Looking back at 2021.
Another year has passed, and we are over and ready to welcome the impact of the CES 2022 announcement into the new year. But before the end of the year, we decided to review some of the important moments shaping 2021 for our readers. Considering that Android Central published more than 3,000 news posts in 2021, covering various categories such as Android, Amazon, PlayStation, Oculus, etc., this is not an exhaustive list. But these are some of the most compelling topics we discussed throughout the year.
Galaxy Watch 4 and Wear OS 3
Google’s announcement of Wear OS 3 is a big deal, because it means that it finally has to do something with its wearable platform, and for a while it seems to have been almost abandoned. The company promises faster performance, higher efficiency, new application experience, and even integration with Fitbit. However, the biggest news is the launch of the first Wear OS 3 smart watch in cooperation with Samsung.
After years of Samsung’s more or less trying to do its own thing with Tizen, its relationship with Google has grown in 2021, which undoubtedly played a role in Samsung’s success.
Galaxy Watch 4 runs a version of Wear OS 3 with a UI Watch on top, which brings a similar look and feel to Samsung’s best Android phones. Many of our employees are full of praise for the speed and responsiveness of this watch, which is far from the previous Wear OS. Although it may not be suitable for everyone, the Galaxy Watch 4 has successfully pushed Wear OS to new heights, with an impressive 17% market share, following Apple’s Watch OS.
Although Wear OS 3 is not expected to appear on other smartwatches until sometime in 2022, Wear OS 3 has already begun to become a real competitor in the smartwatch market.
Samsung and its smart products
In addition to the Galaxy Watch 4 and its newly developed relationship with Google, this year is also an important year for Samsung. Thanks to the addition of the optional S Pen to the S21 Ultra, the Galaxy S21 series is very popular. This will be extended to Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3 later this year, which is one of Samsung’s best foldable phones to date. Together with Galaxy Z Flip 3, foldable products provide better durability, stronger construction, better hinge design and water resistance. Most importantly, Samsung introduced these phones at cheaper prices than their predecessors, and as foldable phones become more mainstream, they are cheaper.
In addition to Google’s Pixel phones, Samsung is also the first company to introduce stable Android 12 to its smartphones. In the year after this, monthly quick security updates are carried out, which usually appear on Galaxy phones before Pixels. Not only that, Samsung also set an example by announcing the extension of software support to up to four years of security updates and three years of major operating system upgrades.
And you can’t forget its excellent earplugs. Although it is a real earache for some people, it is one of the best wireless earplugs money can buy.
VR finally shines on Quest 2
No matter by any standard, the popularity of VR is extremely slow. Between cost and difficulty of use, most VR headsets are not built for ordinary consumers. But Oculus Quest 2 brings much-needed changes in both areas. It will be launched at the end of 2020 at a price of $299, and it only needs a headset and controller to run.
In fact, Quest 2 was so successful that its sales surpassed Microsoft’s latest Xbox and reached a fabulous 10 million sales within a year. This was a goal set by Zuckerberg some time ago, but it seems unrealistic until now. It is not far from the PS5. So far, the PS5 has sold more than 13 million units, making it the fastest-selling PlayStation game console ever.
Since the Christmas holiday, Meta has sold 1 ton of Quest 2, and some analysts even said that by the end of everything, its sales may exceed Nintendo 64. There is no doubt that this is due to the great game of Quest, or any recent updates made to improve the overall experience. It’s been a long time, but VR is finally here, and it also has its own console.
Pixel 6 and Android 12
When Google released the Android 12 update, it was seen as a big step forward for the platform. After the introduction of widgets on iOS, it allowed us to refocus on widgets, while the Material You design language puts a new focus on customization. In addition, there are a large number of privacy and security enhancements that allow consumers to better control the data they share. This is a big deal for a company that is often criticized for collecting too much data from consumers.
The launch of the Pixel 6 series made all this come to the surface. Like its software counterparts, Pixel 6 represents a major difference from its predecessors, and its new design provides premium gloss that previous models lacked. Specifications have also been improved, with high resolution, high refresh rate displays, improved dual and triple camera sensors, faster charging and more. Not to mention Google’s first internal SoC, Tensor, which provides support for everything and brings faster AI processing on the device for new features such as Magic Eraser.
- U.S. operators finally worked together to make RCS a thing by setting Google Messages as the default setting.
- Android applications will enter Windows 11 through the Amazon Appstore.
In other words, Pixel 6 is not all smooth sailing. Soon after the device arrived in the hands of consumers, reports of errors began to flood the forum. Although it is not uncommon for new smartphones to have one or two minor issues, the Pixel 6 series seems to be plagued by some bugs that did not affect the earlier Pixel models that were updated to Android 12. This prompted Google to release a large number of bug fixes in the December update, which unfortunately brought some new bugs. Most notably, many users who received the update are facing serious signal problems.
Pixel 6 is not the only phone that has encountered issues with Android 12. OnePlus launched its Android 12 version for the OnePlus 9 series, only to suspend it due to a large number of errors. Although it has restored the update with a large number of fixes, some errors still exist. Samsung has also encountered considerable trouble in updating its smartphone operating system, which makes people think that Android 12 may not be ready for prime time.
This text has been on hold for some time, but it is still shocking to see a major player withdraw after years of producing some of the most interesting Android phones. LG may not be able to compete with Samsung in terms of market appeal, but the company often undercuts some of the best Samsung phones with comparable specifications, features, and unique styles. Not only that, but LG is not afraid to become weird and try new shapes or design quirks. Of course, this led to some failed experiments, such as the modular construction of the LG G5 or the Z camera of the LG G8. However, LG has also started or promoted modern trends such as QHD displays, wider aspect ratios and multiple camera lenses.
Considering LG’s reluctance to develop true foldable or dual-screen phones, LG Wing, LG’s last phone, is an experiment in itself, which is quite appropriate. And, unfortunately, we will never come into contact with LG Rollable, this phone will lead the new rollable form factor.
Big technology companies can’t unite
There are countless lawsuits alleging anti-competitive behavior, especially in Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store. Not only that, but the impact of the Meta and Amazon outages proved our reliance on the cloud and emphasized how regulators and large technology companies can do better to ensure that a single outage does not disrupt so much of the Internet.
Of course, we must not forget T-Mobile’s large-scale data breach, which exposed millions of customers.
The semiconductor shortage is no secret. This is the source of supply chain issues that affect many different industries, from cars to games, and of course mobile. The shortage has made many game consoles out of reach, but it has also caused cancellations and delays by smartphone OEMs.
For example, Samsung decided to abandon the launch of the new Galaxy Note this year and instead focus on foldable phones. Given that there are rumors that Samsung will fold the Note into the Galaxy S series, this makes sense, mainly because it allows Samsung to kill two birds with one stone.
However, the highly anticipated Galaxy S21 FE has also been postponed because it was initially expected to be launched in the second half of 2021. It now appears that it will be available in the first quarter of 2022, just before Samsung’s next flagship.
This year, the release of Pixel 5a is also very limited, because Google’s sales are only concentrated in two markets.
Although Motorola released a large number of smartphones this year, the new Motorola Razr is not among them, as the company reportedly wants to focus on improving its design. Although there is no mention of chip shortages, Motorola may have considered this in its decision.
- Motorola did not actually make much progress this year. Although LG almost handed over the baton to it, its 2021 products were basically not impressive.
- Matter’s smart home plan has been postponed, which means that we may not see Matter-certified products until the second half of 2022.
- PS5 is still very popular, but it is still difficult to buy. Fortunately, you can follow our PS5 replenishment, and we will pay close attention to retailers that will sell PS5 every week.