Google’s Android operating system is present in two billion devices, and a history of more than a decade has behind it 15 codenames based on delicious desserts. It is a mature system, but to get to this point many changes, trials and errors have been necessary.
Today we will review the history of Android, from its beginnings to the present, reviewing each of its versions, what new features they included, what was discarded along the way, and what was the Easter egg included in each version.
An operating system for digital cameras
We have two dates to count the birth of Android. The first, on November 5, 2007, corresponds to the first public beta version of Android. The second, on September 23, 2008, corresponds to the first stable version of Android, Android 1.0, which we will see below and which still did not have a nickname for dessert.
However, the foundations of Android go further back in time. Android Inc. was founded in 2003 by Andy Rubin, Rich Miner, Nick Sears, and Chris White with the goal of developing “mobile devices that are aware of user location and preferences.”
Initially, the intention was to develop an advanced operating system for digital cameras, but later the focus was changed when it was determined that the market for digital cameras was not large enough. Efforts would be redirected to creating a system that could compete with Symbian and Windows Mobile.
In 2005, Google bought Android Inc and began the development of a mobile platform based on the Linux kernel. The idea then was to create a system similar to that of BlackBerry, based on the QWERTY keyboard. Then came the iPhone.
If Apple’s mobile had a touch screen, Google’s could not be less. The specifications were changed to include the use of the touch screen that would be supplemented by physical buttons. All the Android gears were on the table, except for the logo. Luckily, designer Irina Blok created the Andy / Bugdroid that we all know, and the previous beta design was a bit… regular.
On September 23, 2008, the first Android phone, the HTC Dream / T-Mobile G1, was launched and the race for versions, subversions, and dessert logos began that has continued to this day.
In the beginning, Android was Android, without dessert. The first version of Android was released on September 23, 2008, and it was not a sight to behold, but it included many of the fundamental building blocks of Android that have survived to this day. Simpler and rougher, yes.
The notifications tab, the widgets on the home screen, and the Android Market were already there. The integration with Gmail was excellent and included all the applications that you would expect to have on a feature phone like the web browser, the calculator, or the clock. If you need more, you could download it from Android Market, although there weren’t too many apps at the time. Google maps were already there, and what was missing was the virtual keyboard.
Android 1 received only one update. Version 1.1 came in February 2009 with a good list of bug fixes. Nothing revolutionary beyond the update itself, over-the-air, which at that time no other mobile operating system was capable of doing.
Android 1.5 Cupcake
On April 27, 2009, Android 1.5 Cupcake arrived and thus began the tradition of naming the older versions after a dessert, in alphabetical order. It came two months after Android 1.1 and refined the design a bit to make it more attractive. Subtle changes: transparency here, a shadow there.
A major change was the inclusion of support for virtual keyboards and widgets from other applications. It also received support for copying and pasting in the web browser, animated transitions, automatic screen rotation, and the ability to upload videos to YouTube.
Android 1.6 Donut
From the cupcake to the donut, launched on September 15, 2009. One of its most important changes is the appearance of the quick search box. Previously, the Google search widget took you to the web browser, whereas now the search was done directly in the application. Android Market also received a major facelift, while the offer of applications began to emerge.
Under the hood, the changes were even more important. The explosion of resolutions, screen sizes, and dpi that has accompanied Android since its inception began. The system would now adapt to the size and resolution of the screen, opening the door to the thousand and one configurations that have made the Android ecosystem so varied.
Other new features included the multi-language speech synthesizer, camera, and gallery improvements, which gained the ability to select multiple photos to delete at once. In terms of connectivity, it included support for CDMA networks and VPN connections.
Android 2.0 Eclair
The next Android dessert would see the light of day on October 26, 2009, just over a month after the donut. The routes to Google Maps and multi-account support and for synchronization with third-party accounts, such as Facebook, were arriving.
The interface was refined again and even more screen sizes and resolutions were supported. Live Wallpapers arrived and the camera was improved with support for flash, digital zoom, and scenes. The vast majority of included applications received their dose of improvements, such as the web browser, Google Maps, the Calendar, or the virtual keyboard, which included a dictionary and already suggested contact names.
Android Eclair received two subsequent updates. Version 2.0.1 arrived on December 4, 2009, fixing a few bugs, and version 2.1 on January 12, 2010, with another batch of improvements and API revision. Already at that time manufacturers were too excited to add their customization layer and thus the Nexus program was born: Android as Google had conceived it, materialized for the first time in the Nexus One.
