Android 2019 primer: 10 bits of telling analysis to mull over

'Tis the season for looking back — and looking ahead.

Android 2018 Primer
JR Raphael
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When it comes to mobile technology, trends mean so much more than any single event.

That's a notion we see reinforced time and time again here in the land o' Android — and that's why so much of our focus in this little corner of the internub is on the bigger-picture view of what's going on with Google. By looking at those broader trends, we can get a sense of how the company's strategies are shifting and what those changes suggest about the future of Android and other mobile tech efforts.

We had no shortage of such matters to consider in 2018 — and some of the trends we've observed over these past 12 months will almost certainly inform the patterns we'll see over the course of the coming year.

So take a few minutes now, in this rare start-of-year quiet, to revisit these important bits of analysis. They'll give you valuable context about where Android and Google in general are going and what broad themes are bound to dominate the discussion in 2019.

Let's mull, shall we?

On ecosystems and Google's grander ambitions

Welcome to the post-OS era

It's the virtual assistant's world now. The operating system is just living in it. This trend really took off over the course of 2018, and it's something that's practically guaranteed to guide Google's efforts in 2019 as well.

Android is becoming an ecosystem without borders

On a semi-related note: With Microsoft poised to bring Android app access to Windows devices, the reach of Google's ecosystem is about to reach some wild new levels.

Fuchsia and the future of Android

Google's mysterious new operating system is assumed to be a replacement for Android and Chrome OS — but what if the situation isn't actually so simple?

With the Pixel 3, Google is playing its own game

The latest Pixel launch makes one thing clear: Google's strategy for competing with other smartphone manufacturers is to play a completely different game. And all signs suggest that game is just getting started.

On upgrades and the evolving state of Android

Android and the shifting simplicity spectrum

Google's approach to Android has slowly but surely been shifting over the years — and an equal but opposite force has been pushing back at the same time. So what's next?

Will Android Pie lead to faster upgrades? 3 words to remember

One of 2018's most prominent narratives was how Android Pie would mark the end of slow operating system upgrades. As we're already starting to see play out right now, though, that saga has more layers than most casual observers seem to realize.

On Google's coming challenges

Google is often its own worst enemy

From Google Now to its notification-centric smartwatch vision, it's astonishing how willing Google is to ditch great ideas instead of nurturing them to maturity. And 2018 was one of the harshest reminders of that reality.

The EU's Android antitrust ruling overlooks 3 critical points

European regulators are fining Google $5 billion and demanding changes to the way it manages Android — but their assessment doesn't entirely add up. Some important logic surrounding a story we're sure to see develop further in the coming months.

On broader smartphone trends

5 reasons to remain skeptical about 5G in 2019

Don't buy into the hype: The 5G revolution isn't ready yet. Here are five big reasons to take everything you're about to hear with a healthy grain of salt.

Get ready for the next silly smartphone superlative

From megapixels to pixel density and millimeters to bezels, phone makers have a history of focusing on superficial metrics to get your attention. And this next one is especially silly.

Bonus: A fond farewell to some dear old friends

The end of an era for Google hardware

This past year, we bid adieu to a pair of legendary Google device lines that played pivotal roles in shaping Android, Chrome OS, and the company's overall trajectory. As we say so long to 2018, let us take a moment to honor and remember these path-paving pioneers.

Rest assured: The areas outlined above are all themes we'll be talking about much more in the months ahead. So mull away, then shut down that beautiful brain of yours and enjoy a little more well-deserved R&R (red wine and rice pudding, obviously). We'll pick up here soon, and this primer will have your noggin in the perfect place for the next phase of our ever-progressing discussion.

A very happy New Year to you, my fine and fetching friend. 2019, here we come!

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