Google: What you need to do in mobile in 2013

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.
Written by James Kendrick, Contributor
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.

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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.

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