Google: What you need to do in mobile in 2013

Google: What you need to do in mobile in 2013

Summary: The end of each year sees a rash of articles predicting what we will see in the year to follow. This is not one of those, it is recommendations to help Google firm its position in the mobile space in 2013.

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TOPICS: Google, Mobile OS
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Google mobile gear

The year drawing to a close has been quite active in the mobile technology space. I will not recap it, that's been done plenty of times in many places. Predictions of what we will see appearing on the market next year are just as plentiful so none of that here. What I will offer is a list of things I wish, even hope that we will see from Google in 2013.

See related: ZDNet's tech predictions for 2013

Android/ Chromebook/ Google Now

If I get a phone call asking for a meeting across town at a certain time, it should warn me if the distance between the existing meeting before or after this one makes it unlikely I can make it.

Google set the groundwork in 2012 for a big year in 2013 across its major mobile tech offerings. Android surged in popularity this year and will continue with big growth in 2013. Partnering with Samsung and Acer to bring cheap Chromebooks to market coupled with a major US ad campaign increased awareness of the Chrome OS with mainstream consumers.

I hope 2013 is the year that Google finally yanks control of Android updates from partners and gets the latest version on the majority of consumer products. Jelly Bean is far better than any previous version of Android and Google needs to get it on everything.

Google's letting partners screw up the Android update situation makes it clear its partnerships limit what Google can do about it. That makes the Nexus X product line mentioned below very important for Google and consumers.

See also:

Rumors have recently popped up that Google is going to use its stagnant Motorola Mobility group to produce a line of Nexus products next year. I really hope this comes to pass with Google controlling both hardware and software to make smartphones and tablets better than anything produced to date running Android.

This Nexus "X" line needs to push the envelope as far as hardware goes similar to what Microsoft did with the Surface tablet, but that's not enough. Google, don't overlook the importance of accessories for this internal Nexus line. Make sure smart accessories such as docks and cases are available for each product at launch. These are important to buyers and can not follow the products months later.

I want to see Google push the Chromebook in 2013 even more than it's done to date. Chrome OS has evolved nicely and that needs to continue. Google needs to keep making it more like a full OS and not just an extended Chrome browser and then show that in ad campaigns.

One thing I really want to see in 2013 for Chrome OS and the Chromebook is the ability to run Android apps. This could be done with an Android emulator of some kind embedded right in Chrome OS. This would be a strong move to merge Chrome OS and Android for the Chromebook. Google should be able to do this and I hope they do.

I would also like to see Google shake up the mobile space in 2013 with a quantum leap in the capabilities of Google Now. That's the Android app that offers helpful advice to users based on where they are and what they do, among other things.

I want Google to ratchet up how much it learns about each user's routine and expand the utility by suggesting additional helpful things than it does now based on that observation. A simple example would be noticing if you always turn off Bluetooth on your phone when you get home. Google Now could notice that and ask you if you want to always do that. Answer yes and it will always happen. Even better, Google Now should notice when users book a flight and offer to put the itinerary on the calendar.

This type of observation and assistance can turn a phone or tablet into a real personal assistant as I described in an article a while back, and Google Now is the platform for this.

See related: I am ready for a smartphone that "gets me"

Google may already be looking at these improvements but if not it should be. The improvements covered here could go a long way to further cement Google's position in the mobile space. They could also be used to start merging Chrome OS and Android into a tightly integrated offering encouraging buyer loyalty. The expanded Google Now mentioned could be carried to competing platforms if Google determines that would be in the company's best interest.

Topics: Google, Mobile OS

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28 comments
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  • Android emulator on Chrome

    Unlikely. I say what more likely is that Chrome apps will gain parity with Android Apps on Android. With direct access to the phone hardware features, similar to the integration that we will see in Mozilla OS.

