News Opinion Post 7 mins Dave Thorpe The Next Evolution of Android – What this might mean? Android currently has the largest market share in mobile operating systems globally. There are millions of Android users on various devices including smartphones, tablets, smart TVs and watches with market share as high as 91% in India and other emerging markets. The big shock for the new version of Android is Google have dropped the “sweet treat” names and changed to a basic numerical version with Android 10 or in the developer community “Android Q”. There are several reasons why Google have done this, but it is mainly due to international understanding and cultural translation. However, I do think this is a sign that Google is changing the way it treats Android as a product. Which could mean a change to the way we develop for Android. More on that a little later. The new branding with its choice of green tones has been changed to help people with visual impairments. There is a lot more being done to accommodate these kind of special requirements in app development. We have supported a few of our partners by testing and implementing W3C WAI accessibility standards/guidelines in their apps. There is a growing circulation of documentation explaining how to develop with these in mind and it appears that Google is adopting these standards and beginning to roll them out to developers on their platform. This is what Apple currently does and it means there is a more consistent feel to its iOS operating system. Our prediction is a similar approach for Android. This will mean Play Store and development standards are likely become more rigid over the next few years. One of the attractive things about developing for Android is the freedom it allows developers compared to iOS. Apple have historically stuck to much stricter guidelines and requirements for developing apps for their platform. Now Apple have gone all in on this approach, for reasons such as security and to create a consistent user experience. Not to mention the clear financial benefits of a closed ecosystem; how else would they sell a lightning cable for £19! This has been a turn off for some users’ but we believe Google may be gearing up to take Android down a similar path. The current digital climate is one where security, privacy and accessibility play such a huge role in any decisions users, and the all important business market, take that Google is likely taking steps towards improving these factors exponentially. There will, I’m certain, be more rules that we as developers must adopt to meet Play Store acceptance criteria and to be honest this is likely to be a positive change. It’s not beyond reasonable to assume that Google may begin to lock down their own devices while still providing open source Android code to form the basis of 3rd party manufacturer devices. This may give them the best of both worlds between security and flexibility Some developers will be unhappy with the more rigorous requirements but all of these changes are designed to benefit the end user. If they get a better quality of app that behaves more like the other apps they interact with they are more likely to continue to engage with the app long term which is great for businesses trying to engage or market to their customers. So in short we believe it’s likely Google will introduce stricter guidelines around accessibility and developing on their platform in the next couple of years. This may receive backlash from a developer community used to being reasonably unshackled as things stand but in the long term users and businesses will benefit from the changes to the apps they’re using every day.