By Jason Venter

With the next year almost upon us, we thought it would be a good time to look back on 2012 and remember the Android-related stories that impacted us most. This was a great year for the platform, which saw dramatic expansion in market share and some exciting new hardware. Here are our picks for the year’s biggest stories.


The Launch of the Nexus 7

The Nexus 7 launched to solid reviews throughout the industry and was developed in collaboration between Google and Asus. Powered by an NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core chip and 1GB of RAM, the device was the first to ship with Android 4.1, Jelly Bean, and it became quite the hot seller. Competing products saw price drops as their manufacturers worked to retain consumer interest, while critics praised the Nexus 7 because it “feels like something that could sell for much more” (Tim Stevens of Engadget). No device is perfect, but it was clear that the Nexus 7 had made one of the most compelling arguments yet in favor of the Android platform.

 

Android Takes Over Majority of Mobile Market Share

Going into 2012, it seemed like everyone wanted an iPhone. However, much of that sector’s success throughout the year can instead be attributed to the accelerated growth of Android smartphone sales. In Q3 of 2012, iOS shipped a total of 26.9 million smartphones, an impressive number until you learn that 136 million Android units headed out to consumers during the same time period (according to a report by IDC). Considering the number of new devices arriving all the time, the divide could be even more significant.

 

Google Reveals its Futuristic Android-Powered Eyewear, 'Project Glass'

People interact with the Android operating system on tablets and smartphones, but 2012 saw Google display a potential new use: augmented reality. Unveiled as part of a presentation at Google I/O on June 27, 2012, Project Glass puts the familiar operating system in sleek glasses. Consumers will be able to benefit from services such as maps, GPS, and calendars without the need to stop and pull out smartphones or day planners. Though the hardware isn’t expected to be available to consumers anytime soon, 2012 represented the beginning to something that could substantially impact our lives in years to come.

 

OUYA Android Game Console Nets $8.5 Million on Kickstarter

2012 provided developers with crowd funding opportunities on the increasingly popular Kickstarter site, which launched a variety of games and unique hardware devices. One of the biggest success stories was the OUYA console, which is made possible by the Android operating system and a Tegra3 quad-core processor. More than 63,000 intrigued consumers pledged a total of $8,596,474 as a way of showing their confidence in a more open gaming console, which was much more than the $950,000 goal that the product’s manufacturers initially had in mind. Development units have just recently begun shipping, and the proper console should reach consumers this March.

 

Apple v. Samsung Ruling

Although Samsung has long produced components for Apple devices, relations between the companies are not entirely positive. Tensions were made clear when a jury ordered Samsung to pay Apple $1.05 billion. That was the outcome of a lawsuit that was first filed in April of 2011, wherein Apple demanded $2.5 billion as it accused Samsung of copying its designs. The partial victory for Apple is widely viewed as a blow not only to Samsung, Apple’s most dominant hardware competition, but also to the Android operating system. Appeals are likely to keep the matter in courts for a long time to come, but the 2012 installment of the epic confrontation between the two giant companies is certain to remain one of the most interesting.