Friday 10 May 2013

Editorial: What we want to see and what we expect from the next version of Android!

   With Google's little green robot seemingly on an endless march to world smartphone domination, it's time to turn our eyes towards the future and more specifically the next version of Android. In the last few years the platform has come a heck of a long way. The transition in style from 2.3 Gingerbread was carried forward and built upon through Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich and now we're on the latest and greatest of the two versions of Android Jelly Bean! Throughout the whole process Google has tried to keep things light and nippy and Jelly Bean was undoubtedly a triumph in that regard, making everything 'buttery' smooth and adding a good set of features with every release. 

   The real question now is where Google takes their operating system. It seems that we're at a bit of a crossroads; on the one hand Google needs to continue to innovate and extend the features for their smartphone users, but they also need to offer a more compelling solution for the tablet space because there's Microsoft and Apple working to make their tablet offerings the best too. This divide is the best way to split this article, so we'll start with what we want to see Google bring to the mobile phone side of Android and we'll perhaps throw in a few rumours here and there too!

Mobile Phones!

   Android is most fundamentally an operating system designed and targeted at mobile phones and
Google will be all too aware that they need to keep their focus on this arena. With the next iteration of Android we really, really want to see what Google does about unifying all of the accounts you have on your phone, and yes some people have called this 'Google Babble'.

"The rumours call it Google Babble,
We call it a necessity!"
   According to the rumours, Babble is meant to be Google's answer to Skype and to a certain extent iMessage and BBM. People will automatically point to Google Talk as the obvious solution here and we think that it is. What we'd like to see is Google's version of Skype, specifically for mobile phones. We want VoIP, video chat and instant messaging (with delivery reports) all bundled together. Obviously you can get all of this from Google's and third party apps already, but we're confident Google could do a better job by bundling their services together into one simple app!

    Perhaps a good way of managing this would be through the creation of a new messaging Hub. Take a look at the 'People' hub on Windows and Windows Phone and then look over at what Blackberry have done. Both are great solutions and the amount of time and inconvenience Android users currently have from clicking in and out of apps to see our notifications at the moment is silly. We've already seen Google start to head down this path when they chose to integrate GMail directly into the notification bar and we fully expect and want to see Google take this further with Facebook, Twitter and other email services!

   Those are the two main things for us at the moment, but obviously others things like 'performance profiles' seem to be very popular at the moment and indeed Sony are investing heavily in their 'battery stamina' optimisations at the moment and you might have noticed that Qualcomm are working on their battery stamina apps too, so we expect this to be important in the next version of Android whether Google implement any special settings or not.

   There's smaller things like a child or guest mode and password protection on individual apps which we'd love to see, but we expect that Google will be more keen on building on their lockscreen widget offering, especially since Facebook Home has launched, as well as things like Google Now improvements, speed optimisations and more generally making sure everything is seamless!

Android Tablets!

   When it comes to tablets it's a whole new ball game! Google have serious competition from both Apple and Microsoft in this space as tablets and computers are becoming one and the same! You might have seen the advert for the HP Envy X2, which truly is a tablet and computer in one and that's precisely the sort of device which Google has to challenge with the next version of Android.

   With that in mind we expect Google to work really hard on the tablet interface, we're not really sure the best way for Google to solve the issue, but the dock at the bottom of the screen used to be fantastic, perhaps some sort of gesture could call the 'Home, Back and Recently Used App' menu up, that would be an excellent feature.

   We're not too sure what else Google can do to the Android interface without jeopardising the You might have seen some of the reports lately which have seen Intel saying that Android is prime for inexpensive notebooks and we full expect Google to make this happen with the next version of Android!
touch experience and the individuality of Android. One thing is for certain though and that is that Google will start making plans for companies to use keyboards and detachable docks!

   Another thing which we still want to see Google implement is a cross device messaging service. We want to be able to reply to our SMS messages without swapping between Phone and Tablet all the time and perhaps Android 4.3 or 5, whatever it is eventually called, will have this feature on board!


   So that's what we want, now it's your turn, tell us what you want to see in the next version of Android in the comments below! You never know if we get a few good ones we might make a follow up 'What fans want from the next version of Android' article!


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