When you watch something for a while, you begin to notice the details of it. The small intricacies that make an object, person, place or anything, unique. Seeing all those details, you can begin to know more about what you’re watching. What it does, where it’s been and where it’s going. Six years with Android and it’s easy to see where it’s going. Android has a bright future ahead.
Google brought forth a storm of announcements at Google I/O 2014. Embedded inside all of the news were two things that secured the years ahead for Android. Beginning with Android One, Google set Android on a course to tackle growing markets throughout the world. Android One is a program by Google that gives manufacturers reference designs to create low-cost, high-quality (for their intended country) smartphones.
Budget smartphones have long been the bane of Android’s existence. There was a time when people simply were adverse to Android phones because the market had been flooded by cheap, low-quality Android phones. Rather than allowing these to continue to taint Android in other countries, Google is combating budget phones with Android One. Android One is what Android needed all along. It gets high-quality Android phones into people’s hands, often as their first smartphone. As those people look to upgrade in the future, they haven’t been put off by Android but are rather looking for a higher-end Android device, bringing new customers into the main Android fold.
With Android One assisting growth, Android should have no shortage of customers in the coming years. There’s more to Android’s future than growth, though. Android has a major enhancement coming with Android L and Material Design.
Since its roots, Android has been plagued by fragmentation and lack of cohesion. The problem only grew worse over time when Google split phones and tablets into two separate branches of Android. With Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, Google reunited the two. The problem wasn’t solved, however, as users were on multiple versions of Android and not everybody was getting the same Android experience.
Since that point, Google has been making small steps to unifying Android, especially with other Google products and services. Android has received speed improvements and requires less RAM and processing power to run. This has allowed, in theory, more low-end Android phones to gain newer versions of Android. With Android L and Material Design, Google is taking the unity to a whole new level.
Android L brings forth an even faster Android. As with KitKat, Android L requires less power to run than previous versions of Android. But Android L is also bringing in Material Design. Material design is Google’s new design language that will span across all Google software. While the approach may seem large and overbearing, it’s something that Android has long needed. Google’s products have always felt separate from one another, even though they’re used in close conjunction. Android, as well, has had varying styles throughout, a product of open source and fragmentation. Material Design will finally ensure that Google’s products actually feel like they’re from, well, Google.
A large benefit of a cohesive design is that it gives Android identity. Over time, Material Design will become what people associate with Google, and in turn, Android. People will see software using Material Design, and immediately recognize it as something using Google software. Whether that’s Android, Chrome or something else, Material Design links them together. Once those people begin using Material Design, they’ll likely want to stick to products that incorporate. Material Design will become what feels natural to them, and Android will benefit from that.
Looking ahead, Android has great road in front of it. As we continue to watch Android, we should see it grow further, and in ways and places that we may not have expected. So sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.