Have you checked the calendar lately? 2016 is already here! We saw a lot of great Android-powered devices in 2015, but we have a feeling that things will only get better this year. While we don’t know exactly what 2016 has in store for us, we thought we’d all share what we’re looking forward to the most.
As always, we’d love to hear from you as well. What are you hoping to see on the Android front in 2016?
Since most of you know that I’m an HTC fan, it shouldn’t be a surprise to hear that I’m really looking forward to HTC’s 2016 flagship smartphone. The HTC One M9 was a decent phone, but it simply fell short when compared to the Samsung Galaxy S6 and LG G4. I’m hoping that HTC will wipe the slate clean and deliver a flagship device which can truly stand out from the competition (in a good way) and become one of the “must-have” gadgets of the year.
I’m also hoping that Google finally gets its act together on the tablet front. Yes, Android on tablets has been improving slowly over the past few years, but Google needs to make it a true priority. Multi-windows support will be a huge step forward, but they’ll need more than that if they want people to think of Android as a productivity platform.
I am hoping 2016 is the year “wearables” means more than smartwatches and fitness trackers. There have certainly been some interesting products released in the past year that expand wearables beyond the wrist, but we haven’t really see anything catch on yet. With so many technologies solidified at this point (even the lowest-end components are incredible these days), 2016 looks like a promising year in tech exploration.
On a related note, 2015 was the year I really dove into Google Cardboard. Oculus Rift, with its expensive, proprietary hardware is not the future of virtual reality. Google Cardboard, dirt cheap and highly accessible, is the future. I can’t wait to see what else can come out of Google Cardboard in 2016.
My main hopes for 2016 are that we see the existing products brought at least closer to their full potential. Wearables and tablets have been a primary focus for me in 2015 and I have been frequently disappointed by their limitations.
In the case of wearables, after Apple Watch was announced and launched there were some questions as to whether they had carved out a better vision for the smartwatch with a greater focus on apps and carrying out tasks on your wrist. Reality has shown that Apple was wrong and as with Android Wear the primary use case for the smartwatch is notification triage. The one feature that Apple nailed was the mobile payment integration and Android Wear needs to catch up with Android Pay support as soon as possible. GPS support was something I was waiting for as a runner and the Moto 360 Sport is proving equal to the task as a run tracking device, now we just need better support for audio content syncing to the smartwatch and more reliable bluetooth connectivity.
I would also echo Dustin that seeing some different wearable concepts would be welcome. One of my favorite and most used gadgets this year was the new Moto Hint. With the case it now offers a full day of battery life and the audio was massively upgraded from the first version. If they released a new version this year that could support stereo with a second earbud that would be an instant buy for me.
I’ll be brief with tablets as I actually think they are really close and regardless of whether it started life as an Android device or not the Pixel C is excellent Android tablet hardware. As Nick noted, multi-window support would be huge and Samsung has been doing it for years and doing it well. Another piece of the puzzle for Android tablets is already here, but not rolled out for most and that is Doze mode. The ability to come back to your tablet after a day of down time and not be greeted by a dead screen is transformative. And finally to be a bit greedy, I would really like to see better pen/stylus support, but I’m aware this is likely a pretty niche desire.
I expect/predict to see flexible and/or bendable (on purpose) devices next year or very soon. There have been a lot of roadblocks with regards to this kind of technology, but I think OEMs are on the verge of bringing this to the masses. I’m not saying these devices will be awesome right off the bat, but I think in the near future we won’t have to worry about shattered displays from device drops and phones being too big. We’ll fold them them up and they’ll fit whereever we want them to, dang it.
Looking ahead, I hope to see devices with far better battery life. 2015 brought improvements in charging and in some aspects of batteries, but we have yet to see significant change in how long smartphone batteries last. In this new year, we’ll hopefully see manufacturers finding ways to make their device’s batteries last longer, rather than simply finding ways to charge the batteries faster.
I’m also looking forward to what HTC has in store. Much like Nick Gray, I felt that while the One M9 was a good phone, it lacked the remarkability that past HTC phones have carried. With HTC under the gun with financial pressures, I’m hoping that the company will take risks and create a truly stunning device that’s both unique and functional.