To say this has been an exciting year is a bit of an understatement. For starters, I'm wrapping up my first whole year as an Editor here at Android Central, which is a big deal to me all on its own. Stepping back from the personal, however, Android as a platform has had an incredible year. Some things have shattered expectations and set new highs, while others have caused year-long arguments about functionality and purpose.
It's been a long, interesting year. Here are some of my favorite things to have happened along the way.
1. So many amazing things happened in VR
If you've been following my work, it's probably not a shock that the first thing I want to talk about is VR. There's been some incredible developments in virtual reality this year, including a huge boom in apps for Google Cardboard and all of the excitement surrounding the final release of the Samsung Gear VR. The most exciting development in VR, at least as far as hardware and software goes, comes from time spent with the HTC Vive.
HTC and Valve are going to do incredible things with Vive in the new year, and I can't wait to see what the finished product looks like.
While I didn't get to talk with him about the Vive, a brief interview with the one and only Bill Nye about Google Cardboard and all the exciting things that happened with high-res images of Pluto is absolutely a high point in my life. It was a great chat, especially when Bill Nye basically called ViewMaster VR coming later in the year with his reaction to the tech being used.
2. Talking about new hardware in the forums
Android Central is the first place I've every written that has such an active, vibrant forum. When the LG G4 was launched, it was all hands on deck and everyone on staff here was working hard to learn everything there was to learn about this new phone and it's incredible camera. I wasn't in New York or London with most of the crew for the launch event due largely to attempts to physically recover from a broken leg, and that made me the perfect person to take the phone I had just received into the forums and answering anything asked about the phone.
It was my first time really interacting with everyone in the forums, and I loved it. This community is great, asking so many questions and encouraging me to look at things outside of my usual set of steps for evaluating hardware. From that point, I genuinely looked forward to being able to take a new phone to the forums for a new conversation. Interacting with everyone in the forums is easily one of my favorite things from 2015, and it all started with the G4.
3. My favorite phone, the BlackBerry Priv
There have been a lot of amazing Android phones released this year, and while there are at least two other phones I would admit are fully better than this one, my favorite phone to be released this year is the BlackBerry Priv. I like that BlackBerry is moving forward as a company and embracing an alternative OS, and I like that Android finally has a phone with a physical keyboard that isn't awful again. I love what BlackBerry is doing with software, especially with updates, the hardware itself is genuinely a pleasure to use.
Here's hoping BlackBerry keeps doing interesting things in the new year. Personally, I'd love to see them continue to challenge what a modern smartphone looks and feels like, even if it's not the most popular hardware on the market.
4. My favorite toy — BB-8 by Sphero
I'm an average Star Wars nerd, but I'm a much bigger robotics nerd. Having followed the work done by Orbotix over the last couple of years, I became highly suspicious that the company wasn't showing off their tech at CES in January. Instead, the company had a private meeting space for vendors and a small party to show off their Darkside Ollie. I jokingly asked someone working for the company when they were going to start talking about BB-8, having just recently seen the first trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and the reaction wasn't quite what I expected.
Nine long months later, I got an email about a package headed my way from Sphero, and inside the box was the BB-8 app-powered robot. It's such a cool little thing to come from an amazing company, and its release started a massive downpour of Star Wars gear all over the world.
5. The internet of bullshit, 2015's greatest failure
If you had asked me what was going to excite me most about 2015 at the end of last year, I'd have told you all about the connected home. My house had just been mostly outfitted with Hue bulbs, I'd just set up a Nest Thermostat, and was genuinely excited about the growing pace of companies in the connected home space.
And then, all of a sudden, everything screamed to a halt.
A lot of things happened, and in all fairness some of them needed to happen. It turned out most things weren't being built with encrypted data in mind, and a lot of hardware needed to be remade and designed to play nice with Apple's HomeKit and Google's connected home solutions. At the same time, things that seemed like really great ideas when they were announced stumbled and never really lived up to the promise. The biggest example of this is the Kwikset Kevo, which even now fails to be as functional as the previous "smart" locks made by the same company.
We also had some great ideas stall out and fail to be as interesting as originally suggested. Samsung's purchase of Smart Things, Google' announcement for Weave, and Apple's HomeKit are still very much lacking the promise of grand unification. We don't have anything right now that feels like a complete thought, and there's not a ton of evidence to suggest we'll get that in the new year either. For me, the promise of a connected home in 2015 turned into the Internet of Bullshit, and it sucks. Hopefully it sucks less soon, but I rather doubt it.