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Forget Apple. Forget iOS. Forget Tim Cook. Don’t fall for the marketing ploys. Don’t listen to the fanboy platitudes.

In 2017, there’s only one mobile operating system that’s innovating, growing, and developing: Android.

This assertion isn’t based on personal preferences or online rumors. It’s not borne out of a dislike for Apple or a loathing of iOS. It’s grounded in cold, hard facts.

Don’t believe me? Keep reading to find out why 2017 is the year of Android.

App Stores Projections

Technology lives or dies by its popularity. There’s a reason VHS beat Betamax in the first battle for your living room, and Internet Explorer smashed Netscape Navigator into the trashcan of history: user numbers.

And right now, the various projections don’t make happy reading for Apple and iOS.

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In late-2016, App Annie released its annual report. It found that over the course of the previous 12 months, global app downloads had risen by 15 percent, time spent using apps had increased by 25 percent, and money paid to developers had grown by 40 percent. The report suggested users in China and other emerging markets fueled a significant part of the growth.

And which operating system is most popular in China? It’s Android, by miles. The most recent figures from Statista show Android boasts a mammoth 74.44 percent market share, compared to iOS’s 24.74 percent.

china android share

Worryingly for Apple, the percentages have barely moved in the last four years. If anything, Android is the operating system that’s been slowly stealing users away from Windows Mobile and other defunct platforms.

It’s the same story in countries like Brazil, Mexico, Turkey, and Indonesia. They’re the places that’ll be driving app store growth in the next decade — markets in Europe and the United States have almost reached saturation point.

The Future

So what does the future look like? App Annie says the number of handsets will grow from 2.6 billion in 2015 to 6.2 billion in 2020, and the Play Store will be the clear beneficiary. Projections show the growth of Google’s store will be four times stronger than the growth of Apple’s store.

It also predicts that by early 2018, the combined app revenue of the Google Play Store and other Android stores such as Amazon Appstore Google Play vs. Amazon Appstore: Which Is Better? Google Play vs. Amazon Appstore: Which Is Better? The Google Play Store isn't your only option when it comes to downloading apps -- should you give the Amazon Appstore a try? Read More will surpass Apple’s App Store revenues. Most estimates think the changeover will happen in late-2017.

Bottom line: There’s only so long that developers will maintain their iOS-first approach iPad and iPhone vs. Android: What's Best for Mobile Games? iPad and iPhone vs. Android: What's Best for Mobile Games? Android and iOS offer two different experiences in every facet. But is an iPhone better than a Pixel for mobile gaming? Let's find out. Read More . Like any business, they’ll follow the money.

Innovation

When was the last time Apple did something truly innovative with iOS? In fact, when was the last time the operating system changed in any seriously discernible way for end users?

Apple released iOS 10 in 2016 iOS 10 Is Here! Why You Should Upgrade Right Now iOS 10 Is Here! Why You Should Upgrade Right Now Apple's tenth revision of its mobile operating system is here. This is how to upgrade right now for free. Read More . The headline new features were a press-to-unlock home screen and mainly cosmetic app updates. The visuals of the platform have barely changed since 2007’s original iPhone.

ios 1 through ios 10

Meanwhile, in the software department, Android has improved by leaps and bounds. Different manufacturer versions of Android now boast fantastic features Android Skins Explained: How Do Hardware Makers Change Stock Android? Android Skins Explained: How Do Hardware Makers Change Stock Android? Hardware makers like to take Android and morph it into something that is entirely their own, but is this a good or a bad thing? Take a look and compare these different Android skins. Read More that aren’t present in iOS.

To be fair, though, outside of the top couple of premium Android handsets, iPhones do have better hardware. Apple is continually improving there, and the amount of technology they manage to cram into the ultra-slim iPhones never ceases to amaze me.

An Operating System for Life?

But what’s going on outside of the smartphone sector? Right now, Apple’s newest iPhone 7 can’t even connect to its top-of-the-line MacBook Pro without an assortment of dongles and adaptors.

Let’s cast the net even wider. What other projects is Google working on?

