Although Google’s Android OS for mobile phones came out in 2008, it spent the greater part of the year as a relatively niche platform tied to a single phone and carrier. That changed this year, with an explosion of Android phones across manufacturers and carriers (most notably, Motorola’s Droid on Verizon). The platform is even beginning to pop up in non-phone devices, such as the Barnes & Noble Nook e-book reader, and a tablet made by Archos.
Thanks to a thriving app store, a strong arsenal of hardware and an impressive user experience, it can now be considered the chief competitor to the iPhone. Its open aesthetic may appeal to those who are fed up with Apple’s closed ecosystem. The lingering question: With Android moving off of phones and onto other types of machines, will it compete with, or complement, Google’s upcoming Chrome computer operating system?