Android 2.2 Froyo
In May 2010 we were moving from eclair to frozen yogurt with the arrival of Froyo. Two of its most important changes are the support for voice commands and the creation of Wi-Fi access points. Here you have the great-great-grandfather of Google Assistant since it was already possible to search, get directions, write notes, set alarms, and more actions just with your voice.
Then the push notifications arrived with the Android Cloud to Device Messaging (C2DM) service and for the first time, it was allowed to move applications to the SD card, a classic that has brought us both sorrows and joys, as it has never worked excessively well.
Froyo was updated three times with versions 2.2.1 and 2.2.2, separated only 4 days from each other, and version 2.2.3, in November 2011. These were mainly bug fixes and security patches.
Android 2.3 Gingerbread
The gingerbread man arrived on December 6, 2010, accompanied by the new Nexus S, this time created by Samsung. The system was already beginning to mature so the news was more about improving this and that. It did introduce, yes, the API for games, support for NFC, and the tradition of Easter eggs.
With Gingerbread, the interface received minor adjustments again, adopting various colored accent icons in android green. It was already prepared for screens with resolutions WXGA and higher, so you had to make sure that it would look nice in large.
The ability to select a piece of text before copying it to the clipboard was introduced (previously only the entire text could be copied) and the virtual keyboard was improved again. Note that we are talking about Android stock: the layer of several manufacturers already included the selection of text from before.
With Gingerbread came the Easter eggs. The first, a zombie painting that was displayed as an image after hitting the Android version in the options. Why Zombie? It was simply an inside joke that the developers knew Ginberbread from Zombie Gingerbread.
Some key technologies were included today such as NFC connectivity or support for multiple cameras in one device: without Gingerbread, we would not have selfies on Android. Native support for more sensors such as the gyroscope or the barometer was also included.
Gingerbread received various bug fixes, 2.3.1, 2.3.2, and 2.3.3. It was already prepared to support multiple cameras and made good use of it in version 2.3.4 with the inclusion of video calls in Hangouts. It would be updated three more times ( 2.3.5, 2.3.6, and 2.3.7 ), with minor changes and fixes before Google decided to move on to the next … dessert?
Android 3.0 Honeycomb
Is a honeycomb a dessert? According to Google, yes. Be that as it may, Google decided that Android version 3.0 was only for tablets, released on February 22, 2011. With a larger screen, it required several changes and new elements to adapt the interface.
On the one hand, came the System Bar, the grandfather of the navigation bar. It is a lower bar similar to the Windows taskbar where navigation buttons, the time, and access to quick settings were displayed.
Did someone say Quick Settings? Yes, they also came with Honeycomb, in a very basic version. With a tap on the system bar, you could see the time, date, how much battery you had left, and the connection status without having to go to the settings.
Several productivity-related enhancements were included in Honeycomb. The Recent Apps view now included a screenshot and was accessed with a button of its own, rather than a long press on the home button. The browser included tabs, incognito mode, and form filling, and several applications such as Contacts or E-mail incorporated a new two-column interface.
Under the hood, Gingerbread added hardware acceleration, support for multi-core processors, support for USB OTG, connectivity to keyboards and external pointing devices, and allowed us to encrypt all user data. Applications were then prevented from writing to secondary storage, beyond the specific folder for each application.
Honeycomb was updated no less than eight times in a one-year period. Android 3.1 (May 2011) and Android 3.2 (July 2011) reviewed, outlined, and rolled back some of the latest Honeycomb changes (for example, applications were again allowed to access SD memory for other cases), while versions 3.2.1, 3.2.2, 3.2.3, 3.2.4, 3.2.5, and 3.2.6 (February 2012) basically just fixed bugs.
Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
On October 18, 2011, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich was released, probably the biggest change to date. Several of Honeycomb’s new “for tablets” were taken over and made compatible with phones. The system adopted the Holo look that will dominate the platform until Material Design arrives.
Honeycomb’s system bar became the on-screen navigation bar, and the NFC support that came in Gingerbread was used for data transfer with Android Beam.
Many customization options were coming, with the folders on the desktop and the widget selector separated on another tab. The Roboto font is here, designed to be readable in the variety of screen sizes that Android is used on.
Android Ice Cream Sandwich will be the first to integrate the native screen capture system with the Volume- and Power combination. It will also be the one that brings us the statistics of total data usage and by application for the first time, differentiating between transfers in the foreground and in the background.