Well, there’s self-driving cars How Close Are We to Self-Driving Cars Being Available? How Close Are We to Self-Driving Cars Being Available? Read More , global internet coverage, Google Glass Is Google Glass the Best Thing Since Sliced Bread? [MUO Debates] Is Google Glass the Best Thing Since Sliced Bread? [MUO Debates] Join us as Justin and Matt face off in a debate about whether or not Google Glass is the next big thing that's going to transform the world of technology and mobile applications. Read More , Nest, delivery drones, medical devices, smart contact lenses, Android Auto Android Auto Is Now Available for Everyone: What Can It Do? Android Auto Is Now Available for Everyone: What Can It Do? Android Auto is Google's special app for using your phone in the car, and it's now available on every phone. Here's what you can do with it, and how to set it up. Read More , Google Fiber Google's Most Interesting: Apps, Projects, and Services You Must Know About Google's Most Interesting: Apps, Projects, and Services You Must Know About Google always has dozens of projects going at any given time and it can be hard to keep track of them all. Here are the most interesting ones that you should be aware of. Read More , virtual reality, and more. And which operating system is going to underpin those cars, futuristic devices, and other ambitious projects? It’s certainly not going to be iOS.

Privately, Google must think it’s won the smartphone war. It boasts an insurmountable 81.7 percent market share globally. It’s moving onto bigger things.

And Apple? It spent its time peddling mostly unwanted smartwatches Apple Watch Sales Might Have Dropped, But It’s Far From a Flop Apple Watch Sales Might Have Dropped, But It’s Far From a Flop We won't know the true number of sales until Apple releases official data in the Fall, but even if recent poor sales figures are correct; the Apple Watch is far from a flop. Read More and inventing pencils. Google’s been working on its self-driving car since 2009. Apple only got its Californian “learners license” in early 2017.

Sarcasm aside, it’s clear Google has big plans for both itself and its mobile platform. The projects I mentioned above might be in the long-term plans, but Android could easily become an “operating system for life” which underpins them all.

Short-Term Success

There are three areas where Android is growing outside the smartphone sector right now.

ChromeOS

ChromeOS has frightened Microsoft and Apple. It’s success and rate of growth is astounding, especially in the education sector where Apple once reigned supreme.

And in early 2017, the operating system got even better 7 Features Your Next Chromebook Must Have 7 Features Your Next Chromebook Must Have Chromebooks are becoming increasingly popular. But if you're about to hit the shops and buy your own, check these features your next Chromebook must have before you part with any money. Read More : Android apps finally became available on the platform. The Samsung Chromebook Pro kicked off the revolution, but on its website, Google has listed more than 80 existing laptop models that will become Play Store-compatible over the coming months.

chrome os

By the middle of this year, every new Chromebook will be Android-enabled. Given Chromebooks outsold Macs One Million Reasons to Buy a Chromebook, Chromebooks Outsell Macs... [Tech News Digest] One Million Reasons to Buy a Chromebook, Chromebooks Outsell Macs... [Tech News Digest] Google is bringing Android apps to Chrome OS, Chromebooks outsell Macs in the U.S., Gran Turismo Sport has a release date, help Google name Android N, and watch a nightmarish vision of our future. Read More in the United States for the first time in May 2016, there’s an enormous user base that’ll soon automatically be part of the Android ecosystem.

Remix OS

Google hasn’t developed Remix OS itself, but nevertheless, it does represent a giant leap for the company.

Remix OS is a free operating system Run Android Apps on Windows With Remix OS Player Run Android Apps on Windows With Remix OS Player Want to run Android apps on Windows? Meet Remix OS Player, a virtualized desktop version of Android that runs almost any Android app. Read More that runs on any PC with x86 or ARM architecture. It’s based entirely on an x86 port of the Android operating system and means users can install any Android app on their computer.

remix os

There are versions available for both Windows and Mac. It means even people who use a Mac for professional purposes can still have access to the Google Play Store on their machine. Unlike Chromebooks, which can run Linux How to Install Linux on a Chromebook How to Install Linux on a Chromebook Do you need Skype on your Chromebook? Do you miss not having access to games through Steam? Are you pining to use VLC Media Player? Then start using Linux on your Chromebook. Read More but struggle under the weight of Windows, users can dual-boot the two systems and easily switch between them.

At the time of writing, there is no equivalent for Apple. It’s not surprising: Apple is notoriously stubborn about its “walled garden” approach. It’s an approach that’s served the company well through the formative years of mobile technology, but at what point does it start becoming a hindrance rather than a help?

Smart TVs

Are you in the market for a new television Is a Smart TV Worth It in 2017? 6 Things to Check Before You Buy Is a Smart TV Worth It in 2017? 6 Things to Check Before You Buy These days, almost every TV is "smart" in some capacity, but there are several important features to look out for! Here's why 2017 is the best year yet for purchasing a smart TV. Read More ? If you are, there’s a good chance you’ll buy a model from either Sony, Sharp, or Philips. Between them, the three giants accounted for more than 35 percent of TV sales in Europe and North America in 2016.

