Cast your mind back to late 2008, when the first Android-powered handset saw the light of day. Obama won his first Presidential election, Apple launched its App Store (the iPhone had appeared the year before), Google announced its own Chrome browser and we got our first look at the company’s new mobile OS on the T-Mobile G1.
The Android of 2013 is a world away from that 2008 version, where the Android Market was in its infancy, there were no native video playback capabilities and the G1 had no multi-touch support. But Google is going to have to keep innovating and improving its mobile OS to keep the lion’s share of the smartphone market.
We’ve taken a peek into the future to consider what Android might look like in the year 2020. With new Android monikers now appearing about once a year, its codename should start with an “R” – Rhubarb Pie, Rocky Road or Rice Pudding, perhaps? Or maybe even Rolos, given the tie-up deals Google is putting in place these days?
Here are the four key features we think could play the biggest part in Android’s ongoing evolution over the next seven years:
1. Maps in Android in 2020
Apple’s Maps app may not have set the world alight when it launched, but it’s here now (alongside Nokia’s offering), and that means Google needs to up its game to stay ahead. The 2013 Google Maps refresh brought with it a greater level of customisation based on your personal searches, and this will only increase in the future.
With Google Now and Google Latitude tracking your every move, you’ll see directions to your favourite pub appear on-screen every Friday lunchtime. If the pub in question has an Android-powered bar installed, you might even find your tipple of choice waiting for you when you arrive.
As for all of the services hanging off Maps, Google is already hiring out the Street View cameras and enabling you to peek inside buildings – you can expect Android 2020 to offer better imagery of most public buildings, as well as tappable info as you move around.
There might even be an option to enable Google to anonymously augment its Street View data with the snaps you take on your phone to provide an even more up-to-date view of the world.
2. Android messaging in 2020
Google has already made its intentions clear with the Hangouts upgrade we got at I/O this year. With Facebook, WhatsApp, FaceTime, Snapchat, Skype et al to battle against, there’s no doubt we’ll see Google push further into the universal messaging game, covering SMS, email, instant messaging and video calling with tools that are baked into Android.
You won’t have to have separate apps for each of these, as the UI will be unified in a way that makes it easy to seamlessly slip between each method of calling.
We might even get Google Voice in the UK by the time 2020 rolls around, though don’t hold your breath.
How far Google can go depends on the networks and its competitors in the field – it’s already launched an ultra-fast internet service in the US, so telecoms could be next. And the company has been sniffing around unused wireless spectrum frequencies, too.
Don’t be surprised to see free 5G video calling and texting between Android devices by 2020, with all of your conversations grouped by person rather than platform, and archived and searchable in Gmail.
Eric Schmidt has already predicted that every human will be online by 2020 (no doubt hoping that we’ll all have a Google+ page too), and the more people his company can help get connected the better for Google’s bottom line.
3. Android payments and security in 2020
Over the next few years our phones will become even more important for making payments, transferring money and verifying our identity (everything from getting through the door at work to logging into Facebook).
The Google Authenticator app of 2020 could work with your device’s NFC chip to automatically log you into Gmail when you sit down at your laptop, for example, or pay for your flight when you step on a plane. Apple has Passbook, and Google will want an equivalent in place too.
We’ve seen tattoos and pills shown off as possible authentication triggers of the future, and Android 2020 will play a big part in proving you are who you say you are, whether it’s at a coffee shop or Google I/O.
Basic face recognition is already available, but in the years to come it has the potential to get much more accurate. It might even be joined by fingerprint or retina scanning built into Android’s camera app, or at least part of the phone, now that Apple has shown that fingerprint scanning is a viable option with its new Touch ID technology.
4. Android hardware in 2020
Hardware innovations are going to play a big part in Android’s roadmap. Besides the obvious smaller, thinner, faster improvements for our phones, bendable screens should be in place in the near future – the likes of Samsung have the tech already in production, and Android will change to adapt itself through scrolling rivers of news, status updates and other notifications.
Ever-changing, ever-optimising displays will be the order of the day, and the batteries and mobile processors of 2020 should be able to keep up.
Google Glass has of course generated plenty of buzz this year, good and bad, as has the rumour of an Apple iWatch to compete with the Galaxy Gear. It looks like the wearable tech revolution is about to take off, and by the time 2020 rolls around this could mean miniature devices on our glasses, wrists and clothing, ready to capture every moment and record every movement.
