Android is primed to have a banner year in 2020. Find out what Jack Wallen believes will lead this charge.
It's been an interesting ride with Android over the years, and 2019 is no exception. The release of Android 10, malware attacks, the Pixel 4, artificial intelligence (AI)--you name it, and Android has experienced it.
What does 2020 have in store for the mobile platform? Let's fling back the curtain, gaze into the crystal ball, and prognosticate.
SEE: Tech Predictions For 2020: More must-read coverage (TechRepublic on Flipboard)
1. Samsung Galaxy S11 will be the must-have phone
I would love to say the Pixel 5 will be the phone to have in 2020, but I would be wrong. Why? The most sought-after phone in 2020--no matter the platform--will be the Samsung Galaxy S11. Samsung has proved, year after year, that it can craft the most elegant devices on the planet, and the Galaxy S11 will take this to new heights.
With a combination of the wraparound edge screen and an almost bezel-free display, you won't find a more gorgeous device on the market. But the Galaxy S11 won't just be a pretty face--under that display will beat the heart of a champion: A 100+ MP camera, ridiculous battery life (thanks to some special tech rolled out by Samsung), 8k video recording, and more. This phone will be truly special, and it will become the flagship of all flagships.
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2. The Pixel 5 will be spectacular
After the price of the Pixel 4 dropped $200, I went ahead and purchased one, and I don't regret it. At $799 for the 128 GB storage version, the Pixel 4 is a solid upgrade from the Pixel 3. That being said, the Pixel 4 received such bad press that Google is going back to the drawing board. Instead of repeating what happened with the Pixel 4, Google learned from its mistakes and will do everything it can to outdo Samsung in 2020.
Although Google's efforts will fail because no company will best Samsung this coming year, the device that comes out of this will be nothing short of spectacular. With the same game-changing camera on top of a much-improved battery, more powerful CPU, more memory, and a sleeker design, the Pixel 5 will at least retain the Google Pixel fanbase and at best bring more into the fold. However, the Pixel 5 will still be in the shadow of the Galaxy S11.
3. Google Play lockdown
Due to the increase in malware/spyware/adware/ransomware attacks on the Android platform, I predict that Google will finally lock down the Play Store to make it more difficult for developers to release their apps and nearly impossible for adware networks to gain access to devices. Although this might stifle developers' abilities, this is a necessity for Android platform security. This could also lead Google to revamp the ad services for Android apps. Might this be the end of ad-supported software? It could, but Google will have to replace it with some other incentive for developers; otherwise, Android users will see the end of the free application.
SEE: Android gift guide: The best gifts in 2019 (TechRepublic)
4. Google will adopt the mainline Linux Kernel
Google has made it clear that its preference is to adopt the mainline Linux kernel, which makes perfect sense because it would enable a more efficient update process and enable the kernel to be updated between major releases. This will also lead to significant challenges for Google. If Google wants to make this happen, the company will have to make serious changes to the Android development process. If Google does this--and I believe it will--Android will be much improved. I see serious efforts for this unfolding by Q4 of 2020. One thing to understand is that more efficient updates aren't the only driving forces behind the adoption of the mainline kernel; along with this change will come a heightened level of security for the platform.
5. Every Android flagship device will support 5G
By the end of 2020, every flagship Android device will support 5G; in fact, 5G will be a requirement. Some OEMs are already releasing devices capable of 5G connectivity--even though the protocol hasn't reached every city--but 2020 will see 5G become the standard. The big question is: Will the technology reach the masses? Although the majority of new Android devices released in 2020 will support 5G, it'll require a major push for the protocol to be widespread. This will be a banner year for network upgrades to keep pace with the devices.
SEE: The best Android phones of the past decade (TechRepublic)
6. An Android watch will be a hit
The year 2020 will finally see the release of an Android watch that might usurp the Apple Watch as the ruler of wearables. Chances are the smartwatch will be the next iteration of the Samsung Active 2, though a lot of third-party companies are releasing quality Android watches (such as Amazfit). It is possible that Google will release that rumored Pixel watch in conjunction with the Pixel 5; if so--and Google does it right--the Pixel watch could be the wearable to have. Regardless of which company winds up at the finish line first, 2020 will be the year of the Android watch.
7. Android 11 will have impressive features
Android 11 will build on what Android 10 has done, with a few additions. One addition that will make Android faster is scoped storage, which is a new way to organize the information and files that apps can read. I believe Android 11 will expand on the chat bubble idea that was rumored to be coming to Android 10, but never came to fruition. Android 11 will also see the sought-after--but not game-changing--feature: Keeping Bluetooth enabled when switching to Airplane mode.
SEE: 10 biggest Android flops of the decade (TechRepublic)
I wouldn't be surprised to see the ability to capture screens built into the platform, which means not having to rely on third-party applications like AZ Screen Recorder.
AI will continue its rise to dominance in the Android platform, with a focus on security.
I believe that technology within the Google Camera app, which helps create such stunning photos in the Pixel devices, will start rolling out widespread. It's early in the development cycle, so there's not much to go on at the moment. Even so, 2020 should see an improvement to what we saw in 2019, which will lead to the best Android release to date.
8. Android will dominate market share globally
Sorry Apple, 2020 will be the year Android finally breaks the 90% market share threshold. Although Android won't reach such heights in the US, the global market will be dominated by Android. Considering 2019 saw an 87% Android market share, this should come as no surprise to anyone who watches the market. The main factors for this breakthrough will be the Samsung Galaxy S11 and the abundance of 5G-enabled devices.
There you have it: My predictions for Android in the coming year. No matter which of my predictions comes true, it's surely to be an exciting time for the Android platform and the Google ecosystem.
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