Android In 2011: 4 Things To Look Forward To

2010 might have seem some of the greatest developments in the mobile phone space ever. Between the Nexus One, the proliferation of 1GHz processors, the iPhone 4 and simply the sheer number of good handsets released seemingly monthly, it seems like 2011 will have a hard time living up. But with the mobile phone market moving as fast as the PC market was in the early part of the 2000’s, 2011 might continue the trend of quickly-improving handsets. Let’s take a look at some of the developments coming to the Android world this year.
1. Android 2.3 Gingerbread and 3.0 Honeycomb.
Android’s newest OS update, Android 2.3 Gingerbread, will begin to make its mark on the Android space in 2011. As of now, the only phone with an official 2.3 build is the Nexus S, but look for that to change and change quickly. The Nexus One’s Gingerbread update is coming, and look for the usual cycle of “when is phone x getting gingerbread?” to start churning up mighty soon, but as usual phones with Cyanogenmod will get it before the official updates.
After Gingerbread comes Honeycomb, which is Android 3.0–supposedly designed to be used on both phones and tablets. Google is cranking out updates to Android at a fever pace, so will we see more than 2 versions of Android in 2011? It’s possible.
2. Android Tablets take a shot at the iPad
2011 will be the year of the Android tablet. In a space largely dominated by Apple’s iPad at this point, in 2011 Google and Android hardware makers like Motorola, Samsung and HTC will attempt to make their own names making tablets. Google has said that Android 3.0 will have a native tablet-optimized interface, which will bring a big improvement to 2010’s best-selling Galaxy Tab.
With official Google support for tablets in the Android OS, expect there to be a flood of tablets coming to the market in 2011. Android took significant steam from the iPhone starting with the Droid, can the OS do it again with tablets?
3. Dual-Core Processors come to mobile devices
Think dual-core processors were only for PCs? That’s all about to chance with the planned introduction of several Android phones with dual-core processors. The Cortex A9 processor from ARM is the first dual-core mobile CPU, and expect to see it in lots of new Android phones this year. The first dual-core phone out will be the LG Optimus 2x, but it’s unlikely if it will make it to the USA. HTC’s new Thunderbolt for Verizon is also rumored to have a dual-core processor, but that rumor has not been confirmed by HTC or Verizon. Regardless of exactly when we will see them, there will definitely be several dual-core Android handsets on the market by the middle of the year. If you’re looking to buy a new phone, definitely wait until after CES next week to do so.
4. 4G, 4G, and a different kind of 4G
Another thing to look our for in 2010 is “4G,” which is a blanket term that carriers are using to describe all of their next-gen wireless networks. Sprint and T-Mobile have their 4G network available in select cities already, while Verizon and AT&T are set to roll their networks and new phones out this year. The HTC Evo, Samsung Epic 4G, and T-Mobile G2 are the 4G phone leaders, but with Verizon phones like the HTC Thunderbolt on board for January releases, 4G is going to invade the airwaves quickly this year.
So what’s the difference between all of the different carriers’ 4G networks? It’s a complicated distinction, but Gizmodo does a good job of breaking it down here. In short: 4g LTE is the newest and best, and it will be employed by Verizon and AT&T. Spring is using WiMAX 4G, while T-Mobile has gotten some flack from media and competitors about it’s “4G” network, which is really only HSPA+, or “3.5G.”
In any case, your Android phones’ connectivity is about to get a lot faster no matter what carrier you have, so look out.