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In today's mobile market, Google Android has been dominating more than 80 percent of smartphones sales. While it is crucial to keep up with the latest trends and technologies, in an interaction with Gizbot, Ashwin Ramachandra, VP, and Head, Product Engineering Services, Sasken Technologies Limited, has revealed key points on the latest technologies enhancing the Android space.
Further, he has talked about the key trends of Android development and how it will define market changes and how the technology will further dominate the market. So read on below to know about the latest trends in the Android world.
Evolution of Android
Though the initial plan was to create a camera platform, Android was modified for use in handsets after Google acquired it. Since then, Google has enhanced Android stack with frameworks that are application development friendly and features that delight consumer, in the various versions of Android that we have seen over the years. Due to its openness and ease of customization, Android saw a huge uptake with device manufacturers (other than handsets) for devices such as digital cameras, wearable devices, and smart TVs. A few years ago, Google started focusing on including support for the automotive segment in Android. Google is also planning to make Android available for Automotive hardware directly unlike Android Auto.
Android has, now, evolved to be the operating system of choice for smart home devices and cars due to its flexibility of adding features and enhancements for various use cases in homes and cars. The latest version, Android Oreo, creates a more seamless Bluetooth user experience when connecting devices to the in-vehicle infotainment system (IVI). The IVI listens for events, such as unlocking a car door or starting the engine and automatically scans for in-range Bluetooth devices.
What are the technological trends that are currently enhancing the Android space?
While Android has always been in the devices space, "we will see an increase in its penetration in other verticals - most importantly in the Automotive space," Mr. Ramachandra said.
While today, less than 5-10 percent cars have an Android infotainment system, we believe that it will be upwards of 40-50 percent in 2020. Given that the Automotive industry has long R&D cycles, there is a large inflection of Android in the Automotive space. "If you look at what happened in the devices space almost a decade ago, we had multiple operating systems such as Symbian, Linux-based, as well as individual, home-grown operating systems. Android came and changed all of that into something like a duopoly, as far as smartphones are concerned with about 85 percent market share," he added. He also believes that the adoption is going to repeat in the infotainment space which means that the market share of Android is going to significantly increase in the next three to five years. This will be the single biggest breakaway trend of Android that will be seen outside the devices space.
How are mobile applications are increasingly playing a vital role for businesses and changing people's lives?
The latest version of Android gives more options to users and developers to fine-tune applications. A large community of developers is helping to build diverse applications thus driving rapid innovation. Google is focusing on educating the public about their robust application security systems to change the perception of Android as a non-secure OS compared to iOS.
What does it take for smartphone manufacturers to keep abreast with the latest version of Android?
Smartphone manufacturers find it very challenging to ensure that their devices are up-to-date with the latest variations of Android. While they have to make sure that their devices can support the latest version of the Android OS, they also have to ensure that their devices have the latest hardware in order to make complete use of the features that the newer versions enable. For example, if the latest version of Android provides mirroring technologies then the smart phone's hardware must also be able to support this. Hence, a major challenge that smartphone manufacturers go through is getting the latest handset to the market and in time with the release of a new version of Android. Even though software updates are important for OEMs to ensure that consumers have the latest operating systems, the presence of older hardware in devices can compromise on the device's overall performance.
Can you elaborate on Sasken's solution for the customers?
The significant penetration of Android in the Automotive space is something of interest. We have seen Android enter other spaces like Smart TVs but the inflection and impact it has had in that space is significantly lower than what it would be in the Automotive space for Android. "In the Automotive space, we are going to see a lot of Android-based infotainment systems and Android in the cockpit of the car will come into play. Coming to our partnerships, we have very deep relationships and extensive experience of working in the Android ecosystem with semiconductor vendors, tier-1s, and OEMs. Today, we are witnessing that R&D spends have shifted to Android-based infotainment and Android-based telematics systems, which have become critical, and it will continue to grow," he stated.
Access to Android as well as semiconductor platforms has given us opportunities to innovate and bring in new experiences into the Android ecosystem. In the mobile space, Sasken has been doing that with upgrades and new product introductions. In the Automotive space, he has said that it will be slightly different because Android was initially designed to be a mobile operating system and therefore adapting it to the Automotive environment requires changes, some of which have been carried out on the Android generic framework itself.
However, "we can see a lot of avenues for furthering that as well as bringing in innovations and experiences that are currently not part of the Android ecosystem. We know that over a period of time they will probably get subsumed into the Android system itself but our deep understanding of the infotainment space and Android has helped us recognize opportunities where we can bring in these differentiated experiences," he responded.
Can you give us insights on how Sasken has taken a vantage position in the Android ecosystem?
Sasken is at a vantage point because of the deep relationships we have with semiconductor companies. Silicon chips in the next two years will most likely have Android as one of the two or three default operating systems. Given that, we have gained such an extensive experience with Android in the mobile space over the past decade, we are leveraging that to work with various stakeholders in the Android ecosystem to bring up Android-based systems for cars.
Can you please elucidate on the importance of application security in an increasingly connected world?
Today, phones are being used increasingly for sensitive applications social media and mobile banking. Hence, security is paramount. Biometric authentication and complex password protections are gaining more traction with customer awareness, safe browsing, recognizing phishing becoming extremely important. A connected device is an invitation to unscrupulous elements to hack the system which is why all connected devices are susceptible to attacks. Therefore, application stores need to enforce extreme caution and stringent device security policies to make sure that the apps are verified and secure for use. Users also need to exercise caution in downloading applications and must download only those that have been verified and cleared by respective application stores.
A small comparison between Android, Windows or other OS
Android and iOS are the top two operating systems for mobile phones in the world while Windows and MAC compete for the PC space. Today, Android has the highest market share (close to 85 percent) and its open source development capability also ensures that the market gets high-quality phones from the lowest price range using latest technologies like 4G. This has significantly helped in the wide adoption of Android. Compared to iOS, Android provides more options to its users with OEMs also adding their own features to attract customers. iOS, on the other hand, has closed development and limited features but customers who prefer iOS like it for its fabulous user experience.
Commercialization of Android versions in regions across the globe
Sasken has played a crucial role in delivering R&D services to port various versions of Android on leading chipset platforms in the market today and has helped launch over 20 different models. More recently, our understanding of the Android framework helped us rapidly build, test, and develop launch-ready features for an Asian CE Conglomerate. The list of features included fingerprint-based application access, location-based profiling for application availability, smart reply to enable location sharing, and a customized application launcher to enable dynamic presentation of relevant applications.