January 4, 2010 | by Andrew Kameka
Android apps had a strong showing in 2009, growing from a list of a few hundred to a list of 20,000. While analysts believe that number will increase up to 150,000 apps this year, I don’t really believe the overall number matters too much. Android will sink or swim because of the quality of apps, not the quantity. Here is my wish list for 11 Android apps I’d like to see debut in 2010. Why 11? Because 10 was too easy.
Syncing files across several computers is easy with Dropbox. Save or copy a file into a designated folder and that file will be accessible from any computer running Dropbox or through a member’s online account. It would be great to have those apps, documents, photos, and new MP3′s available on my phone as easily as I can access them on my laptop. There are other services that do this, but the simplicity and my satisfaction using the product makes me hope for Dropbox.
Likelihood: Strong. Last year, Dropbox posted a job opening for an Android developer to “Lead development and testing of a native Dropbox app for Android mobile devices.”
10. Project Chronos (or any other multiplayer game)
Thanks to its real-time, multiplayer action, first person shooters rank among the most popular (and best) games on both PC’s and consoles. They let players run though halls and blast each other in competition, providing hours of fun. Android has a multiplayer shooter in Project INF, but that’s an overhead game and slower than the fast-paced FPS fun I’d to like to have on my next phone. I hope someone will deliver this year.
Likelihood: Possible. Several months ago, someone displayed an Android-based first person shooter that showed a great deal of promise. It was called Project Chronos and looked pretty nifty for an Android game. Considering the hardware upgrades we’ve seen in the next breed of Android phones, I hope we’ll be able to push them to their limits with this game.
Sling promises to unveil something new at CES, and I’m crossing my fingers that something new will be support for Android. Sling lets users watch or control their televisions from anywhere. It’s the modern version of sneaking a portable TV in your suit at a wedding, except Sling will be more convenient and feature-rich. I would love to have this for days when I’m sitting in the airport or waiting at the dentist’s office.
Likelihood: Mixed. “Sling coming to Android” rumors are as old as Android. As far back as 2008, Sling Media’s Europe VP said, “We’re looking at it closely, and we’ll develop in time for anything we can.” A year and half later and we’re still waiting. If Sling’s big announcement this week isn’t that it’s delivering an Android app, the waiting game could stretch well into the year.
8. MySpace Music
MySpace’s popularity has fizzled in recent years, and shutting down imeem did little to win the company more friends. But, I still hope that MySpace will deliver a revitalized form of imeem under their own name and licensing agreements. Imeem was a great app, so it would be wise for MySpace to rebrand the service, add some of the independent artists and libraries isn’t licensed to use, and then bring back imeem as MySpace Music.
Likelihood: Probable. MySpace has already said that it’s working to integrate imeem into its service and transfer member playlists. The imeem website redirects to MySpace, which is undergoing a rebirth as an online music destination. It makes sense for MySpace to recapture imeem’s disappointed users before they all migrate to Pandora, Slacker, or Last.fm without giving the new MySpace Music a second chance. They’ll need a mobile app for that to happen.
It’s long been rumored that Hulu would eventually create a mobile app so people could access its content on the go. How great would it be to watch last night’s episode of Modern Family during your morning commute? There’s already a trick to watch NBC shows from an Android phone, but a Hulu app would supply a large library of videos not available on YouTube and provide hours of entertainment.
Likelihood: Unknown. Like anything involving Hulu, jointly-owned by several American networks, it’s difficult to say when or if a mobile app would debut. NBC’s sale to Comcast could throw a wrench in previous plans to launch mobile apps. We’re probably better off hoping for a chance to use Hulu once Flash finally becomes available for Android.
6. Fennec, Chrome, or Opera Mobile
Android doesn’t need another browser. In fact, I’m so pleased with Dolphin that I won’t lose any sleep if any these apps aren’t released. However, I know others would love to see them and I wouldn’t mind taking a look at more browser options. Fennec will likely provide syncing bookmarks with Firefox (and maybe an add-on or two), Chrome would probably be the fastest browser out, and Opera Mobile would be just-plain-bad-ass. I’m content to use Dolphin Browser in 2010, but there’s nothing like a little competition.
Likelihood: Strong. Firefox execs have stated on multiple occasions that they plan to bring their mobile browser to new platforms, though it seems Maemo, Symbian, and Windows Mobile will be first. Chrome is a longshot but I wouldn’t be surprised if Google debuts a new mobile browser this year. Opera Mobile will definitely appear on Android in some form since it’s already been delivered to OEM’s, but I’d love to snatch it from the Android Market.
ESPN is the “worldwide leader in sports,” but not in Android, where users must rely on the mobile ESPN website for their sports fix. The website is one of the best around, but I’d much rather have a native app that moved faster and efficiently. It would be great to see schedules, get updates, read articles, listen to podcasts and manage my fantasy teams in one place rather than do this with five competing apps and a website. If you’re going to subject us to lame jokes on Sportscenter, the least you can do is give us something to make up for it during the rest of the day.
Likelihood: Unlikely. Though ESPN has released apps for the iPhone, it has yet to give any indication that it would develop an app for Android. Unless there Android adoption rate skyrockets in 2010, we probably won’t have enough users to warrant ESPN developing such an app.
There are many Twitter apps available for Android, but TweetDeck would be the one app to rule them all. I would love to be able to manage multiple accounts, sync searches, have lists, and have an Android app that integrated with my favorite desktop Twitter client. If their iPhone app is any indication, Tweetdeck would be the early favorite for Best Android Twitter App in the next ANA’s.
Likelihood: Mixed. Tweetdeck has fielded several user requests for an Android app, and replied that “We are determined to eventually see TweetDeck available for other mobile platforms, such as Windows Mobile, Symbian, Blackberry and Android, but there are no timelines for these as yet.” Symbian and Blackberry have larger user bases, but the company could opt to support Android first given its users have been more vocal in their desire for a Tweetdeck app.
3. A Decent Media Player
As much flack as people give Apple for the iPhone’s limitations, media playback and browsing is one area in which the iPhone/iPod blows everyone else out of the water. The library and player UI in stock Android is not great, and I hope someone will address this finally with a new app. The Sony XPERIA X10 looks like it has the first truly great Android media app, but I’m not sure I’ll be getting it. I hope another app can be as compelling.
Likelihood: Unknown. Your guess is as good as mine.
2. Google Wave
Wave is a Google product and Android is Google’s baby, so why don’t they get along? Google Wave doesn’t perform very well in the Android browser and it doesn’t make sense for a third-party to develop an app because Google will probably come along and deliver an official version. It could take a long time for that to happen since beta-happy Google is still trying to perfect the desktop version. I’d still love to be able to easily use Wave from my phone, allowing real-time communication with a team of people at events (like Androinica covering CES for example).
Likelihood: Slim, but I’ve learned to never count out Google. If we don’t get an app, maybe we’ll get a better mobile site for the Android browser.
1. Update All
I’d sacrifice all the apps on this list to have this one app. The Android Market needs an update all button. If someone finds a way to implement this, I guarantee they will be loved by every Android user in the world. Who among us hasn’t tired of updating apps one by one and thought, “I wish there was a way to update all 20 of these at once.” A batch updater would be worth paying for, and I urge any developer or Google employee reading this to find a way to do it. You will make 2010 the best year in Android yet.
Likelihood: Unknown. Really, sadly, unfortunately unknown.