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Android expectations and predictions for 2012

by Marty Gabel

As we enter the new year, how about some more crazy predictions about what we can expect in the Android world during 2012? Things moved pretty quickly in 2011. We saw the emergence of Android tablets (some good, some bad), and the continued growth of apps and games (both quality and quantity) in the Android Market was phenomenal of course. Here are some thoughts on what 2012 will bring. Let’s see how many of these pan out.

Quad-core quality

Well, this one should be no surprise. Dual-core Android devices are becoming standard right now (though, this particular writer finds his trusty single-core smartphone still does a fine job). Expect quad-core phones to be released some time this year.

We’ve already seen the first quad-core tablet released, courtesy of Asus and its Transformer Prime, and we can probably expect quad-core smartphones some time around May. Just last week, The Next Web reported that Samsung could debut its quad-core Galaxy III devices as soon as February with a release date around the second quarter of 2012. Man, Angry Birds will run super quick on those...

Games continue to grow

Speaking of which, I expect 2012 to be a better year for Android gaming. At the beginning of 2011, we were starved of many of the best titles. Sure, there were your popular favorites, and plenty of casual games, but these days, every day brings the release of top quality titles to the Android Market.

More importantly, we’re beginning to see releases for some big games on both iOS and Android simultaneously. Though you’ll still need a pretty powerful device to play many of the newest, flashiest titles, this is an encouraging sign for the future. No longer will Android play second-fiddle to iOS when it comes to seeing the best and brightest games. Despite a somewhat fragmented development process, many game makers would be foolish to ignore the ever-growing Android user-base.

Fragmentation still an issue

Now for a bit of doom and gloom. I’m just not 100 percent confident that Ice Cream Sandwich is going to be the defining OS that unifies Android completely. In fact, I can see more developers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble instead continue to create their own devices which run a form of Android, but cover it up further with their own enhancements. This is no bad thing for consumers, but in 2012 Android itself could face the same issues it always has with so many devices running so many different versions of its operating system, and manufacturers continuing to cover up Android with their own skins. We continue to read about how ‘closed’ the supposedly open Android system really is. Despite Google’s huge success, there’s still much work to be done.

We’ll still be finding some phones run some apps, some tablets run others, some devices will play the latest games, some smartphones won’t, and all that fractured unhappiness may still scare developers away. After all, Gingerbread was public at the end of 2010, yet by the end of 2011, still just 50.6 percent are running the operating system with most of us clamoring for a taste of Ice Cream Sandwich.

Perhaps 2012 will finally be the year that Google cleans things up. I just wouldn’t bet on it.

HTML5 to flourish

The continuing growth of HTML5, however, may offer some relief to this mobile fragmentation. Remember, this fragmentation not only affects the Android consumer depending on what device they running, but all smartphone users because it means developing separate apps for iOS, Android, BlackBerry, et al.

HTML5 should help unify things a bit. Already, we’re beginning to see apps like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter resembling their mobile website counterparts and each other much more closely. We should, hopefully, begin to see updates rolled out across to all mobile users, regardless of the OS they’re running. Now, this definitely shouldn’t mean the death of apps as we know them, simply their continuing evolution and development.