As a curiosity, Ice Cream Sandwich includes Face Unlock, officially six years before Face ID. It is not as complex, of course. And, since we are talking about the lock screen, it is now possible to launch applications directly from it.
Notifications have not received any changes for a long time, and in ICS they receive an important one: you can delete notification by sliding it (before you could only close them all at once). Similarly, if you swipe an app from the Recents view, it closes.
Successive versions 4.0.1 and 4.0.2 corrected bugs in the Galaxy Nexus and versions 4.0.3 and 4.0.4, two and five months later respectively, included various optimizations and performance improvements.
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
The nomenclature of versions begins to get complicated with Jelly Bean, the Android that goes from version 4.1 to 4.3.1. It was released on July 9, 2012. It is the birth of Google Now and thanks to Project Butter a smoother movement without the lag of the interface is achieved.
Jelly Bean has three versions of the API for developers (16, 17, and 18) and, although it does not have many important changes, it does modify practically all the components of Android to improve its operation and performance. For example, the notifications could not be ruled out only individually but could now include actions. The Quick Settings also came to the notification panel.
Jelly Bean includes several accessibility enhancements, such as a triple-tap for magnifying glass, two-finger swipe and zoom, or speaking mode and gesture navigation for visually impaired users.
In this version of Android it was possible to add widgets to the lock screen, but don’t get too fond of the function as it would disappear two years later. The interface of the camera application was also changing.
With the third revision of Jelly Bean, version 4.3 of July 2013 we received the native support for emoji, the ahead-of-its-time support for 4K resolution, support for OpenGL ES 3.0, and better storage performance when loading the fstrim command when the device is not in use.
Android 4.4 KitKat
Android KitKat is one of the most iconic versions of Android, and not just because of its catchy name (the first time Google teamed up with another company for its Android mascot ). Until not long ago, it was still one of the most widely used versions, and even today, four years later, it maintains an honorable 13.4% share of version distribution.
In KitKat a necessary refresh was made to the interface, eliminating any rest of the aesthetics “a la Tron” of previous versions. Color accents in blue disappeared to be replaced by lighter icons. Transparencies also arrived: in the notification panel, in the navigation bar, and in Google Now, which was now displayed on your desktop.
The immersive mode also came with KitKat: the status bar and the navigation bar were hidden to give the application all the prominence. One that would never disappear is the menu to show the menus that do not fit in the action bar (the button with three vertical dots): it will always be shown because Android 4.0 makes the physical menu button obsolete.
KitKat includes the new Android Runtime (ART) to replace Dalvik’s virtual machine on an experimental basis, but its use is disabled at the factory. The Accessibility API continues to grow and the appearance of various applications such as Clock, Phone, and Downloads is modified.
Android KitKat will receive updates 4.4.1 and 4.4.2 in December 2013, with minor changes and better compatibility. Two more updates, 4.4.3 and 4.4.4, would arrive in June, with bug fixes and security improvements.
Android 5.0 Lollipop
The design of Google Now expands documents, and applies to all Android: Material Design arrives, a breath of fresh air that was already becoming necessary after six years of improvising without clear rules. Material Design arrived in several Google applications, but now the ball was in the developers’ court to adapt their applications to this new design
The new look also reached the lock screen, where notifications could now be displayed in exchange for losing widgets along the way. Another change of mind from Google is regarding access to external storage (such as microSD cards), which is possible again.
ART’s experiment and its AOT app build is a success and officially replace the old Dalvik. The performance and battery improvements have their own name: Project Volta. It involves a series of changes such as power-saving mode and task scheduling to run only on WiFi to save battery life by reducing mobile data usage.
The Recent applications view now also shows tasks and it is possible to pin applications so that you cannot exit them “easily”. These recent applications also persist after restarting the phone.
Other interesting novelties are the search integrated into the Android settings, increasingly necessary as the settings do not stop growing, or the quick setting to activate the phone’s flashlight without having to install anything additional.
Lollipop 5.1, in March 2015, adds a few more new features. Anti-theft protection after factory reset (you must log in with your Google account) and official support for various SIM cards are here for the first time.
Android 6.0 Marshmallow
We reached the sixth version of Android, which was released on October 5, 2015. With Material Design already established and seven years of experience, Google already has Android on rails and of the eight subversions of Honeycomb, they go to two.
At Marshmallow the focus is to keep improving and unifying the entire system after almost a decade of development. One aspect that needed a twist was the all-or-nothing permit system that existed until then. With runtime permissions, applications can ask you for permission to use a certain function (camera, microphone …) only when they need it, and not at first.
