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2015 in review: The year in Android

Florence Ion | Jan. 4, 2016
From Android Auto, to Stagefright, to BlackBerry entering the fold, we look back at the year in Android.

Android cameras grow up

This year, Android manufacturers made photography a priority. Companies like Samsung, LG, and even Motorola wised up by stuffing better, more capable rear-facing—and front-facing!—cameras into their phones, with better software to match. 

This wasn’t the case last year, or even the year before, where it seemed that photography was the last thing an Android phone maker paid mind to. But now, you can prop up a device like the LG V10 on a smartphone tripod and take long exposure shots that look fantastic, and the iPhone no longer holds the crown as the de facto best camera experience.

Android One is a let down

Android One, which was announced at Google I/O 2014, was meant to bring Android to the masses in emerging markets like India and South America. But despite optimistic sales numbers, the affordable Android program is struggling to gain much traction. 

Google isn’t giving up, however. It’s still investing time in developing software like offline modes for Google Maps and YouTube in an effort to line up with the needs of these sometimes data-poor countries. Sundar Pichai also continues to underline how important it is for Android to make it in countries like India. He is confident that “in 2016, there will be more Android users in India than in the US.” Whether that will translate to sales numbers is another thing entirely. Android One still faces stiff competition overseas.

Nexus devices rule everything around me

nexus6p or5x 2589 
Nexus 5X or Nexus 6P? It’s hard to choose between the two best Nexus devices ever made. Credit: Florence Ion

2015 was definitely the year of the Nexus device. Not only did Google announce two new Nexus smartphones this year—the Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X—but they’re both the near-perfect embodiment of what a stock Android phone should be.

We’ve yet to see much from Google in terms of its tablet trajectory, however. The Pixel C has finally materialized, but we’re not entirely sure what it’s meant for. Is it for productivity, or is it just a really decent Android tablet? We’ll likely see more of that vision in the next year.

I’ve noticed Google putting more stock into marketing and advertising for its Nexus devices, and I don’t remember the company ever appealing to the common consumer this much. I constantly see commercials for Nexus phones on Hulu and on regular cable television. It’s great, and with Material Design and all the granularity of Marshmallow, Google can make a real case that a Nexus phone offers a great experience for the common consumer.

 

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