You won’t need to take photos any more, since Google will simply pick out the best pictures from the unedited stream of the day’s events. Nor will you need to decide what to eat for dinner – Android 2020 will know what you’ve been doing today (and what you’re probably doing tonight), and can pick out the most suitable foods for you.
Android: the 2020 edition
The only certainty about Android’s future is that it has a fight on its hands to stay competitive. Apple’s new-look iOS 7 has given Google plenty to think about, not least with its tie-ins with Facebook, Twitter, Bing, Flickr and Vimeo.
Android’s continuing integration with Chrome and the desktop/laptop will make for an interesting story too – they’re both run by the same man, Sundar Pichai, remember – and perhaps Google’s biggest challenge will be to convince us that we can trust it with more and more information about where we are, who we communicate with and the way we live our lives.
Posted on 09 August 2013.
One of the big questions around the prospects for Windows 8.1 in the workplace is how well it will fit into the management of employees’ mobile devices. Many businesses are ready to go along with the trend towards ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD), and they will have to think seriously about how they can manage devices that run on the new operating system.
The core issues are how existing mobile device management (MDM) systems will be able to manage Windows 8.1, and what else can be done if you also have Windows Server 2012 RS, the accompanying server and cloud platform.
IT admins will probably be encouraged by the provision of a lot more management options within Windows 8.1 than Windows 8. Some need upcoming versions of Windows Server, but Microsoft is building key mobile device management standards into Windows 8.1 (including Windows RT 8.1 for mobile devices), so it should provide more control for any MDM system.
This includes those already widely used to manage smartphones and tablets, such as MobileIron, AirWatch or Microsoft’s own Intune service, but there will be an advantage with Windows 8.1.
Using such systems usually involves installing a management client on a device, and Windows RT devices will only work with Intune. But Microsoft is building an agent that supports the open OMA-DM standard and the Simple Certificate Enrolment Protocol (SCEP that Apple uses for iOS management). The agent will be within Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1, which will make it possible to manage the systems through the same software, and in many cases with the same policies.
This will include using the agent to change some settings in Windows, and although Microsoft hasn’t yet revealed which ones, it will be possible to distribute wireless and virtual private network settings, including the certificates needed for virtual private network connections. There will also be a function to run reports on which devices are connecting, and whether they have up-to-date anti-virus software and the latest Windows updates.
If a business has apps that it wants its employees to use, such as an expenses reporting tool, it will not have to go through the Windows Store but can sideload them into Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1 devices and send out any updates.
If it runs Active Directory it can use it to manage 8.1 systems at two levels: it’s possible to simply place a certificate on a device to control access to company resources; or allow users to register their device with Active Directory through the new Workplace Join feature in PC Settings. Workplace Join also works with iOS devices and will support Android in time.
The Web Application Proxy in Windows Server 2012 R2 can make file sharing on a server available over a secure HTTPS connection, so users can sync files through the Work Folders function to their devices and save them back to the server when they’re on the road. Admins will be able to back them up with the normal processes.
The main limitation of Work Folders is that everything has to be synced, rather than choosing which files to copy to a device as is possible with SkyDrive syncs. On a tablet that could take up a lot of space.
But there is a big positive in that, when anyone leaves the company or loses their device, it’s possible to wipe the synced files remotely – without having to wipe the whole system and their personal content – and to remove certificates, VPN profiles and apps.
Both Workplace Join and the Web Application Proxy require the use of Active Directory Federation Services, which is easier to work with in Windows Server 2012 R2. If a business makes use of two factor authentication, it can make employees use it every time they connect from outside the company network, or just the first time they register on Workplace Join to prove their device is trustworthy.
Unlike Active Directory, which makes it possible to apply group policy to control almost every setting on PCs owned by a company, Workplace Join doesn’t provide for the control of any settings. For that, users have to allow the PC Settings function to turn on the built-in MDM agent.
This is the same on iOS and makes Windows 8.1 devices much more like other smartphones and tablets widely used in BYOD.
Overall, IT admins will get more tools to control employees’ devices that use Microsoft’s operating system, and this will help it fit more comfortably into a BYOD environment.