Credit: Robert Triggs / Android Authority
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We all love Android, but come on … Apple killed it this year.
Cupertino started running with the updated iPhone SE earlier this year. He showed Android manufacturers how to combine cutting-edge performance, key features and an affordable price in one winning formula. It is difficult to name an Android equivalent that is so good at all three. Not only did the phone review go very well, but it also set a benchmark for incredible value this year.
The Apple iPad update, the Watch 6 series and the iPhone 12 series are also predictably competent pieces of hardware. They have refined what we expect from Apple products over the years. Cupertino certainly knows how to make and market high-tech products, helping to keep Android tablets and smartwatches at arm’s length. The company also rocked its various subscription services, combining them in the Apple One package with more competitive prices. As a result, it is a leaner and more competitive force in the media race, which certainly does not harm Apple’s broader ecosystem.
Apple ended 2020 with its most radical change in years. Arm-based Macs with custom silicon from Apple will end the company’s dependence on Intel CPUs. This ushered in a new era of hardware and ecosystem control, from processors to operating systems. The closest combination of hardware and software will pay dividends for future products in terms of performance and features. The move to Arm-based PCs unifies the processor architecture with the iPad and iPhone platforms as well, blurring the boundaries between PC and mobile devices. Apple now has sufficient control to conduct performance, photography, games, security and other features across all of its platforms as it sees fit.
The fast Apple M1 chip is expected to disrupt the MacBook and laptop markets, as well as Intel. However, it is likely to be a headache for developers in the short term. Perhaps more importantly, the long-running “Wintel” paradigm is also under increasing pressure. Windows on Arm, which is currently powered by Qualcomm silicon, may have faster acceptance from Microsoft’s hardware partners if switching from Apple to Arm pays enough dividends for consumers.
Apple is definitely on the rise as 2020 comes to an end.
Not everything was roses
iPhone 12 Pro Max
Credit: David Imel / Android Authority
However, it would be wrong to characterize this year as a perfect victory. Apple has generated its fair share of controversies throughout 2020 as well.
The company clashed with Fortnite’s Epic Games publisher earlier this year over a 30% cut in revenue and publishing conditions. Apple ended up removing Fortnite from its App Store. He also decided to end Epic’s access to developer accounts and tools. This saga has not helped to alleviate the feeling that Apple is not very developer friendly. Neither does the company’s argument with the Hey email subscription service in a similar subscription dispute. Subsequently, damage control saw Apple reduce its application for free to 15% for smaller developers.
The hardware was also not a success this year. AirPods Pro Max headphones have been criticized for their exorbitant price of $ 550. Especially since rivals like the Sony WH-1000XM4 and Bose Noise Canceling 700 headphones are much cheaper. If annoying players and audiophiles was not enough, Apple has also managed to annoy virtually all of its iPhone 12 customers by dispensing with built-in chargers.
See too: The iPhone 12 without a charger is not as environmentally friendly as Apple wants you to think
While there are arguments about ecological waste over built-in chargers that are worth considering, Apple does not deserve any goodwill for your decision. Switching to a Lightning cable for USB-C means that some customers cannot charge their new iPhone 12 with older iPhone chargers. Having to buy a new USB-C charger undermines the wasteful argument, as well as the possible long-term switch to the proprietary MagSafe standard. Still, I would encourage customers to consider choosing a single USB-C charger for their phone and laptop needs.
Apple certainly hasn’t improved its bad reputation for hostile consumer and industry practices this year.
Android has won some victories, but the ecosystem battle is for Apple to lose
Credit: Robert Triggs / Android Authority
Despite some public relations setbacks, Apple’s hardware and ecosystem launches have left the company in a stronger position than at the beginning of the year and with a clear vision for 2021. It is more difficult to say the same for the Android ecosystem.
2020 saw the arrival of some very interesting Android phones with more affordable prices. Cheap 5G devices, like the Google Pixel 4a 5G and OnePlus Nord, have made the next-generation network more accessible than ever. Android nailed price and performance this year. There is also a familiar variety of powerful Android flagships, which are as good as the latest, if not better, iPhones. However, cutting-edge products are not shaking the industry on their own.
Related: Does Google have an answer for Apple’s all-in-one ecosystem?
Apple is moving towards a unified platform for smartphones, wearables, TV and now PCs. Cupertino is strengthening its ecosystem, with the goal of ensuring that all of its devices and services work well together in the future. Expansive ecosystems that meet all your technological needs are where the premium market is headed. Android makers don’t have that luxury. They are counting on Google, Microsoft and others to connect and dispute multiple devices together.
Samsung is perhaps the only Android brand with a product range wide enough to compete with Apple. Smartwatches with Tizen technology are closer to rivaling Apple Watch than their Wear OS counterparts. The company also has a range of smart devices and audio products under its belt, although its selection of tablets – especially the rival iPad Pro of the Galaxy Tab S7 Plus – is a case study in Google software that prevents good hardware. In comparison, the Apple iPad line reaps the benefits of a unified approach to premium hardware and software. That said, Samsung does not yet have a powerful PC platform or streaming market share like Apple. Meanwhile, Google also thinks of itself as a competitor to Apple, but barely registered in terms of product shipments.
Android makers cannot exercise the same control and influence over their broader product range as Apple.
While the long-awaited Google TV update for Android TV has offered some much-needed ecosystem improvements on the streaming front, Chromebooks in their current form will not unite Google’s mobile and PC platforms. Not in the same way as Apple’s Arm-Macs. Assistant and Google services are still great to use on multiple devices, of course, especially in the automotive and smart home market. But there is currently no vision to unify applications on these platforms and PCs. This is something that corporate customers will look at even more than we, typical consumers. Likewise, Google’s TV, wearables and games initiatives are still disjointed and underdeveloped.
So I am personally awarding Apple this year. The company has a clear and stimulating vision for the coming years. By comparison, 2020 was mostly business as usual for Android and Google. This is not necessarily a bad thing. We saw a lot of good devices this year. However, Android and Google seem less forward-looking than their biggest rivals. For now, at least.