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2016 in review: The year in Android

Michael Simon | Jan. 3, 2017
Virtual reality, Google's Pixel phones, exploding Note7s, and everything else that made 2016 a year to remember.

LG’s V20 was just one of several phones sporting dual cameras in 2016.

The purpose of the second lens varied, with LG using its system to take wider shots and others utilizing the second lens mainly to aid with depth perception, but the message was the same: There’s no need to buy an expensive DSLR to take professional looking photos. (We think a DSLR in the right hands is still miles better than any smartphone camera, but tell that to the phone marketing departments.) And the dual-camera movement doesn’t seem to be a phase. Rumor has it that Samsung’s Galaxy S8 will sport twin rear shooters as well, which should make the one of best smartphone cameras even better.

Modular phones emerge

Google might have canceled Project Ara this year, but the modular phone dream is far from over. In 2016 two modular concepts were brought to market, with varying results: LG released its G5 handset, which sported an array of slide-out “Friends” that could be added on to it, and Motorola dropped the Moto Z and its system of magnetic Mods.

phone with camera

The Moto Z launched with several mods, including a Hasselbad True Zoom lens.

While LG’s snap-on accessories failed to make much of an impact on consumers, the Moto Z proved that the modular concept actually can work. With a growing family of accessories—and many more planned for the coming year—Motorola may have come up with a viable concept for expanding the smartphone beyond its constrained proportions. Whether the concept expands to other phones remains to be seen, but as handset makers run up against the inevitable innovation wall, modular attachments could very well become the next big thing(s).

Looking ahead to 2017

So while Android's 2016 certainly had its ups and down, the year definitely closed on a high note. And the months ahead looks to continue the momentum as we wait to see what goodies Google has in store for us with new Pixels, Android Wear 2.0, and Android O. (Like perhaps a Nabisco tie-in with Oreo cookies?)

android with question2

What big things are in store for Android in 2017?

But even as Google will looks to strengthen its position with a tighter Assistant integration and a new pair of Nexus-style flagship smartwatches, in the near future all eyes will be on Samsung. After spending the last few months cleaning up the Note7 mess, the company will need to bring some serious firepower at its first Unpacked event of the new year, especially in the face of stiff competition from the OnePlus 4 and HTC 11.


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