Another growing concern is battery life. Android advances, hardware advances but batteries … not too much. Google is pulling Doze Mode, a kind of battery police that forces apps to sleep and slows the CPU when the screen is off, to extend battery life.
Support for trendy technologies is here: USB-C, 4K mode for applications, multi-window (experimental), and native support for the fingerprint reader. One that gets lost along the way is support for Miracast, which disappears.
With Marshmallow comes Direct Share, the fastest way to send content to a specific contact, and Now On Tap, that magic button that searches what is on your screen to offer you related information.
Marshmallow was only updated once, to version 6.0.1 on December 7, 2015. Added support for Unicode 7.0 and 8.0 emojis, a new navigation bar for the Pixel C, and the ability to open the camera with a Double tap on the power button.
Android 7.0 Nougat
Android Nougat follows in Marshmallow’s footsteps by refining little legacy elements that needed attention. The Android mobile market has become very demanding and Android must keep up.
Performance-wise, Nougat improves on Marshmallow’s Doze, making it effective even when the phone is on the move. In addition, the new JIT compiler reduces application installation by 75% and requires less storage.
The quick answer comes, straight from the Android notification, the VR Daydream platform, the multi-window mode, the Picture-in-Picture support (only on Android TV), and the console graphics with Vulkan 3D.
Android Nougat allows third-party apps to add buttons to Quick Settings, and it proves it with its very own easter egg. Unicode 9.0 also arrives and emojis with different skin tones, color calibration for the screen, seamless system updates, the new data saving mode, and the possibility of choosing several known languages.
Several of the novelties of Android Nougat are exclusive in a way for Pixel phones since they are officially only available with their official launcher. This is the case of shortcuts with a long press or the night light.
Nougat 7.1 arrived on October 4, 2016, including some new features such as more emojis and other changes for developers, such as support for circular icons and A / B system updates (provided that the hardware allows it, and is activated). It would receive two more updates, 7.1.1 added more emojis, sending GIFs from the keyboard and App Shortcuts; 7.1.2 included specific changes for Pixel and Nexus.
Android 8.0 Oreo
Android Oreo was released on August 21, 2017. Once again, Google needed to put some order in a system increasingly afflicted with fragmentation. Thus came Project Treble, a good promise of faster updates, at least in theory.
Project Treble is the star of Android Oreo. A new modular architecture of the system to facilitate the process of updating a terminal and, theoretically, make them take less work and, therefore, arrive before you. Of course, we probably won’t see its impact for a few years.
The Picture-in-Picture mode is no longer exclusive to Android TV and also reaches phones, and the round icons of Nougat can now take any form: adaptive icons arrive. The notifications as many changes are likely to lead to notification channels, logos notification, the multimedia redesigned notifications, and the ability to mute notifications.
Another important novelty is the form autocomplete API, which you can also use in applications and not only in web pages. There’s also time to worry about performance: Oreo gets tough on background apps, reducing battery and data usage.
Android Oreo 8.1 arrived four months later, in December 2017, with a few subtle visual changes and, of course, the correct placement of the cheese in the hamburger emoji. Android Oreo 8.1 will be unfolded in a special GO version, for mobiles with little RAM.
Android 9.0 Pie
The ninth version of Android is “the cake”, or the cake, depending on how you want to translate it. As on previous occasions, the final version was released in August 2018 after five beta versions, although in this case there was no minor revision. There is only one Android Pie: version 9.0.
During the betas, we speculated that the P was for “privacy”, as Google introduced several changes to the system that limited apps to use the background camera, but the changes were more focused on modernizing Android. Thus came the brightness and the intelligent battery, the app actions, and the slices, for which the system tried to anticipate what we needed by learning from our usage guidelines.
The well – being digital is another of the great innovations, a number of tools that can control the use you make of the mobile although its use has not yet been extended to all phones Pie. Finally, the navigation by gestures arrived officially, which forever changed the navigation bar, simplifying it with a single button in most cases.
As for the Easter egg in this version, the truth is that even today we don’t really know what it is. It is a kind of drawing application, although the way of drawing is a bit psychedelic. The intention is what counts?
10 years following the start of the OS, we got another key Android history milestone. Google unveiled the primary official programmer preview of Google android Q, on March 13, 2019. On August 22, 2019, Google released an important refresh of the Android os model. That included a brand new logo and, moreover, your decision to ditch the standard dessert term for another version. Therefore, Android Q can be officially known only as Android 10. It absolutely was officially unveiled on September 3, 2019, for Google’s Pixel equipment.
