This past year has been a roller coaster. We've gone from seeing phones with Android 2.3 – Gingerbread and tablets with the awful Honeycomb, to phones with 1080p displays running Android 4.1 and 4.2. But what are we going to see in 2013? We're going to see all kinds of new and cool things come from Google, and the rest of the Android manufacturers.
More Pixels and Bigger Displays
In 2011, Samsung launched the Galaxy Note in Europe and other parts of the world. It sold like hot cakes. So in January, 2012, Samsung decided to announce that it'll making it's way to the States onto AT&T. The Galaxy Note was a 5.3-inch device with a stylus known as the S Pen. Now let's fast forward to the second half of 2012. Samsung releases their second generation Galaxy Note (Galaxy Note II) and makes it available on all five major carriers in the US. It sells millions, of course. In November, HTC and Verizon introduced us to the HTC Droid DNA. It sits at 5 inches, so not quite the size of the Galaxy S3 and not quite the size of the Galaxy Note 2. On that 5-inch display it also features a full 1080p HD resolution, that's 1920×1080 giving the device a 441 PPI. That is insane. And we are only going to see more of that in 2013.
Already being rumored for 2013 is the Oppo Find 5, which has a 5-inch display, along with the ZTE Nubia Z5, Huawei Ascend D2 and Ascend Mate. The Huawei Ascend Mate is a 6.1-inch device. Who needs something that big? That's almost the size of the Nexus 7. Also the HTC M7 is rumored to have the same 1080p resolution of the HTC Droid DNA. With a slightly smaller screen, 4.7-inch, it'll have an even higher PPI. So in 2013, we'll be seeing plenty of higher pixel densities and bigger displays.
Quad-Core All the Things!
In 2012, it seemed like everything had a quad-core processor. But not quite everything did. Now that most quad-core chips can have an LTE chip on-board, we'll most likely see quad-core processors in everything hitting the US in 2013. Last year, the first major device to hit the market with a quad-core processor was the HTC One X. But in the US it had a dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, just like the US variants of the Samsung Galaxy S3, all due to LTE. The first flagship device to hit the US with a quad-core was the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and the LG Optimus G (AT&T and Sprint).
In 2013, we'll most likely be seeing devices with 2.0GHz quad-core processors. Which means those things are going to fly through Android. Already the Galaxy Note 2 which has a 1.6GHz quad-core Exynos processor is flying through Android 4.1, so just imagine bumping it to 2.0GHz. That's going to be crazy. I'm willing to bet, by the summer we'll see a few 2.0GHz quad-core processors in a few different devices.
Now this, we aren't sure of but it would make a whole lot of sense. Every May (last year it was pushed back to late June), Google has their annual developer Conference. Google I/O, where developers come and learn about new releases from Google, get some hands-on time with the experts at Google, and of course get some free toys. Last year everyone got a Galaxy Nexus, Nexus Q and Nexus 7. Now it would make sense that Google would introduce the next major release of Android (Android 5.0) at Google I/O instead of their fall event, right? That way they can have a huge show, with lights, music, and everything. And of course many journalists and developers will already be there.
Now what do we expect to see in Android 5.0? Well of course there will be more work done with Project Butter. I'd expect to see some new features for Quick Settings as well, for example customizing the settings in that panel. But as far as new features? That's a tough one. We're kinda far out from Google I/O at this point, and from another version of Android coming out too. So feel free to hit up the comments below with what you think Google will throw at us with Android 5.0. I'm calling it now, that it'll be Android 5.0 – Key Lime Pie.
The Nexus Program
This year the Nexus Program saw some changes. It introduced not just a tablet, but two high-end tablets with low-end prices. Some might argue that the Nexus 7 isn't high end. But what other 7-inch tablets have the same or relatively the same specs as the Nexus 7? The Nexus program also killed off CDMA support for the most part this year. Releasing the Nexus 4 as a GSM-only device, and so far no plans to see a CDMA or LTE variant.
In 2013, I'm expecting to see a 5-inch Nexus phone. Especially with the market pushing to 5-inch and higher devices already. I also expect to see refreshes of the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 either at Google I/O or Google's fall event where they announce a "minor" update to Android. I'm also expecting some type of Nexus Q replacement/upgrade. Something to do with "Android at Home". I've heard it said by many other writers at other sites, but that's one place where Google has struggled, and that's at home and in the living room. Sure Google TV is great, but it doesn't get as much support as it should.
Now this is something interesting. In the last few months, we've heard plenty of rumors of Google talking with Dish Network to become a wireless carrier, utilizing all the spectrum that Dish has acquired since 2008. For those of us that are die-hard Android fans (which is most of us) this would be huge. Especially if they follow the pricing pattern they've been doing for the Nexus 4, 7, and 10 this year. But the latest rumors have pointed at these talks having died off. So we may not get our Google Wireless anytime soon.
But that doesn't mean Google can't create a MVNO on T-Mobile. If you've followed Android at all, you'll know that Google and T-Mobile are very tight together. The first Android device, the G1, was available on T-Mobile. Google Music was an exclusive to T-Mobile for a short time, and T-Mobile has always had the Nexus devices available. T-Mobile is also huge on allowing locked devices come to their network. When T-Mobile launches their 4G LTE network in mid-2013, I'd expect Google to launch an MVO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) on T-Mobile's network, similar to Straight Talk, Simple Mobile, Solavei, etc. What do you think?
While 2012 was a huge year for Android, I do believe that 2013 is going to be an even bigger year for the platform. It all gets started January 8th in Las Vegas at CES. Who's excited to see what 2013 brings to Android? Let us know your 2013 predictions in the comments below.