OK, you got us. Android wasn’t launched in 2010. But 2010 was the year Android caught fire en route to seeing more than 300,000 activations per day around the world, spanning almost 200 devices. Fueling $1 billion in mobile ads a year, the operating system is clearly Google’s No. 1 product of 2010, rising to account for almost one-quarter of all smartphones in the United States. Expect 2011 to be a year of Android tablets as much as 2010 was one for Android handsets.
Easily our favorite new Google search feature, Google Instant streams results to users as they type, using predictive technologies. We love it, and so do financial analysts, who see it padding the company’s coffers.
Google Chrome has rocketed up the browser charts in 2010. Net Applications shows Chrome started the year at 5.2 percent market share. Now it’s poised to crack 10 percent next month, sporting more than 120 million users.
2010 will be known as the year Google doubled down on local search and advertising, or tried to, at least. While Google whiffed on Groupon, it revamped Google Local Business Center as Google Places to help local businesses get better placement via Google.com and Google Maps. Google Tags, Place Search, Google Boost and Hotpot are all part of this mix.
6Gmail Call from Phones
This great feature leverages Google Voice to let Gmail users make free calls to landlines and cell phones right from within the Gmail interface. Gmail is really becoming a unified communications hub.
7Gmail Priority Inbox
Google made Gmail smarter with priority inbox, a tool that prioritizes the more important messages for users to help them pare the inbox clutter.
Google TV, the marriage between Web and TV channel surfing, has only been out in the market since October. While it’s gotten a bad reputation for being too expensive and a bit rough, it’s a quality product that should only improve over time, eWEEK found.
9Google News Revamp
Google refreshed Google News in July. Readers can customize Google News based on their personal interests, promoting and demoting stories and other features the way they might on some social networks. Many folks hated the changes, but we found them attractive and useful.
Joining Voice Search and Voice Input, Google Voice Actions for Android moved the company one step closer to making speech the primary input method on mobile phones.
OK, so Chrome OS hasn’t officially launched this year. Google missed the deadline to have Chrome OS netbooks on the market by now. Instead, they’re coming next year from Acer and Samsung. Chrome OS isn’t done, but it’s promising. Why talk about it in 2010? Because we have the Cr-48 test netbook and love its speed and ease of use, despite the bugs.
This smartphone straddles the fence of best and worst products of 2010. As a device, the Nexus One, which Google co-developed with HTC, was a fan favorite. It was the first handset to run Android 2.1, and it was super fast with a 1GHz processor. But the delivery model proved premature. Google sold it only through its Webstore and failed to move enough units. Google’s Android chief Andy Rubin said Google was too ambitious in thinking this sight-unseen model would fly, which is why the new Samsung Nexus S launched at T-Mobile stores and Best Buy, allowing users to play with the device before buying it. We’re pretty sure this product will sell better, but it’s still only on T-Mobile or unlocked.
13Google Social Search
OK, show of hands. How many of you are using Google Social Search in your daily travels on Google.com? We didn’t think so. Adding social to search is an interesting idea, but this iteration, where social search results hide at the bottom of search results page recalls the adage: If the tree falls in the forest with no one around, does it make a sound?
Google in February launched Google Buzz with great fanfare, which was overshadowed quickly by major privacy concerns. Buzz never recovered and no one but Googlers and their friends use the service. Expect Google to abandon it in 2011, or bundle it with the forthcoming Google + 1 social layers.