Since the 2016 Mobile World Congress is upon us, I thought it would be a good time to put it in the context of all the major events of the ‘year according to Android’. If you’ve been an Android enthusiast for any significant length of time the annual media frenzies surrounding major conferences and manufacturer press events may tend to blend together, or perhaps you pay attention to only one or two major events each year. For example, many Samsung enthusiasts may only concerned with the annual Galaxy S announcement in the early part of the year, or perhaps with the late-summer/early fall announcement of the latest Galaxy Note. On the other hand, if you’re new to Android and want to know all the big media events to look forward to each year, you’ve come to the right place. In this article you’ll see a general timeframe for each major annual event and how it fits into the greater scheme of Android.
The Consumer Electronics Show happens every January in Las Vegas, and of course embraces far more than the Android platform. Nevertheless, mobile technology has become arguably the most lucrative and exciting aspect of consumer electronics, and Android is the most widely-used mobile platform in the world by a huge margin. Consequently, Android will play a starring role in every CES in the foreseeable future.
When manufacturers want to trot out cutting-edge technologies you’ll likely first see them teased at CES. For example, although you’ve only recently begun to see phones such as the Galaxy S Edge and the LG G Flex flaunting flexible AMOLED displays, Samsung’s take on the the technology was showcased at CES as far back as January 2013. You’ll also see a few manufacturers announce new tablets, phones or even watches to get a jump on the competition.
February/March: Mobile World Congress
Since Apple likes to keep the limelight all to themselves, Android is the center of attention at the annual MWC. Of course you’ll also see carriers trot out their latest technological advances, and a significant portion this conference is devoted to discussing issues that affect the mobile industry as a whole. This is also the time of year Samsung, Sony, LG and HTC and many other manufacturers tend to announce their flagship devices for the year. Since Samsung has the largest share of the Android market, this is the biggest event of the year for many Android enthusiasts.
May/June: Google I/O
In past years, Google’s annual I/O conference was a major media draw because the Mountain View company would announce the next version of Android and give out new Nexus tablets, set-top boxes and other generous bits of Android and Chrome OS swag (such as the very high-end, very expensive Chromebook Pixel). In 2013, Google decided it was time for I/O to return to its roots and shift the focus back to encouraging and helping developers to embrace the Android and Chrome OS platforms. Consequently no new Android version was announced and no major new hardware was released. What we did get, however, was a slew of Google app updates embracing the still-relatively-new Holo paradigm in Android. In 2014 and 2015, Google returned to its trend of announcing major new Android versions and released developer preview factory images for recent Nexus devices. This allowed app developers and OEMs to get a jump on the newest generation of Google’s platform before final public release later in the year.
August/September: IFA Berlin
Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin (the “Berlin Radio Show” according to Wikipedia) is basically a late-summer showcase of consumer electronics, like a more global big brother to CES. It’s also when Samsung tends to announce its latest Galaxy Note flagship (and last year Samsung threw in a larger sibling to the Galaxy S6 Edge for good measure). Other Android OEMs have used this conference to announce new hardware, but the hype usually doesn’t quite match the crescendo of the Mobile World Congress of the previous half-year. You might also see Motorola’s latest Droid lineup and Moto X/G releases announced around this time of year if not at the conference itself.
Let’s also not forget that Apple releases their new iPhones around this time as well, for our iOS friends.
October: The Big Android BBQ
You’ll rarely (if ever) see a major new gadget get released at this event, but if you want to meet other Android enthusiasts, high-profile developers, popular bloggers and other heavy-hitters in a more relaxed, more social setting, this is usually your best chance to do so. Oh, and this time you can actually eat the tasty treats associated with Android!
October/November: Nexus announcement, next Android version gets final release
In recent years Google has tended to host a somewhat minor event to announce the latest Nexus release along with the final public release of its latest major Android update. In 2013, Google actually decided to launch Android 4.0 KitKat along with the Nexus 5 on October 31, upstaging Halloween in the minds of many (after all, who wouldn’t prefer a new Android version to play with over strangers in cheap costumes pounding on your door demanding free candy?). While there’s usually no big, elaborate gala on the scale of the aforementioned industry conferences, this is probably the biggest event of the year for purists who prefer stock Android over OEM skins such as Sense and TouchWiz. Oh, and it’s also the biggest day for many people who like to tinker with their Android gadgets by unlocking the bootloader and installing custom firmware.
The ‘year according to Android’ at a glance
- CES showcases cutting-edge mobile technologies and some OEMs get a jump on the competition by announcing new Android gadgets.
- The Mobile World Congress, probably the biggest event of the year for Android OEMs including Samsung, LG, HTC and Sony among others – you’ll first see the latest Galaxy S and LG G phone officially unveiled here.
- Google I/O, where we learn what the next major Android version will bring and when late-model Nexus owners can take the corresponding Developer Preview for a spin. Oh, and it’s primarily about the developers. Of course.
- IFA Berlin, the much bigger brother of CES, and when you’ll likely see Samsung take the wraps off its latest Galaxy Note model. This is also around the time you’ll see Motorola’s latest models.
- The Big Android BBQ, when those of you who can make the trip to north Texas can meet a who’s-who in the Android world in a more-or-less social setting.
- Google usually unwraps its latest Nexus lineup and releases the final code for the latest major Android revision for mass-consumption just in time for the holiday shopping season. Hopefully the OEM flagship you bought will get the update before the following Google I/O.