Android as a platform is better than ever, but apps still have a ways to go.
Say what you will about 2018. I know a lot of my friends and colleagues like to view it as some kind of intangible monster that's left nothing but wreckage in its path, but if you ask me, this has been a damn good year, at least as far as Android is concerned.
A few years back, it felt like every phone review from every tech blog (present company included) ended with the same allusions of "it's fine, but it'd be way better with stock Android," or "you should just buy a Nexus/Pixel." It feels like those days are behind us — which isn't to say that "stock Android" (however you still define that) and the Pixel line aren't still great; I use a Pixel 3 every day and couldn't be much happier with it. Just that nearly everything else is pretty great now, too.
Almost every Android manufacturer puts out good software these days.
With a few exceptions (I'm looking at
Speaking of OS updates, Android OEMs still take too long to roll them out, but
So Android phones are almost universally good these days. Great! There's just one problem remaining: for as much as Android has improved as a platform over the last year, its apps haven't really followed suit. I'm not talking about first-party apps developed by Google or your phone's manufacturer. In a lot of cases, third-party apps from even major companies are still severely lacking on Android compared to their iOS counterparts.
Look at Instagram. Maybe I'm just hyper-aware of the feature gap because I handle
The Grailed app is a disaster that deserves to be yeeted into a hole — how do you do, fellow kids?
Then there are apps from smaller companies like
That's a bit of a niche example, I know, but my point is that the longstanding cliche of iOS apps being better than their Android counterparts still very much holds true, whether we like it or not. I don't know that there's really a solution here; even with a higher market share, the sheer number of different devices just makes Android harder to support than iOS. But I'm always hopeful that the app situation will improve with time. We're getting there.
All in all, I think Android made a lot of great strides this year. Pie itself isn't radically different than Oreo before it, but OEMs have gotten dramatically better at making their own software, and the groundwork is laid out for updates to be at least a little bit more timely. I'd call 2018 a resounding success, even if there were a few