Just as usual with any sort of new Google android release, Android 10 had numerous new product features and improvements, in addition to a number of newer APIs. That included a program for the hurry of then-approaching foldable mobile phones. Android 10 even presented a system-wide dark function, alongside new gesture-navigation handles, a more useful sharing menu, clever reply product features for all messaging apps, and extra restrain over app-structured permissions.
On February 18, Google launched the 1st Programmer Preview for Google android 11. After many more general public betas had been released, the ultimate version of Google android 11 premiered on September 8, 2020.
Android 11 is here with a lot of fresh features. Which includes a fresh Conversations notification category where all your chats from numerous applications are gathered in a single place. You additionally have the choice to save lots of every notification which has made an appearance on your own phone previously 24 times. A whole new feature enables you to track record your phone’s display, filled with audio, without requiring a third-get together app. There’s likewise a new portion of Android 11 focused on controlling smart house devices.
Pixel phones, however, are receiving an Android 11 unique feature. It takes advantage of AI and equipment learning to restrain which applications turn up in your phone’s dock.
Google mounted its traditional statue to celebrate Android os 11’s launch, but in addition, it released a great AR variant of the statue for all Google android ARCore mobile phones. It even features a number of Easter Eggs, this includes a recipe for making reddish colored velvet cake. That equally is the interior codename for the Operating system at Google.
The newest (around this writing) version of the OS, Android 12, first launched on February 18 in a Programmer Preview version. The interior code company name for the Operating system is certainly reported to come to be “Snowcone.”
Currently, the number of confirmed features during Android 12 includes a simpler way to share with you your Wi-Fi experience of someone else. Equally, you could add textual content, Emoji, and stickers to your screenshots if they’re undertaken on a Pixel product. There’s also a program for the heightened image data format AVIF. There are also some advancements to notifications, and also a way to incorporate key OS improvements via the Google Enjoy Store. Additionally, a brand new one-handed function has been increased that puts switches and icons underneath 50 % of the television screen for easier get with one hand.
Additional rumored features that could be put into Android 12 are the capability to manage several applications as an individual job, called App Pairs. We might finally be obtaining scrolling screenshot assist because of this new Operating system update, plus a method to launch programs with a double-tap of the phone’s back.
So much, there were three Programmer Previews of Google android 12. The 1st general public beta for the Operating system update is likely to launch within the Google I/O programmer conference on, May 18. You will see four betas introduced prior to the final edition is launched, which ought to manifest sometime in August or early on September 2021.
The continuing future of Android
Android has arrived quite a distance since its humble beginnings because of the item of a tiny start-up. Today, it’s the leading mobile phone operating system worldwide with around 75% market show.
The Mountain Watch company continues to be extremely focused on furthering the advancement of Google android, though you can find signs its long-term plans could extend further more afield.
Google has been doing work for the previous few quite a few years on phases of a great all-new Operating system called Fuchsia that could support from smartphones to tablets, and also laptop and desktop PCs. In 2019, Google launched an advancement board web page for Fuchsia. On the other hand, we have been still quite definite at night about Google’s plans because of this Operating system. It continues to be observed if Fuchsia will possibly hit the popular or end up being resigned to the Google Graveyard alongside thus a great many other projects.
For the time being, Android continues to go from strength to strength – though you can find challenges coming.
Android’s chequered record with upgrade rollouts has increased because of initiatives like Job Treble and Job Mainline, but fragmentation continues to be a problem. Likewise, while firms like Samsung and OnePlus have got focused on offering 3 years of Operating system upgrades and protection updates for most of their cell phones, there are plenty of OEMs that yet expire support a couple of years and even just 12 many months.
Google’s flagbearer for Android os – the Google Pixel series – continues to divide critics and people, but the serious concern could be the increasingly experimental form points from other mobile makers – form points that extend the boundaries of Android’s present-day capabilities. Foldable mobile phones and dual-screen mobile phones might be a nascent category with luxurious costs and niche charm, but they’ve without a doubt uncovered the weaknesses of Android os as an Operating system for larger television screen sizes.
Whilst it may before long have to adapt yet again for this new wave of hardware design, it might look reasonable to predict that Android will continue steadily to dominate the cellular OS industry. The OS will be installed on mobile phones which can be sold at under $100, entirely to high-priced flagship units that cost above $1,000. That flexibility, along with yearly improvements, should ensure Google android will remain the best choice in this trade for decades to come.