    I expect Google main priority for Google Now in 2013 will be to roll it out to Google TV and Chrome browser and OS. An of cause I expect Google to act quite aggressively in trying to build it own, fully integrated selection of apps on iOS that will not only all talk and work together but will allow other apps to talk to them, freezing out Siri and Apple own Maps from Apple user data. Of cause this will likely trigger a response from Apple but the disastrous launched of Apples Maps have dented Apple capability to strike at Google apps Itunes for now, even when they do violate Apple app store rules.
    Knowles2
    • There's already one

      There's an x86 emulator for apps in the development package isn't there? Just copy in google...
      LarsDennert
  • Google Now is the Visible Tip of g+ Iceberg

    If Google News would notice that I prioritize news by date, rarely looking at day old stuff. That would help. Same for YouTube, Weather. All the personal assists can be devolved to Apps thru open APIs that tell developers 'Google wants to make all the World's Knowledge available' to users, in their lifetime, by not wasting their time.

    Android is not about pedagogy. Teaching children is not where the web is at. Andragogy, is about creating the environment for self teaching. Trusted social contacts are highly important to self learners.
    jnffarrell
  • Motorola Nexus?

    Motorola might get the chance to produce a Nexus handset, but it certainly won't produce a whole line of Nexus products. That would alienate Google's hardware partners.

    What Motorola could do, is set a good example by keeping all of its products as up to date as possible with OS releases. That would put pressure on other hardware vendors to follow suit. And as long as Motorola engineers don't have any inside line on OS updates that would confer an unfair advantage, then it would be seen as a positive push rather than an attempt to undermine competitors.
    dsf3g
    • Nope

      No one can not get privilege to Android because Open Source. Every OHA member gets access to source code under development but non-members gets the finalized release.

      what would be wrong is that OHA members (what develops Android) would suddenly write code only for Motorola hardware and that would never happend.

      It is many hard to knowledge that Open Source doesnt give anyone privilege over others but development and usage is equal between everyone.
      Fri13
  • Amalgamation

    I'd like to see Google come out with an amalgamation of Chrome OS and Android that runs all the same apps, not just emulated. It would be one step closer to a single device that docks. I hate having 4 devices (work and home laptop, ipad, phone). It would be awesome if i could just dock my phone into a laptop or tablet and have unified setings and apps. Perhaps a relationship with ubuntu/canonaical is the solution. This is my dream/ $.02 anyhow.
    ePoch270
    • already there

      My ASUS Transformer TF300 runs pretty much all of the same apps that my Nexus 7 runs, and most of those apps also run on my HTC Evo 4G.

      Honestly, I don't see what more I'd be getting from a Chromebook. the way I see it, Google should just continue to let Android sprout wings and fly. There's very little I can do on my Windows 7 machine that I cannot accomplish on my TF300 (I'm talking ordinary everyday stuff, not compiling Visual C code or editing feature length movies).
      dsf3g
    • nope

      Canonical has no change for that. Asus has already released such devices with Android. if you want Linux distribution, Android is many ways better than ubuntu for desktop and Ubuntu on tablet or any touch device is just idiocrazy.

      Asus has padphone and padtablet and transformer series. Wait until they join that with a TV and Display so you can just attach phone to display what has few USB ports for keyboard and mouse/touchpad.
      Fri13
      • Whatever it takes...

        I would like one device that is basically a smartphone and the portable processor for docking into a tablet and laptop or desktop for one unified UI/ UX. I don't really care if it's android/ Chrome OS/ Linux or a hybrid of all of them. I just hate setting up/ updating 4 different devices. Obviously some programs/ apps wouldn't work on every platform (i.e.- video editing on the phone). I spend half my day installing or updating. It's my dream, so it can be whatever I want.
        ePoch270
        • Been there, done that

          The Motorola Atrix did that but nobody bought them.
          JamesKendrick
          • Good product but no advertising

            More than just Atrix. I'm sitting here right now typing away on my Motorola Lapdock 500 using my Droid Razr. I really like this thing, especially since it's just "one device" as such. I think they just never advertised enough. Now I've read that since Motorola Mobility was bought by Google that they cut the ties to the Lapdock product line for all future devices. It's a shame. I figure Google wants people to buy tablets in addition to phones to satisfy their hardware partners? Or to satisfy companies like AT&T and Verizon who get to sign you up for much more expensive plan to "share data" between devices.
            bill_r1
        • already

          check out Asus padphone or Asus transformer. From phone to tablet and from tablet to laptop.

