It's that time of year, ladies and gents, when the pundits and predictors cast their d20 to chance a guess at what's in store for various and sundry sectors of nearly every market on the planet. That's right... it's a chance to take a stab at guessing what the future holds.
In being true to that tradition, these are my predictions for what's in store for Android in 2016. Find out why I think 2016 might be one of the biggest years yet for the platform.
1: Unlocked devices will rule
There's no way around this now. Unlocked devices are going to take command of the Android market, and they won't do this from the shadows. These devices will come out into the spotlight to show why they might be the most important development in the Android ecosystem.
2016 will see the first time an inexpensive unlocked device will usurp Samsung, HTC, Google, or Motorola as the flagship device to have. Either OnePlus, Xiaomi, or Huawei will release a flagship killer that will finally make its way to every market and take over as the "it" smartphone.
2: Bloat be gone
I believe that Android "N" (whatever it will be called) will include the ability for an end user to remove bloatware added by carriers. This will be a major win for Google and consumers.
Although Android "N" will be a massive Android upgrade, the ability to strip devices of dreaded bloatware will be the one feature to overshadow all others. That's how badly this feature is needed.
3: Android "N" will impress
I believe the major changes to Android "N" (Noughat? NomNom? Nonpareil?) will include a new, feature-rich power menu that will bring a reboot option to stock Android. Android "N" might also see a split screen feature that will allow users to run two apps simultaneously. You might also see the following features: a theme engine, a notification LED control, double-tap to wake, better wearable and auto integration, and much more.
Of course, all features will be overshadowed if "N" allows us to remove bloatware.
4: Android upgrade improvement
Android Marshmallow proved that the Android upgrade process is broken. Even those with Nexus phones (the platform that was supposed to get upgrades almost immediately upon release) have not seen upgrades months after the release of the latest iteration of the operating system.
There are many pieces to this puzzle, and I believe Google will finally solve the problem in 2016. Most of the solution will come at the expense of carriers and their testing (and addition of bloatware). Regardless of how, this has been an issue plaguing Android, and one that must be resolved in the coming year.
5: Better integration with Chromebooks
I do not think Google plans on retiring Chrome OS... it's just too important to the overall ecosystem. I do believe, however, that Google will make it easier for Chrome OS to run Android apps and make the integration between Android and Chrome OS seamless. Imagine plugging your Android device into a Chromebook to see them automatically sync with one another.
6: Massive growth for Android X
The X stands for "wear" and "auto."
I predict that Android-based wearables and the automotive take on the platform will see major growth in all markets. Wearables have struggled to make any major impact because the platform simply wasn't ready. With the release of Android "N," I believe wearables will see a massive surge in growth, as will Android Auto.
7: Android of Everything
It's time for the Internet of Things and Android to come together. Sure, you can control your Nest from Android and even manage to integrate the Amazon Echo, but that's using Android on the periphery. I believe the coming year will see the beginnings of serious Android in the home... front and center. I could see an Android "home base" appearing to herald in the Android of Everything.
8: Project Fi will take off
Google's Project Fi was launched in 2015 and has been a hit with the few users who have adopted the technology. I think 2016 will see a major growth in this Google project and future releases of Android (starting with "N") will have Fi fully integrated and ready to go with devices outside of the Nexus line.
Android is already one of the largest platforms across all markets. I believe 2016 will see another major swell in the rank and file, thanks to some serious improvements in the operating system and integration with other Google products and projects.
Share your Android predictions
What do you think is on the horizon for Android in 2016? Tell us in the comments.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.