications.
Note: I may have missed a few devices. Please let me know what I’ve missed!
2010: Year of the Nexus
In 2010, Google released their first in-house designed smartphone: the Nexus One. Once again, HTC was the first with something in the Android space, as they manufactured the Nexus One. The Nexus One was a phone released with an unlocked bootloader for developers to create and test software on a version of Android that was untouched by manufacturers. It was also designed by Google to provide an example of what it believes other phones should look like in terms of hardware. The phone was sold online by Google, eventually being available through carriers. Little did we know, this would open a world of expectations from Android geeks everywhere as each year we now await eagerly to see what Google will release in the next Nexus. The Nexus One also was the first phone with Android 2.1 Eclair, which is another precedent set by this phone.
2011: Year of the Modern Phone
2011 saw the introduction of a lot of aspects in smartphones that consumers have come to expect of their smartphone. Displays started getting bigger, the bodies started getting thinner, and keyboards started disappearing. Screen resolutions started becoming important, and design started to focus more on looking futuristic. 2011 saw phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S II, the first Samsung Galaxy Note, the first Motorola DROID RAZR, and the Motorola DROID BIONIC. HTC and LG started to up their game too. Companies who were a part of the Android world started releasing more and more devices, and companies that weren’t involved before started to get involved. Users started to expect more out of their devices. A lot of the things you see in your current smartphone likely resembles most of the phones that came out in 2011.
Let’s be honest, 2012 was all about Samsung. Not only did they have almost 50 different models and refine their Galaxy Note in the much more successful Galaxy Note II, but they released their most successful phone ever: the Samsung Galaxy S III. The S3 turned out to overtake the Apple iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 in sales in Q3 2012, selling over 18 million units in Q3 alone. The design was different, its speed and fluidity was unprecedented, and Samsung had added features to Android through its TouchWiz UI (user-interface) that helped make the OS (operating system) more friendly. Again, the Galaxy Note II also did well, selling over 3 million units in under two months of its release. The Note II had improved on the first generation in almost every way, and can certainly be accredited for the rise in popularity of the “phablet”. Samsung was on fire, and at that time it seemed no other manufacturer could touch them.
2013: Year of the User
2013 was a big year for Android. After Samsung’s huge success in 2012, all the other manufacturers took a step back and realized they needed to change things, and focus on the user. LG released their very different LG G2, where the power and volume buttons were on the back. Sony released the Xperia Z series, where durability became a focus. HTC released the gorgeous HTC One (M7). Google/LG released the Nexus 5, which improved on the widely accepted Nexus 4. Motorola released the Moto X, which focused on genuinely useful features and consumer design, and the Moto G, which brought great functionality and speed to budget phones. In 2013, we saw a huge focus on the end-user, finally bringing Android as an ecosystem to the big leagues.
2014: Year of the Chinese
After all-around positive reception to Android devices in 2013, most manufacturers pretty much just improved on their previous flagships in small ways (which is not a bad thing). However, with little to no innovation, this made way for a new player in the Android space: Chinese manufacturers. Xiaomi especially, but companies like Huawei, Vivo, Oppo, THL, and OnePlus entered the smartphone race with some serious gusto. While most of these companies had already existed, their entries in 2014 gained a lot of attention, and money. OnePlus in particular with their very controversial invitation-only system garnered many headlines. However, Xiaomi was the company that often made a couple of entries onto lists of top-selling smartphones, such as this one. Essentially, manufacturers based in China proved that they were starting to get serious about making Android smartphones.
2015: Year of the Software Design
I know I know: 2015 has just started. So you can take this as my prediction for the big thing in 2015. Some say that it will be all about wearables; others say it will be all about phone displays. In my opinion, wearables still have a ways to go before it becomes mainstream, and curved displays can only do so much at their current state, especially considering how expensive they are to manufacture. With innovation in the hardware space becoming infrequent (except for Project Ara, but that’s not ready yet), there is really only one place left to go: software. And while new features in software are introduced all the time, I think that Android Lollipop has shown us that Android can look good. Pretty soon, iOS will not be the only pretty operating system, as more and more manufacturers adopt Lollipop; with manufacturers having their own UI skin they slap on their phones, they’ll recreate Lollipop a bit, but users are going to want the design to still be there, so there is going to be a lot of creativity in the software. Hopefully.
That wraps up the Android Zodiac! Let me know what you think 2015 will bring. Perhaps in a year, we can dig this post back up and compare and add-on what really happened.
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