Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls and children of all ages. It's time to announce the winners of the 2011 Android Central Readers Choice Awards.
These are the awards in which you, the reader, picked the winners. They're not necessarily our favorites (as you've already seen). But with thousands of you voting over the course of a couple weeks, we now know your favorites.
It's been a hell of a year, to say the least. With what felt like dozens of smartphones and tablets announced at CES in January 2011, to more a month later at Mobile World Congress, and more still at CTIA in March -- plus new releases weekly, plus a lot of stuff that doesn't even deserve mention -- we've seen dozens and dozens of new devices. And more apps than we can count.
This isn't scientific. This is a snapshot at what ends 2011 as your favorite Android devices and apps. You voted 'em in, you reap the whirlwind, folks. Enjoy, and let the flaming begin!
Smartphone of the Year
Winner: Samsung Galaxy Nexus
No surprise here, right? The Galaxy Nexus was your pick undoubtedly because it's the first Android smartphone with Ice Cream Sandwich, and it was released late in the year, and it's the first Nexus phone on Verizon in the United States. But it's also a hell of a phone thanks to that 4.65-inch Super AMOLED HD display and dual-core processor.
It's not a perfect phone. The camera and speakerphone are disappointing. But its sexiness outweighs its imperfections.
Again, not really a surprise, if only for the sheer numbers. The Galaxy S II was first released worldwide, and later in the United States on three of the four major carriers (Verizon got that Galaxy Nexus thing instead), plus several of the regionals.
Traditional 10-inch Android tablet of the year
Winner: Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
Thin, light, fast -- who didn't like the Galaxy Tab 10.1? It had a bit of a rocky start, undergoing a fairly drastic redesign between the time it was announced at Mobile World Congress in February and then reannounced at CTIA a month later. Crazy stuff. But it also stood head and shoulders above just about every other Android tablet.
And that one tablet that you folks believe can stand up to the Galaxy Tab 10.1 comes from ASUS. The Transformer Prime is the follow-up to the original Transformer, which came out not too long after the Galaxy Tab 10.1. But the Prime is a monster -- the first quad-core tablet to hit the market.
We'd imagine that if the Transformer Prime hadn't had some pretty serious inventory constraints, you folks would have voted it No. 1.
Sub-10-inch tablet or e-reader of the year
Winner: Amazon Kindle Fire
Again, no shocker that you all voted the Kindle Fire No. 1 here. It's not the sexiest hardware, nor is it the most powerful. But it's got full access to the Amazon Appstore and Video on Demand, and an Amazon Prime account makes things even more special. And the price is right at $200.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9
Oh, hi, Samsung. Welcome back. Take the Galaxy Tab 10.1, scale it down, and this is what you've got.
Most disappointing smartphone of the year
Makes sense to us. The Droid Bionic was unveiled at CES and the promptly fell off the face of the Earth. What the hell? And then it re-emerged months later, only it no longer was the same Droid Bionic we saw in Las Vegas. And when it finally launched in September, it did so with a host of bugs that are just now getting squashed.
And then there's the ThunderBolt, another one announced at CES before disappearing for a couple months. Unofficial launch dates came and went, but it still managed to be released in the first quarter of the year. Battery life on LTE remains, well, not good. And a number of you (and us) have experienced pretty major cosmetic failures over the months.
Most disappointing tablet or other device
Somebody had to be first, we suppose. And the first Honeycomb tablet was a brick. Big and heavy. And it launched with a pretty huge gap -- it was a 4G LTE device that couldn't actually do 4G LTE -- that took a hardware (!??!?!) upgrade from Motorola, meaning you had to send in the tablet to get it. Ridiculous, and we can't blame you for voting it as most disappointing tablet.
If there's one Google initiative that's fallen far short of expectations, it's Google TV. And leading that mediocre charge is the Logitech Revue. It started way too pricey at $300 and has since dropped to $99. That makes the pain of having to wait on its anemic hardware much more tolerable. And while the Honeycomb revamp has made the UI more usable, Logitech itself has said it's getting the hell out of the Google TV business.
Game of the year
Winner: Angry Birds
You can try, but you can't escape Angry Birds. And believe us, we've tried. And we're still trying.
Another great time-waster, but damned if it doesn't get a little ridiculously difficult.
Check-in app of the year
The check-in app of choice, for sure. Question is, will Path overtake it in 2012?
Your parents can even check in on Facebook now. Get used to it.
Social networking app of the year
Stalk your friends, stalk your family.
Google's fledgling social network is at the core of its entire strategy, and rightfully so. But you still have to figure out how to tell your friends and family to use it instead of Facebook. Or not.
Travel app of the year
Winner: Google Maps
Nobody does it better than Google Maps. Nobody.
And for the frequent traveler, no app keeps track of your itinerary better than Tripit.
Business app of the year
We're seeing QuickOffice installed on more and more devices -- especially tablets -- out of the box. Makes sense it ranked highest here.
But Google's close behind with its ever-improving mobile version of Google Docs.
Keyboard of the year
Choosing a keyboard is a pretty tough proposition. But Swype eked out the win this year. Wonder if it would have run away with the voting if it was more easily available/upgradable.
And in a close second was SwiftKey X, which touts a powerful prediction engine and can even learn your typing habits by tying into your Facebook, Twitter and Google accounts.
Twitter app of the year
Winner: Twitter for Android
Speaking of Twitter, Android's "official" Twitter account has improved by leaps and bounds, so much so that you voted it your top Twitter app for 2011.
Another close race -- TweetDeck finished second, and there are plenty of other clients nipping at its heels.
Tablet app of the year
Winner: Google Currents
An honest to goodness upset! Google's magagzine-style news reader's in its infancy, but you folks were impressed enough to vote it into the top spot. (And in case you were wondering, Android Central is still among the top "Science and Technology" subscriptions.
An old favorite, to be sure, and one of the original Honeycomb applications. Should be interesting to see if it can regain the top spot in 2012.
Hacking app of the year
Winner: ROM Manager
Millions of ROM flashers can't be wrong. ROM Manager makes it simple.
And if you're going to flash ROMs, there's no better way to move your app data from one build to another.
Podcatcher of the year
Winner: Google Listen
Google's podcatcher basically is abandonware at this point, but it still works pretty well and ties into your Reader account. Now if only we could get them to maybe add the Greatest Android Podcast in the World into its index?
Another longtime podcast favorite, though a pricey $4.99.
There you have it: Some of the top Android apps and devices as voted by you, the readers. See you in 2012!