Happy Android 2013

A year is a long time. 12 long months. 365 event-filled days. Interesting and newsworthy things are happening every day, sometimes multiple interesting things happen in the one day! How are you meant to keep track of them all? How can you possibly be expected to remember every piece of Android news from throughout the year? Don’t worry, Ausdroid can help! We’ve sifted through the action-packed year that was, and have hand-picked the finest, most interesting pieces of news for your perusal. We’ve captured all the highs, the lows, and the WTFs from the past 12 months and gathered them all here in one spot. So sit back and get ready for the roller-coaster that was 2013!

JANUARY

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The first month of 2013 started off full of promise. A new year, so many possibilities! What exciting new gadgets were in store? What technological breakthroughs would we witness? Anything was possible!

What wasn’t possible, however, was getting your hands on a Nexus 4. Despite going on sale on November 13, major shortages of the device meant that they were as rare as hens teeth. LG and Google clearly (deliberately?) underestimated demand for the newest Nexus device, which meant that the Christmas wishes of thousands of poor tech fans were still unfulfilled in 2013. Occasionally the Nexus 4 would show it’s head, only to disappear again a short while later. Eventually LG announced that they would be bringing the device to Australian retail stores in February, but it remained to be seen whether this would be enough to keep up with demand

Elsewhere, we got our first taste of the big new phones for the year. Sony got the ball rolling by announcing the Xperia Z, a 5-inch, 1080p phone that we quite liked, and which ended up doing pretty well for them and Sony committed to a sustained advertising campaign around the device that ran well into the second half of the year.

We started to hear rumours about brand new flagship devices for Samsung and HTC, but both companies remained tight-lipped about what they had in store for us. Finally, on January 30, HTC finally admitted that yes, they DID have something to announce, and that they would be doing it on February 19.

Meanwhile, similar things were happening in the tablet world too – Sony got in early with their announcement of the Xperia Tablet Z, while Samsung continued to just tease us with rumours.

In the world of Android-powered devices that aren’t phones or tablets, we saw NVidia announce Project Shield, a hand-held video games console. One of the first entries into what would eventually become quite a populated market, Project Shield ran Android 4.2.1 and gave users access to the Google Play store and NVidia’s own Tegra Zone store, and also allowed users to stream games from their home computers directly to the handheld console. We didn’t get our hands on it until October, but we definitely liked what we saw.

In local news, Vodafone announced that they would be retiring the Crazy John’s brand for good. Some stores were closed completely, while others were rebranded to Vodafone stores. Crazy John’s had been a mainstay of Australian telecommunication for a long time, having opened their first store way back in 1991, so it was sad to see them go.

Notable Reviews in January:
Panasonic FZ-A1 Toughpad
HTC One SV
Asus Padfone

FEBRUARY

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February finally brought a bit of relief for people who were trying to get their hands on the Nexus 4. Not only did we start seeing stock a bit more regularly on the Play Store, but Harvey Norman also started selling the device in their stores. For Nexus fans who like their devices a bit larger, the Nexus 10 went on sale at Kogan. In other Nexus news, an update to Android 4.2.2 started appearing on various Nexus devices, including Nexus 7, Nexus 10 and Galaxy Nexus.

February was the time that we first heard of a possible unification of all of Google’s messaging services. This was the first we heard of what would later become Google Hangouts.

We also started hearing rumours about Motorola’s next phone, specifically about how amazing it was going to be. In February it was still new and exciting! Of course, it ended up as the Moto X, disappointing anyone not living in the US.

Mobile World Congress was held in Barcelona at the end of February, and saw a number of new devices announced. We saw a new phone from Huawei, new tablets from Samsung and HP, and a couple of phone/tablet hybrids from Asus.

Arguably, though, February belonged to HTC. After much speculation, they finally made their new phone official, announcing the HTC One on Feb 19. It was pretty well received at the time, given that it was quite a bit more powerful than anything we’d seen before. We got our hands on it a few days later at the official Australian launch, and were very impressed with what we saw.

Notable Reviews in February:
HTC Butterfly
Huawei Ascend D1 Quad
Nexus 10
Sony Xperia Z

MARCH

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While February was HTC’s month, March belonged to Samsung. The rumours started surfacing early in the month, and intensified ahead of the March 14 launch. The rumours came in all shapes and sizes: There would be multiple colours, there would be eye movement tracking, the whole thing would be made of plastic, etc, etc. It was all worth it in the end though, cos the Galaxy S 4 was finally announced, and it was pretty darn good. The specs were pretty decent, even if some of the features seemed a little gimmicky (Group Play, anyone?). Our local carriers gave us no indication of when the device would be available, but they all assured us they would be stocking it.

In non-Samsung news, things were looking decidedly less rosy in HTC’s camp. First we heard that their new flagship the HTC One would be delayed by a couple of weeks. Then we discovered the reason for the delay: poor sales meant they were no longer a priority customer, so they were having trouble sourcing parts. This, coupled with other rumours of financial troubles, meant that HTC’s entire future could rest on the popularity of the One. No pressure or anything…

In local news, Aldi threw their hat into the MVNO ring with ALDImobile. They launched with reasonably competitive rates, but couldn’t compete with Kogan for price (although we all know how that turned out…)

March also signalled the end of an era, with Google announcing that they would be ‘retiring’ Google Reader in July. Many other services have scrambled to take it’s place, but none offer quite the functionality that Reader had. Farewell Google Reader, you’ll be missed.

Notable Reviews in March:
LG Optimus L9

Keep an eye out for the next part of our Year in Review series over the next couple of days!

What have been your highlights and lowlights of 2013? Let us know in the comments

  • JeniSkunk

    Thanks for this first part of the Year in Review, Joel.
    Looking forwards to reading the rest of this series.
    :)

  • disposedtrolley

    Nice recap. Good luck with the following parts Joel, and Merry Christmas to all!