Image: quietbits/Shutterstock

It’s almost the end of yet another year. I went to bed on December 31st, 2020 and it seems I woke up and it was already the end of the year.

How did that happen?

Let’s not discuss the relativistic nature of time. Instead, let’s bend time to our will and predict what’s to come for Android in 2022.

If my connections to the spirit realm are speaking the truth, it’s going to be an exciting year. Let’s dig in.

Android 13

While Android 12 was groundbreaking for the platform, I think Android 13 is going to go the safe route. The team of developers and designers will spend much of their effort refining Material You to not only fix bugs but to refine it for more stability and performance. The UI will come out of the upgrade looking and performing better than ever.

But Material You won’t be the only sauce in the next release. I think Google has a few other tricks up its sleeve, some of which will be most welcome and some that may not be (more on this in a bit). I have a feeling Google is going to come out with some pretty game-changing security technology for the next iteration of Android. This new security piece will be aimed at preventing malware and ransomware and will come in the form of a new type of app and permissions sandboxing.

SEE: BYOD Approval Form (TechRepublic Premium)

Pixel 7 will add face unlock biometric

I think the major change for the Pixel 7 won’t come in the way of a completely new facelift for the device, but the addition of face unlock biometric authentication. I believe this will be in addition to the fingerprint scanner (instead of as a replacement). With face unlock added, users will then have four options to choose from for authentication:

  • PIN
  • Pattern
  • Fingerprint
  • Face ID

This addition should appease all of those Android stans who bemoaned the loss of face unlock with the Pixel 6.

More curved displays

When the Pixel 6 Pro was released with the curved display, my initial thought was that it felt a bit backward. But that smooth feeling in the hand and classy look cannot be beaten. I think we’re going to see a resurgence in the trend this year and the curved display will trickle down from a flagship-only feature into the realm of midrange devices. With maybe a few exceptions, these curved displays won’t function as they did with the Samsung Galaxy models that displayed content on the side of the phone. Those makers who decide to go that gimmicky route will find displaying content on the curved edges to fail pretty quickly. Either way, the curved display is going to make a major comeback.

Folding phone fixed

Up until now, the biggest issue with the folding phone was that, inevitably, the displays would end up with a permanent crease at the folding point. Once the crease appeared, users found their very expensive phones to be less than desirable.

This problem has prevented many a user (such as myself) from purchasing a folding phone.

I believe, however, this coming year we’ll see a manufacturer solve that problem. When they do, the folding phone will slowly become a mainstay in the Android world.

That company looks to be Oppo. They proved it’s possible with the Find N and I believe 2022 will see them perfect that design.

Pixel Watch

We’ve been waiting on the Pixel Watch for some time now. I’m fairly confident 2022 will see the release of this unicorn wearable. Why is this important? Because Android smartphones still lag in popularity to Apple’s take on the tech. The Pixel Watch could change that but only if Google plays it smart. What they need to do is release two different versions of the Pixel Watch, a midrange and a flagship.

One of the reasons why Google’s mobile platform is so dominant across the globe is that of inexpensive Android phones. If they want to see the same thing in the smartwatch space, they need to cater to those with less expendable income as well as those with money to burn. If they do this, the Pixel Watch will be a massive hit.

SEE: Android 12 cheat sheet: Everything you need to know (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

WearOS battery life will exceed all others

As a result of Google’s effort on the Pixel Watch, WearOS will receive a lot of love. I believe one big selling point will be the battery life, which will demolish the competition. Right now, Android smartwatch battery life is not great (by a long shot). If Google wants to make big strides in the Android smartwatch space, it’s going to have to address this problem.

I believe 2022 will see Android smartwatch battery life double … at least for those devices that support the latest version of WearOS.

Samsung Galaxy 22 will be the best phone of the year

As much as I’d like to see the Pixel 7 become the phone to have in 2022, I believe that title will land squarely in the lap of Samsung. The release of the Galaxy 22 won’t see much of a departure design-wise, but the phone will be powerhouse (maybe sporting a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 chipset) and might very well see wireless charging coming in at 45W (making it one of the fastest charging phones available).

Voice unlock will become a thing

This might sound a bit too futuristic, but I’ve been waiting for this for some time. I think 2022 will finally see sound-based biometrics on an Android smartphone, so voice unlock will become a thing. I also believe this authentication method will prove to be the most secure option available. And to assuage those who are overly paranoid about Google listening 24/7, I believe this will be handled locally with the help of the Tensor Chip. With voice unlock handled onboard, there’s no need to be concerned about Big Brother watching (listening to) you.

At least not for device unlocking.

Sideloading apps will no longer be allowed

This has been a long time coming and will be the thing to anger a good number of Android users. I think 2022 will see Google simply shut down the sideloading of applications. And once this is done, there’ll be no going back and no getting around it.

Google will do this in the name of stopping malware and ransomware. When it does, it has to then understand the onus will be completely on its shoulders to protect users from malicious applications.

Midrange phones will close the gap with flagship devices

2022 will be the year of the midrange phone. Not only that, but some midrange devices will dramatically close the gap between theirs and the flagship space. We should start seeing more and more midrange devices look and behave like flagship phones, while still selling at midrange prices. This will have the added benefit of forcing manufacturers to lower the prices of their flagships.

First graphene battery for a smartphone

Finally, I think 2022 will bring about the first indication of a graphene battery for a smartphone. I believe Samsung will unveil a prototype at some point, but it won’t go into production until the following year. These types of batteries will revolutionize smartphones because they’re smaller and far more powerful than the options we currently have. These batteries will not only be able to hold exponentially more charge, but they’ll also be a lot safer than Li-ion batteries.

This will have the added bonus of allowing device manufacturers to design thinner, lighter smartphones.

And there you have it, my Android predictions for 2022. I think it’s going to be a banner year for Google’s smartphone platform.

Subscribe to the Innovation Insider Newsletter

Catch up on the latest tech innovations that are changing the world, including IoT, 5G, the latest about phones, security, smart cities, AI, robotics, and more. Delivered Tuesdays and Fridays

Subscribe to the Innovation Insider Newsletter

Catch up on the latest tech innovations that are changing the world, including IoT, 5G, the latest about phones, security, smart cities, AI, robotics, and more. Delivered Tuesdays and Fridays