…of the year, 2013

Best new feature to an existing app of the year: The integrated people and local business search functionality in the Android 4.4 Phone app.

Biggest foot in mouth statement of the year: Vic Gundotra's "we are committed to making Nexus phones insanely great cameras. Just you wait and see."

Biggest non-surprise of the year: The Snowden/NSA revelations. Absolutely nothing about these stories have surprised me. I think it was entirely naive to think the world's governments would act any differently.

Most innovative app of the year: Chat Heads is mobile messaging done right. Arguably it is mobile multitasking done right also. Hats off to the Facebook team responsible here.

Best new app of the year: Google+ Movie Maker. As a parent to young children, I have pined for an app like this for a long time, and Google absolutely nailed it. The resulting videos more often than not are fantastic, and the accompanying interface for editing videos is intuitive, powerful and fast. I look forward to Facebook and especially Dropbox's future offerings in this space.

Worst app of the year: The AOSP camera app. I previously described this app as a glyph-fueled clusterfuck (http://goo.gl/DJFX8K). With some time to reflect on this statement, I don't think it's the least bit harsh. The sooner this dog of an app is superseded by the inevitable Google+ Camera app, the better.

Best service of the year: I freely admit that I take Google Search, Gmail, Maps et al. for granted at this point, so I'm giving this to Netflix, which I only hooked up for the first time this year. Also, I loved both House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, so I'm really looking forward to seeing future Netflix Originals. Honorable mentions go to Twitter and Spotify.

Please fix what you've got before adding more new stuff of the year: YouTube. 
I appreciate hosting a large percentage of the Internet's video and delivering it to consumers instantly is a huge technical challenge. I also appreciate figuring out deals with ISPs globally to deliver this content as fast as possible has its own challenges. But as a user of YouTube and thus a consumer of YouTube ads, I am sick to fucking death of watching loading spinners and waiting for videos to buffer.

I largely have no interest in your service anymore of the year: Facebook. On the rare occasions I do stop by (usually as a result of spammy notifications), I find myself largely uninterested in 95%+ of the content that appears in my feed. Combine the fact that the increasing amount of ads that display are largely irrelevant to me with that high signal to noise ratio, and the consequence is I simply rarely bother using the Facebook's core service as a result. 

Shrug of the year: The PS4 and Xbox One. I grew up playing game consoles, but I largely just don't care anymore. The device in my pocket and down the crevice of my couch is of far more interest to me.

Where is the API of the year: The Google Now integration in Google Launcher is great. Google, Y U NO let 3rd parties do the same? Runner up here goes to Google again for not providing a ChromeView or similar that 3rd party developers can use as an alternative to the dog-awful WebView that ships on pre-Android 4.4 devices.

Most appreciated developer tool of the year: Google's support for distributing alpha and beta app updates via Google Play. Android Studio gets a notable mention also.

Perhaps this is too ungrateful of the year: Being able to roll out app/beta updates in ~2 hours is awesome, especially compared to Apple's rand(3,10) day waiting period. But I do wish that ~2 hour period were closer to ~2 minutes…  

Most exciting news I didn't see coming of the year: Cyanogen Inc.. Doubly so with the recent news they raised another $22 million, from A16Z no less. 

Increased workload of the year: Sundar Pichai walked into Larry Page's office earlier this year as head of Chrome, Chrome OS, Gmail and Apps, and left with all of that plus Android.

Let's be a little more ambitious next time shall we of the year: The Moto X launch. WAY too soft.

Time to pick that low hanging fruit of the year: I can't transfer a Google+ Instant Upload video to YouTube in a single click? Seriously?

Expectation that didn't happen of the year: I thought for sure Google would snap up Twitter before they IPO'd, although I'm largely glad they didn't. Having another big Internet player as opposed to the biggest getting bigger is a good thing IMO.

Biggest surprise of the year: After spending time with the HTC One, Xperia Z, Nexus4/5 and S4, I feel Android 4.2+ has now reached the point where any high end Android device is largely 'good enough'. Amazingly, I even found TouchWiz palatable. Given the quality of Android itself and the much improved accompanying app ecosystem (both 1st and 3rd party), I think the days of worrying about an unavoidably bad Android OEM experiences are largely behind us.

Most disappointing non-release of the year: I was really hoping 2013 would be the year we saw Apple and Google make a proper, app-enabled play for the living room. I guess next year will be the year, but I said that the last 2 years so who knows.

About time of the year: With the Chromecast, Google finally provided a seamless and easy way to allow me to make YouTube content and Play Store purchases display on my TV.

Most eye opening article of the year: Perhaps it should have always been obvious to me, but this excellent article by +Kevin Tofel really opened my eyes to the future potential for Chrome as a platform: http://goo.gl/FZHGKm.

Best article from last year that I only read this year: The Song Machine - http://goo.gl/dPEsQu. A fascinating and depressing insight into how the modern day music industry shovels out hit after hit year after year.

Most breathless moment of the year: Ozymandias, the 3rd to last Breaking Bad episode.

Let's all calm the fuck down of the year: The Internet, from September until the Nexus 5 announcement. /r/Android was unbearable, and even my Google+ and Twitter feeds were half filled with inescapable speculation and incessant chatter. I might aim to do a digital cleanse during this time of year in 2014 to avoid all this again.

You dropped the ball at the finish line of the year: The HTC One. I think this phone is largely fantastic. The build quality is outstanding, I genuinely like Sense, and it's great to see HTC issuing OS updates quickly. But for the life of me, I will never understand why HTC decided to dedicate the most prominent, easy to access area on the front of the device for useless branding instead of a hardware button (http://goo.gl/ALnEmO). Furthermore, the power button barely protrudes from the top of the device, and is very difficult to activate, at least on my device.

Phone of the year: Even with the ever-ugly TouchWiz, I'm giving this to the S4 for the simple fact that the camera is the best I've used on an Android phone, and as a parent with young kids, nothing is more important to me in a phone than a good camera that I can access quickly.

Tablet of the year: The Nexus 7. A fantastic screen, great build quality, much improved hardware specs all at a price roughly half as cheap as a Retina iPad Mini. What's not to love here? I bought a Retina iPad Mini, but I've barely touched it since, so that's saying something.

The biggest hit and miss release of the year: Android 4.4. I'm fine with a continued refinement of Android, I really am, especially considering Google are so good at rolling out new features via Play Services to all Android users. But given there have now been 4 'clean up' releases since Android 4.0 released, I find it largely inexcusable that there's still a heap of stuff that is maddeningly broken/inconsistent - http://goo.gl/rCXAeA. Furthermore, there are a bunch of other areas that as a Android developer and user alike, I continue to feel needed addressing for the "this is the release for the next billion users" update. The back button is still a mess, there's no way to revoke permissions, and the Android TV updates mentioned at I/O seemingly never eventuated. There was plenty of positives with Android 4.4, but it was a long way from being all roses in my mind.
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