As the clock continues to click away to January 1st, we’re taking a look at our last top 9to5Google subject post of 2013. This time around we’ve saved the best for last as we look back at the last year in Android and the top 5 most read stories as determined by you, the 9to5Google reader. Perhaps the inevitable news is that 3 out of 5 or 60% of the top stories surround KitKat and its release. There were quite a few happenings in Android this year, but none more notable than the launch of the latest version of Android which has long been known as Key Lime Pie. Ultimately, Google decided on KitKat and announced the release with a partnership with the KitKat candy bar…which is exactly our kind of partnership. Facebook took its own stab at Android this year with Facebook Home and the HTC First, a story we’ll get to a little later on. I think it’s safe to call 2013 more of an evolutionary year in Android more so than revolutionary, but still another year where the platform surged in growth and adoption.
A mid-September Nexus 5, KitKat leak came via 9to5Google and as such comes in at the number two most read post of 2013. A trio of images showed off both the Nexus 5 and the purported new startup screen for Android 4.4 KitKat. Following the leak of the Nexus 5 in a promotional video for Google (that story will also appear on this list) we begun to get a pretty good idea of what the next-generation Nexus hardware would look like. Our images would go on to show some of the first set of images and video of the actual Nexus 5 hardware floating around in the wild, thanks to a distracted Google employee at a bar. There’s a lesson to be learned about taking unannounced smartphones to bars somewhere in here.
For years it has been rumored Facebook would launch its own Android device and while that possibility still exists, the launch of Facebook Home was arguably met with less than stellar results. Notorious Twitter tipster @evleaks was responsible for our third most read story of 2013 with an early preview at Facebook Home during his brief stint as lead editor on the site. His leaks ended up being dead-on once Facebook Home officially launched with a thud. The HTC First, arguably a good piece of hardware with a sub-par camera was also met with less than stellar sales results as it arrived with Facebook Home on board. Yes, there was a way to turn Facebook Home off and First users would end up with a stock Android experience, but few die-hard Android users saw any incentive to pick this up over a Nexus 4. Sadly, Facebook Home seems like a distant memory now and while it’s being maintained by Facebook…it’s going to take a miracle to put it back into the spotlight.
As I previewed in the very beginning, the Nexus 5 and surrounding leaks would dominate the top 5 Android stories out of 9to5Google in 2013. The third and final most read Nexus 5 story is the one where Google was either completely trolling us or absolutely went absent-minded and leaked the Nexus 5 hardware in plain view. The release of this video coincided with the announcement of Android 4.4 KitKat and was an official Google production that obviously went viral in a very big way. The big moment happened between 38-39 seconds as a Google employee snaps a photo/video with the device as the KitKat statue was erected on Google’s Mountain View campus lawn. The word Nexus is completely identifiable and given that the 2013 Nexus 7 also found the Nexus lettering in landscape, we all tended to believe this was the real deal. As it turns out, we were all right and Google successfully trolled us all.
For our fifth and final most read story of 2013, we’re going to turn our focus to the Nexus 5 yet again and a story written by yours truly. As was the case with the Nexus 4, the device launched in two channels: Google Play and T-Mobile. As the Nexus 5 released and the same two channels played out, the final cost to the customer led me to write that anyone looking to purchase the device should do so only through Google’s Play Store. It’s an argument I stand by and given the notion that Google is likely taking a loss on the hardware in order to hook more customers into the Android and Google ecosystems, it’s likely the best combination of price and features available for Android today. Sure, you could argue that other devices best the Nexus 5 overall, but none of those devices will be first to receive Android updates and forever run a plain vanilla Android experience. The Nexus 5 is the device die-hard Android fans wanted throughout 2013 and while there are subtle improvements we might make in the hardware or vast improvements we’d like to see made in overall camera quality, it’s still a fantastic device that should only be purchased through Google directly.