10 Android highlights from 2019

Let’s look at some of the highlights for the Android platform in 2019, including Android 10, Google Assistant, security patches, and more.

Image: Jason Cipriani / CNET

2019 was not a perfect year for Android, but it was certainly a good year. There were functions and devices that made the experience richer, more reliable, safer and generally user-friendly. Some of these highlights had a direct impact on end users, while others tended to the indirect category.

Anyway, there was a lot to be found in 2019 to bring an exciting “huzzah” to the Android community. Let’s go into the top 10 of Android.

SEE: Android gift guide: the best gifts in 2019 (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

1. Google Pixel 4 camera

Although the
Pixel 4
phone, taken as a whole, comes out as a low point of the year (too expensive, terrible battery life, insufficient RAM or storage), a function to lift eyebrows in a good way is the camera. Since the Pixel 3 has arrived, Google’s smartphones claim the title of ‘best in show’ for telephone cameras, and the Pixel 4’s view of the camera did not disappoint. In fact, this specific function of the device has reset the standard according to which all telephone cameras are assessed. My guess is that the next phone that will use this title is the Pixel 5. Hopefully the iteration of the rule will make up for the mistakes that Google has made with the Pixel 4.

2. Android 10

I have been using Android since version 1.5, so I have witnessed almost every iteration of the platform from the start. Without hesitation I can say that Android 10 is the best improvement of the platform that has been released. Of course, Google has abolished the cute names for its operating system, but it received a lot of praise from hardcore users. At every conceivable level, Android 10 was a step ahead of Android 9 – which says a lot because Android 9 was fantastic. This iteration of Google’s mobile operating system performs faster, smoother and more reliable than any release to date. It is a pity that this release has not found its way to more devices and perhaps not before the end of the year. For those who have experienced Android 10, you understand why this release is considered a highlight among the highlights.

3. Google Assistant

2019 is the year in which artificial intelligence (AI) has been proven to be at the core of everything related to Android, including: email, messages, Google Assistant, photos, Google Lens, the Camera app, the live subtitle feature on the Pixel 4 telephones, and so on. Artificial intelligence makes smart answers possible in various communication apps; it helps to improve battery life; it makes your photos better and more.

4. Google Pixel 3a

While the Pixel 4 failed as an overpriced flagship with under-performance, the Pixel 3a and 3a XL proved that Google can make an over-performing, budget-friendly smartphone. Google should have taken the praise of the Pixel 3a to heart when he made the Pixel 4. Yes, the standard (non-a) Pixel phones are Google’s flagships and are often used to prove what can be done, but when you can sell a mid-range phone that performs above its station and then turns around and sell a high end device that performs under its station, there are lessons to be learned. Bottom line: the Pixel 3a is an excellent value, and anyone who wants to jump aboard the Pixel Express can do worse.

5. Dark mode

From the office of ‘the squeaky wheel’ comes the function that more users have requested from Google: the dark mode. Although I’m not a fan myself, there are a large number of Android fans begging Google to unleash this specific feature – and it did. The dark mode is not only to prevent eye strain when viewing Android in dark environments – it can also help save the battery. This feature is a dual miracle that should have been released long ago.

6. Battery and memory management

After upgrading from Android 9 to 10 on a Pixel 3, I experienced a significant improvement in both battery and memory management. My device can now last almost 24 hours (when it is not used heavily) and performs as if it had somehow gained more memory without my knowledge. That’s how noticeable the improvements are in Android 10. So anyone who suffered from poor battery life and memory management in 2018 could blow a big sigh of relief this year – as long as your device had upgraded to Android 10.

7. Security patches

Google has finally nailed the Android security patches. In 2018, the release of Android patches seemed to be a side issue. I would see devices with patches that are two to three months behind – not like that in 2019. The Android Security Patch feature has become a well-oiled machine. This could not have come at a better time with the constant increase in malware raining down on Android.

8. Much improved sharing menu

Let’s face it – until 2019 (and Android 10), the Android sharing menu was a wreck. It was slow, unreliable and tended to simply not know what you used the most. Fortunately, Android 10 – and it’s incredible AI – solved everything that saved the sharing menu. If you are going to share something now, that menu will open quickly and it has a creepy understanding of what you use the most. The only way that Google could improve the Sharing menu is by making it editable.

9. Gesture navigation

I know that not everyone is a fan of the gesture-based navigation of Android 10, but give it plenty of time and you’ll find that navigating the platform becomes much more efficient. The developers have masterfully created an intuitive interface that is no longer dependent on the buttons on the back. Once you have mastered sweeping, you will not go back. In fact, every time I grab an Android device that doesn’t have gesture-based navigation, I feel like I’ve been teleported to the past, where a real UX design decision was awkward.

10. Private DNS

Google has finally made Private DNS an option in Android. Why is this important? In short, privacy. Private DNS is a more user-friendly term for DNS via TLS. It means that Android can now use a security protocol to encrypt and package Domain Name System questions and answers via the Transport Layer Security protocol. In plain English: when you use an application that requires DNS, this is done via an encrypted protocol, which means that these questions are more secure. In other words, it makes it harder for everyone to snoop around or use man-in-the-middle attacks to spy on you. This was a big step forward for Android security.

And there you have it – 10 Android highlights from 2019. It was a good year for the Google platform. Hopefully Google builds on these successes to make 2020 even better.

Mobile Enterprise newsletter

BYOD, wearables, IoT, mobile security, remote support and the latest phones, tablets and apps that IT professionals need to know are some of the topics that we will cover.
Delivered on Tuesday and Friday

Register today

Also see