But what do the three manufacturers all have in common? They all use the Android TV operating system What Is Android TV, and Why Was Google TV Killed? What Is Android TV, and Why Was Google TV Killed? Android TV is replacing the now-five-year-old Google TV. And it's not just an update -- it's a complete remake. Read More . That means all users get access to the Google Play Store, have access to native Chromecast technology, and can use Google Assistant.

It’s yet another avenue in which Android will be picking up users, often without them even being aware.

Of course, Apple offers Apple TV devices. But a report from eMarketer provides yet more worrying news for the company. It says the devices now control just 11.9 percent of the connected TV market, down from 13.5 percent 12 months ago. Chromecast boasts 19.9 percent (up 1.5 percent) and Roku has 18.2 (up 3 percent).

Fuchsia

Right now, Google’s various operating systems are still fragmented: Android, Android TV, Chromecast, ChromeOS, and so on. It’s a problem Microsoft has also struggled with as it’s attempted to expand Windows for the 21st century.

In this regard, Apple has been the winner in the last decade. The company’s marketing team have religiously stuck to “i[Device]” branding, and the OSX and iOS platforms have been clearly designated as “for desktop” and “for mobile.”

But the tide is turning. We’re at a crossroads. It’s no longer only about desktop and mobile — it’s about everything.

Once again, Google appears to be one step ahead of the game. It’s developing an entirely new operating system: Project Fuchsia.

We don’t know much about the system at the moment. All we’ve seen is some code on GitHub from August 2016. However, clues in the code suggest something grand is coming. Some experts have said it looks like the OS will be able to run on everything from self-driving cars to traffic lights — with smartphones, tablets, and PCs very much included.

Is Google going to replace Android? Is Fuchsia the operating system for life I referred to earlier? It’s very possible. If the rumors are true, you need to get onto the Android operating system now. When you’re eventually upgraded to Fuchsia, you’ll realize it was one of the smartest tech decisions you ever made.

The End of Android’s Childhood?

Android has been part of our lives since September 2008. At the time, it was hard to imagine quite what a juggernaut the operating system would become.

To many, it’s already grown up. It’s fast, fluid, sleek, professional, and millions of user around the world love it. But I don’t think it has grown up. If anything, it’s only just starting to embark on its teenage years. Over the next few years, you’ll see it grow a beard, start university, and get married. It might even change its name.

2017 is more than the year of Android. It’s the start of the decade of Android.

Disagree? Can Apple respond to the ever-increasing threat of Android domination? Or is it happy to consign itself to being a luxury brand for the few? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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  1. jbelkin
    May 31, 2017 at 3:56 am

    Android is really 100 different OSes - especially Android China.

    Android is free and easy to create backdoors, of course it's perfect for governments and government like entities which track you like Google.

    Nothing wrong with that but you get what you pay for.

    Android is already dead on ALL OTHER NON-SMARTPHONE devices as something NO consumer is willing to pay for.

    Consumers wont even buy a Google phone with Android (Nexus,Moto, Pixel, HTC ...). Google has LITERALLY spent $15 billion dollars to sell about 3-million phones. NEST is not growing and no one is buying Android tablets or smartwatches.

    If people won't buy an android smartwatch, you think they want an android OS car - hahahaha.

    With 3,500 phones avaialble, what were the 4 best selling phones of 2016? Iphone 7, iphone 6, iphone 7+, iphone 6+ ...

    Consumers are willing to use androd if it's FREE. But when they can afford an OS, Apple wins EVERYTIME.

    You might find android to work with to track yur customers but in the REAL WORLD, Android is death as a paid product.

  2. decafjava
    May 30, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    Hurray for surveillance capitalism!

  3. Andy S.
    May 30, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    Your comparisons in the second section only make sense if you're being willfully ignorant of the salient details.

    VHS beat Betamax in terms of user numbers, sure. And Betamax disappeared as a result. But that's because lower user numbers also meant that Betamax as a technology ceased to be profitable. As it stands, the iOS ecosystem remains profitable. iOS isn't going away any time soon.

    It's also an unfortunate comparison, considering that Betamax is still considered to have been technologically superior to VHS. Using the VHS vs. Betamax analogy as your evidence of how high user numbers are the important factor in a platform war isn't exactly complimentary of Android.

    IE had greater user numbers than Netscape, but only because it was pre-installed on every Windows PC, and Windows PCs were the dominant computing platform. Did IE really "smash" Netscape Navigator, though? Not really. After Netscape was bought by AOL, the technology behind Navigator eventually grew into what we know today as Mozilla Firefox. Now, ask yourself: how many people do you know who use IE as their primary browser? You're more likely to find out that someone is a Firefox user than an IE user these days.