What a difference a year makes.
At NAMM 2014, Android OS ran the majority of attendees’ smartphones and tablets, yet it was conspicuously absent from the show’s running dialogue when it came to new mobile OS-dependent pro audio and MI products. Not surprisingly, last year’s NAMM offerings in pro audio were largely about Apple’s iOS for audio “on the go.”
This evening, I’m only one day into NAMM 2015 and I’ve already seen “Android” on literally dozens of manufacturer booths, banners and promotional materials, often mentioned alongside iOS in near-equal billing (though still out of alphabetical order). Most notably, Harman and Yamaha Corporation’s Line 6 equally embraced Android and iOS for their newest and most innovative control software-based product introductions.
Granted, 2014 was a monumental year for the ubiquitous Google-managed open source mobile OS. Android OS—in its November 2014-released version 5.0 “Lollipop” redesign—was arguably improved by leaps and bounds. Meanwhile in the realm of marketing, America’s general public—alongside the most myopic consumer tech fiend—was familiarized with the OS most folks carry in their pockets thanks to Android’s feel-good holiday season TV ad blitz featuring the Andrew W.K. anthem “Party Hard.” In all seriousness, I believe that ad campaign did help to pierce the brains of some, reminding them that there are great possibilities beyond iOS, if for nothing else but the sheer number of smartphones and tablets out there running Android today.
Of course, Android’s inherent hurdle remains its extreme audio latency issues (see my October 2014 “where’s Android in pro audio?” article for the next-to-final issue of Pro Audio Review, http://www.prosoundnetwork.com/androidvoid). But with third-party manufacturers now officially depending on both Android and iOS to facilitate their own products’ functionalities, I expect Google to react in some form of equal measure, striving to further evolve Android in becoming a formidable competitor in content creation to iOS—even to benefit a niche market like ours.
Strother Bullins is the Reviews Editor for NewBay Media’s AV/Pro Audio Group.