          If Asus would drive padphone one degree up, it would mean that Asus will release a 22" (etc) display what has slot for padphone and then 5 USB ports for keyboard and of course mouse. Then phone to load in display and simply have bluetooth keyboard trough phone bluetooth possibility as well.

          Android already has these in those what has MicroHDMI but rare people actually use those because majority doesnt even know that exist.
          Fri13
    • Unification?

      Everything should run but just that they are look pretty only. Why Google Map isn't real GPS yet? Even our US Postal Services can build integration of Google map for drive instructions, road merging, corner turns to the post office, schedule pickup, weighing, payments, shipments tracking, sellers ads, users comments, prices and manuals all into one modernized packages, why can't they? Google teams are over paid for selling on Wall St Hollywood only now. They are wasting our bandwidth of our Internet on politics.
      BeanCube
  • everything matures too fast

    It took Android about 3 years to become a fully matured "almost" flawless mobile OS. Both Android and iOS have reached a level of quality similar to Win7. Works perfectly and can hardly be improved. Just minor tweaks.

    I still believe that Android though will face the biggest problems with timely updates. Except for Google phones updates take months to be released if at all. But in the future exploits will become as popular as on the Windows platform making it necessary to react quickly with a fix.

    This is the ultimate Achilles heel of Android. Apple can do much much quicker (if they want).
    EnticingHavoc
  • Nah

    Samsung produces poor Nexus devices and Google needs to get away from them.

    As for the updates, 4.2.1 is flakey and I am seeing the benefit of letting 3rd parties refine it prior to release.

    As for Android on Chrome, Chrome Books with ARM should have no issue with the Dalvik Cache and standardizing the way APIs are called and used could make the two systems completely compatible.
    slickjim
  • the #1 thing Google needs to do with Android

    is to change how Android is installed. In windows or any Linux distro you pop in the disk/USB stick, boot up the device, and you can install that same image onto ANY hardware you want to. you may have to download some drivers for your specific hardware after you get the OS running, but the OS install will work out of the box on anything.

    Currently on Android each OEM makes their own version of android for each different handset. Then, if you want AOSP, or a ROM, a developer needs to hack it onto each device separately. That's a huge waste of time, a waste of resources, and is what causes fragmentation in Android.

    If you could make 1 android image for your ROM, and Google could make 1 image for AOSP, and anyone in the world could download that image, load it onto any device, and have it install Android, with the possible requirement of downloading a few drivers after that, there would be no fragmentation. everyone would always be on the latest android version because it wouldn't need to be hacked onto each device individually.

    This would also be a huge boon to developers, because they could just make 1 really amazing version of their ROM, and everyone could use it, instead of having to divide their efforts for porting their ROM to multiple devices.

    The current way of having to hack different versions of Android onto each device is insane.
    theoilman
    • that is because

      in pc's there is a core, and there are peripheral devices, and there are drivers that link the two. A pc can have a hard drive made by one company, and a monitor made by another, and provided you have the drivers, everything will work - more or less. In mobile, one company specs out everything that goes into a device, and there are really no peripherals. So everything gets lumped together, and every device gets its own tweaked version of an OS.

      I wonder if mobile windows devices will be any different.
      ForeverSPb
  • Not one quick solution to Android updates

    Carriers rule updates period. If Google leverages Motorola Mobility, it will only be with Verizon who virtually has a lock with Motorola's best phones. Google can drive its partners toward Windows, which it is already doing. Microsoft has the advantage over Chrome OS AND the advantage in the living room with XBox.
    Chrome OS is not compelling from a productivity perspective and still inferior to portability next to a tablet. I hope they give it more features or merge it with Android soon or it will just be regulated as a niche product.
    flyguy29
    • see my post above

      if updates are easy and in the hands of the users, carriers are out of the equation. obviously that means google needs to make the install process so easy a monkey could do it, but it shouldn't bee too hard to make a snazzy and easy to use recovery that anyone can use.
      theoilman
    • Re: Carriers rule updates period.

      I have had updates for all my Android devices, and the carrier I use had nothing to do with them.

      In most of the world, your choice of mobile devices is not dictated by your choice of carrier. Switching carriers is as easy as taking out one SIM card and putting in another.
      ldo17