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Android History: From Its Humble Beginnings to Global Dominance

Android History
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Android is a leading mobile operating system based on Linux kernel developed for smartphones and tablets by Google. The invention of Android was necessary because of the emergence of smartphones. With people starting to gradually shift from feature phones to smartphones, a new operating system to match with the devices was the need of the hour. Google launched Android in 2007 followed by Android 1.0 in September 2008. Google made significant improvements to each subsequent version and has pushed multiple updates. The latest version is Android 12, which ships with all major smartphones. Android is tagged as open-source and hence third-party developers can create and distribute their own apps. Android has occupied a huge market share because of the absence of any credible competitors. Even though iOS exists, people are most focused to Android because devices are cheaper when compared with Apple iPhones. Moreover, Apple doesn’t distribute iOS source code to third-party smartphone manufacturers. In this article, we will examine the Android History in detail with key features, improvements that are added in each version.

Android 1.0

Android 1.0 was launched in 2008 without any specific codename. Google integrated Gmail, Maps, Calendar, and YouTube into the operating system. Google launched Android 1.1 in February 2009 with new features and improvements.

Android 1.0

Android 1.5 Cupcake

Android 1.5 CupcakeGoogle released Android 1.5 Cupcake in early 2009 and is touted to be the first Android version with a codename. The ritual of releasing Android version with a specific codename was born here.  Android 1.5 Cupcake was introduced with several enhancements including the first on-screen keyboard. The inclusion of an on-screen keyboard was necessary because smartphones moved away from the outdated physical keyboard. Android Cupcake also added support for third-party app widgets and default video recording.

Android 1.6 Donut

Android 1.6 Donut was launched in fall 2009 with new features. This includes the ability of the operating platform to function on a wide range of screen sizes and resolutions. This was considered important because it’s critical for the devices when they evolve rapidly. Android Donut also added CDMA network support for mobile service providers like Verizon.

Android 2.0/2.1 Eclair

Android 2.0 Eclair was launched 6 weeks after the release of Android Donut in October 2009. Tech major Verizon aggressively promoted Eclair version, which synced well with Motorola Droid Phone. The main highlight of the Android Eclair is the inclusion of voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation and real-time traffic info. Eclair also introduced live wallpapers and the first speech-to-text functionality. The pinch-to-zoom capability changed the way people communicated with Android devices. As of this writing, we all make use of the pinch-to-zoom function while working with smartphones on a daily basis.

Android 2.2 Froyo

Android 2.1 FroyoAndroid 2.2 Froyo was launched within four months after the arrival of Android 2.1 Eclair. Android 2.2 Froyo was shipped with several performance improvements. Google included a standard dock at the bottom of the home screen. The voice action functionality enabled people to use basic functions such as getting directions and making notes just by tapping an icon and providing the relevant command. Froyo also added Flash support to Android’s native web browser because Flash was used on a large scale by users. Google also gained importance during that time because Apple was against integrating Flash support. With Flash support, people were able to access the web without any black holes.

Android 2.3 Gingerbread

Android 2.3 Gingerbread was the major release in 2010 and it created ripples in the smartphone industry via its true visual identity. The Bright Green Android mascot has become an integral part of the appearance of the operating system. The UI was flowered with Black and Green with a unique distinctive design.

Android 3.0 to 3.2 Honeycomb

Android Honeycomb was launched in February 2011 with expectations. Android 3.0 was an exclusive tablet-only release to satisfy Motorola Xoom. The Android 3.1 and 3.2 flights were also based on Honeycomb with the availability of tablet-only versions. Google hired Matias Duarte as Androi8d design chief to refresh Android version. He introduced a visually appealing UI for Android, which was the deal breaker. The unique holographic design paved way for making the useful tablet’s real estate. The Android version, which we are working today is based on the basic principles of the ideal generated from Honeycomb. Android Honeycomb employed an on-screen button for navigation commands, an overflow-menu button, and a card-like UI.

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich

Android 4.0 was released in October 2011 and was code-named Ice Cream Sandwich. The Android Ice Cream Sandwich was shipped with a modern design with refined visual concepts. Google developed Android version is such a way to reunite tablets and smartphones with a single and unified UI vision. The edition used Blue color as a system-wide highlight and borrowed on-screen buttons and a car-like appearance for app switching. Android 4.0 introduced notifications and recent apps swiping. Google brought in a common design framework named Holo throughout Android 4.0 ice Cream Sandwich operating system.

Android 4.1/4.2/4.3 Jelly Bean

Android Jelly Bean comprises 4.1, 4.2, and 4.3 versions with polished UI and was released in July 2012. The Android Jelly bean attracted large number of people because of its adoption by major smartphone companies. Android Jelly Bean introduced Google Now, which turned out to be a predictive intelligence utility. The version added expandable/interactive notifications, an expanded voice search system, and an advanced search module with a special focus on card-based results. Google also added Multiuser support and the first look of the Android’s Quick Settings panel.

Android 4.4 KitKat

Android 4.4 KitKat was announced in October 2013 with significant improvements. This version shipped with lighter backgrounds and added neutral highlights with a transparent status bar and white icons. If you are wondering when “OK, Google” was first launched, then it’s with Android 4.4 KitKat. The release was shipped with a full panel of the home screen for the services.

Android 5.0 Lollipop

Android 5.0 Lollipop was announced in November 2014 after one year haul with Android 4.4 KitKat. The version saw Material Design standard, which provided a uniform look and feel across all Android UI, apps, and other Google products and services. The card-based concept became a core UI pattern. Android Lollipop introduced hands-free voice control via OK, google command with support for multiple users on smartphones. The version also added a priority mode for enhanced notification management. The version also had several bugs and Google had a tough time to fix all of them.

