The best Android news in 2020 (and 11 things we keep waiting for)

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The best Android news in 2020 (and 11 things we keep waiting for)

After a new year accumulated in the history of Android, it’s time to take stock of how 2020 did our operating system. And the truth is that it did not evolve excessively since Android 11 It is not a version with too many new features, at least for the user. Yes there is a relative improvement in updates, also in security. But these improvements come as a priority to the highest segment of devices.

Android has been giving war since 2008, accumulates more than 12 years during which it has evolved in an abysmal way, both in design and in functionalities. If we compare captures of the initial versions with the current ones we would find a notable difference. But Would the same thing happen with a comparison between the Android of 2019 and that of 2020? Since we are nearing the end of the year, let’s see all the changes that the operating system has undergone and what we ask of it for 2021.

Privacy became more important

Vpn google one

Android 11 has meant greater privacy for the user since Google has implemented more control of the permissions allowing the user accept them for single use, with the advantage that this supposes. Granular permissions are a breakthrough, although it would be necessary for Google to grant such one-time permissions to all access control and not only to the most delicate (location, microphone and camera).

In addition to everything visible to the user, Google has renewed the system of APIs (access interfaces for applications to acquire data from certain components) raising the requirements to comply with the Android 11 level 30. This implies greater privacy for the user, but also various annoyances (especially for developers): apps cannot access all storage by defaultThey also cannot receive the complete list of installed applications.

The pressure on privacy will be even more noticeable in 2021 due to the relevance this aspect is having in software environments. We will see how Google manages to combine this trend with huge volume of data acquired by the company thanks to the majority use of Android worldwide.

2020 is a historic year: Google and Apple collaborated on the Tracking API

Covid 19 Exposure

We all know what will be the event that will mark 2020 in the list of annual summaries: the coronavirus pandemic. Covid-19 has marked absolutely everything, from the use of communication apps to the registry of possible infections. Google and Apple collaborated closely to bring an API to their mobiles with which to keep track of possible infections. It is a historic event that, unfortunately, is not giving the good results that were expected.

Despite the fact that Google and Apple collaborated closely and in record time, the implementation by the different countries it was neither homogeneous nor effective. Delays in the creation of different applications, lack of implementation with health systems, communication errors that ended up causing mistrust… Although the mobile phone can be a great tool to identify close contacts implementation has not been as accurate and efficient.

Sharing is easier thanks to Nearby Share

Share Nearby

It has been one of the great novelties of 2020 even though it has gone a bit unnoticed: Android already have a native system with which share all kinds of content with each other. Contacts, links, images, videos and even applications: just activate ‘Share with Nearby on both Android devices for the magic to work. AND It will also come to computers with Chrome.

Upgrade improvements

Update android

Dedicating a summary to Android involves mentioning updates, no matter when you read this. Still, we can say that 2020 was an improvement in the way new software reaches devices; either from the manufacturer or from Google itself.

The Play Store introduced updates for all mobiles and tablets regardless of brand. Google has been dividing the software dependencies so that a basic portion (Project Mainline) can reach almost all users since land from the Android store.

The security updates In the form of monthly or quarterly patches they also spread to more makes and models. The problem is that any novelty in software, either as firmware or as security, more likely to reach more modern and expensive devices than the catalog that has been on the market for a while. This remains unchanged and there is no sign that it will change in the future.

Another notable change in the upgrade landscape relates to the Google / Qualcomm deal: future owners with a Snapdragon SoC (starting by 888) would have four years of updates.

Google Play has evolved for the better

Google play

It is not that the Google Play store is an element indistinguishable from Android since this app is only included if the device is certified by Google (Will we see the end of the Huawei veto during 2021? Hopefully so). However, Any change made in the Play Store ends up having an impact on most devices. And this year we are witnessing the introduction of many of those changes.

We have already commented that one of Google’s improvements in terms of updates is that they now also come through the Play Store. Further, Google has increased the security of the store, as well expanded inspections, but there is still an excess of ‘wide sleeve’.

He Play Pass subscription service expanded to more countries during 2020, also the conditions of family plans were improved (Google allows share Stadia games, but not yet the purchases within the mobile applications).

Bloatware has been reduced during 2020

Choose Browser

With the European Union monopoly lawsuits Google introduced various changes to the startup of an Android. During 2020, the having to choose the search engine among several options, Duck Duck Go included. And it would not be surprising if the antitrust authorities end up making the segmentation of Android certified by Google mandatory.

In America they are getting serious about trials of big technology. And it would not be strange if we were to witness in 2021 the birth of a Android increasingly lightweight from Google applications, all in favor of avoiding monopolies. As with search engines, we may have to choose the Google applications pre-installed on the system. Same as when selecting a package from ‘GApps‘before flashing to a ROM.

What else do we ask of Android during 2021?

  • Updates are still pending. Google has improved this problem with updates within Google Play, also with agreements such as Qualcomm. Even so, most manufacturers continued to update their catalog late, even omitting a good part of devices that are suitable for updating. It does not seem that 2021 is going to be the year that brings the definitive solution.
  • Google Play deserves better security and quality. Play Protect has improved trust in the Android app store without being the definitive solution. Malware keeps creeping in, advertising abuses continue to exist and also the fraud. Furthermore, a significant amount of the catalog is of very low quality: Google should manually monitor the software that is published on Google Play.
  • Real desktop mode. Android 11 released a desktop interface that can be activated from the developer settings, but it is neither complete nor can it be used directly. Let’s hope Google implements it so that connecting the mobile to an external screen offers a true desktop experience.
  • Option to record calls. Some brands include this possibility, even Google offers it in depending on which countries. But it does not come by default on Android even though it is a highly requested (and delicate) feature.
  • Access to non-customized ROMs. Google introduced the GSI (generic system images) so that it was easier for manufacturers to update, also so that users could easily change the ROM for a generic one. And neither one nor the other, I wish depersonalizing a phone was simple and universal.
  • More information on Google Play. The official Android store should offer more data on all the applications it distributes. What are the privacy risks, cost of the different purchases within the application, what achievements are included … Also the permissions should be clearer.
  • More native customization. There’s no denying that Android is highly customizable, but Google doesn’t natively offer the same as many custom layers. Option to install icon packs, accent colors for menus, unified themes …
  • New boost to Android One. During 2020 this variant of the operating system has received less attention, both from Google and from the different manufacturers. Nokia is one of the brands that maintains its support for Android One; beyond here the supply of devices is almost nil.
  • Uninstall unwanted apps. Some of the ‘bloatware’ that comes with each phone cannot be removed or even deactivated. Google should impose this possibility on manufacturers; apart from imposing it on your own apps, of course.
  • Smaller Android phones. It seems like a losing battle, but we will keep trying: we want more mobile size content. And without losing too many features along the way, as with the Google Pixel 4a, one of the benchmarks in Android for 2020.
  • One-time control for all permissions. The camera, the microphone and the location can be activated in a granular way with Android 11, but the system deserves that the rest of the accesses can also be configured that way by the user.

And you? What would you like to see on Android in 2021?

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The best Android news in 2020 (and 11 things we keep waiting for)

was originally published in

Xataka Android

Ivan Linares


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