By US Today
The creators of Android are likely to announce a key milestone at the Google I/O developers conference set to start Wednesday: 2 billion users.
“That’s just a massive number,” said Greg Sterling, a senior editor with the Search Engine Watch blog and one of the industry watchers anticipating the milestone. “Android is far and away the dominating operating system globally.”
The iPhone is the most popular smartphone in the United States, but globally, folks prefer Android phones like the Samsung Galaxy, Google Nexus and LG’s G series.
At a September event to tout 2015’s Nexus phone releases, Google said it had 1.4 billion Android users. And at last year’s I/O, Google said there were 1 billion users on the Android system. So at that rate, Android users may have already topped 2 billion.
According to researcher IDC, Android is expected to close 2016 with 82.6% market share, slightly up from 2015’s 81.2%, to 15.2% for IOS, down from the previous year’s 15.8%.
At I/O, Google is likely to reveal more about changes to the Android system, home to over 2 million smartphone apps. Developers also create apps for Google’s Chromebook computers and extensions for the Chrome operating system.
Google sneak-peeked some of the new features in March, so expect a bigger deep dive on them, as well as others at I/O.
On its new operating system “N,” which is likely to show up on new phones in the fall, users will be able to do split-screen multitasking–the ability to run two apps at once. Plus N should have improved battery life, call screening, the ability to record TV shows, and quicker installs of apps.
“Users will see less drain,” says Derek Ting, CEO and co-founder of the TextNow app, which is available for Android and IOS. Better battery performance means users “can use our apps for much longer,” he adds.
At last year’s I/O, Google introduced the Android M update, which brought fingerprint security support, faster charging via USB-C connections and a permission feature that allowed users to mix and match which ones they agree with–yes, you can use my camera, no, you can’t track my location.
Google built Android to become the dominant mobile software, overtaking platforms like Nokia, Symbian and BlackBerry, fueled by giving the system away to manufacturers for free.
It makes no money on Android, per see, but Google ends up profiting by having so many people in the Google universe, says Sterling. “It has control of the Android handset and keeps Google services front and center in front of users.”
The I/O conference runs through Friday.