Android 6.0 Marshmallow

Google announced Android 6.0 Marshmallow in October 2015 and was found to be a fairly minor update. The catch is that users were under the impression that a new version is getting released each year and hence a new code name. Android 6.0 Marshmallow added a unique screen-search functionality named Now On Tap. The version also added granular app permissions, fingerprint, and USB-C support respectively. Google Doze feature was introduced in Android Marshmallow, which enhances the battery life of smartphones.

Android 7.0 Nougat

Google pushed Android Nougat in August 2016 with a native split-screen mode, a refreshed notifications organization module, and a Data Saver functionality. The version added Alt+Tab type shortcut, which can be used for snapping between apps. Android Nougat also introduced Google Assistant, which was launched during the sidelines of the Google Pixel smartphone. Google conducted a poll before the launch of Android Nougat and asked for feedback regarding the name that needs to be given. Many people in Kerala advised Google to give the name Neyyappam, which is a famous sweet dish in Kerala. Kerala Government also campaigned hard to get the name Neyyappam but the efforts turned out to be futile. If you are unaware, Kerala is the only state to feature in New York Times best places to visit in 2023 list.

Android 8.0 Oreo

Android Oreo was launched in August 2017 with a bunch of new features such as a native picture-in-picture mode, a notification snoozing option, and app notification channels. Google introduced Project treble, which is an ambitious effort for the creation of a modular base for Android’s code.

Android 9.0 Pie

Android 9.0 Pie was launched in August 2018 with a hybrid gesture/button navigation system and a small Back button. The version also shipped with a universal suggested-reply system for notifications, a refined dashboard of Digital Wellbeing controls, and intelligent power and screen brightness management. Google also introduced improvements to Wi-Fi hotspots management module, Battery Saver mode advancements in addition to several privacy and security improvements.

Android 10

Google released Android 10 in September 2019 without a traditional dessert moniker name. The version introduced refreshed interface for Android gestures and a swipe-enabled approach to system navigation. The platform also shipped with an updated permissions system with granular control over location data. The system-wide dark theme, a new distraction-limiting Focus Mode, and an on-demand live captioning system for entertainment.

Android 11

Android 11 was launched towards the beginning of September 2020 with significant features and improvements. The main focus of Android 11 was privacy with an expanded permissions system with an option to grab apps location, camera, and microphone permissions. The app will not be able to detect user’s location in the background. Moreover, the version also added a feature to revoke permissions from any apps. Google also enhanced conversations module, a system-level menu of connected-device controls, a refined media player, a refreshed Notification History section, and native screen-recording functionality.

Android 12

Android 12Google launched Android 12 in September 2021 and was pushed to Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro devices via OTA. Android 12 is built on top of the new Material Design standard codenamed Material You. The main highlight of Material You is that it brings a completely different look and feel to the entire Android experience and not limited to system-level elements. Google designed Android 12 to sync with both smartphones and Google Services including Chromebooks, Smart Displays, and wearables. AAndroid 12 brought refreshed Android widget system with improvements in terms of performance, security, and privacy. The way the app consumed data has changed with Android 12.

Android 13

Android 13 was officially rolled out in August 2022 with substantial changes and modifications. Android 13 brings in a new interface for tablets, and foldable phones with special focus on smartphones. Apart from app optimizations, Android 13 includes new split-screen mode for easy multitasking. The operating platform also includes shared-surface widgets and screensavers. Android 13 also comes with an expanded clipboard system, which enables users to view and edit text as they copy. You will find a native QR code scanning functionality within the Android Quick Settings area.

Android mobile operating system: Pros

The main advantage of Android is that the operating system is open-source. This means developers can create and distribute their own apps. The Google Play Store is the main stop shop for all Android apps. Android can be easily customized ranging from home screen layout modification to installation of custom ROMs. Android is widely used by people across the world and the mobile operating system shares a huge user base. Moreover, you will find several devices pre-loaded with Android. You should note that Android is developed by Google and hence the mobile operating system tightly integrates Gmail, Google Maps, Google Assistant, and other Pixel manufacturer services. Last but not the least, Android smartphones are cheaper than iOS devices.

Android mobile operating system: Cons

The main problem with Android operating system is that it will be difficult for developers to ensure compatibility of apps because it’s virtually difficult to test them on all devices. This could lead to potential issues and bugs. Android is very much vulnerable to viruses, malware, and hacking when compared with iOS. That’s why there are plenty of anti-virus apps on the Google Play Store. The update schedule for devices varies because of Android’s market share. That’s why manufacturers are adopting phased rollout of updates via OTA. The main disadvantage of Android is the inclusion of Bloatware, which are hard to remove. You will find several pre-loaded apps depending on the manufacturer and this eats up storage space. Android devices consume more battery because of the hardware design and customization. The devices with earlier Android versions, which we discussed here consumed plenty of battery. Google has improved the system by adopting several saver modules and lightweight apps.

Android History Conclusion

Android is an excellent and flexible mobile operating system. You will find several new features and customization options. Even chronic iOS fans are now migrating to Android because of the cost factor. You should also note that battery integrated with Android smartphones causes fire because of overheating, overcharging, short-circuiting, and much more. However, fire incidents are very rare because of the hardware changes made by the manufacturers. To avoid dangerous situations, you should always purchase smartphones manufactured by companies with good reputations. The smartphones sourced from Chinese e-commerce marketplaces are not reliable. You should keep in mind factors such as display, memory, storage, and much more while purchasing smartphones. We will cover these aspects in detail in an upcoming article. We hope Android History article helped you to learn about the various Android versions in detail.

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