Dec 17, 2018
Android is the most popular mobile OS right now with over 85% of marketshare. Android phone was officially launched first time about 10 years ago. Google’s decision to make Android an open source OS made it highly popular with third-party smartphone makers and among the public. Soon after the launch of Android 1.0, it has become the most popular OS in the world.
That is why there has been a high demand for Android apps and Android developer in the world market. Now People use Android smartphones and many Android apps on daily basis to do so much of their everyday work.
Founding of Android
In Oct, 2003, the company Android Inc. was founded in California. In 2005, Android was acquired by Google. The decision was made to use Linux as the basis for the Android OS and Android was offered to third-party mobile phone manufacturers for free.
Launching Android 1.0
Right after the launch of Android first version, there has been the birth and the rise of Android App Development Company which was required to build Android apps. In 2007 when Apple launched the first iPhone, Google too started to reveal its plan to launch Android as a mobile platform. It used the formation of Open Handset Alliance which included phone makers like HTC and Motorola. Google said that their vision is to launch a powerful platform that will power thousands of different phone models.
Google launched the beta version of Android 1.0 for developers on Nov 5, 2007. In Sept, 2008, the very first Android smartphone was announced known as HTC Dream. Google has integrated many of its other products and services in it including Google Maps, YouTube, Google search engine and an HTML browser. It also had the first version of the App Store that would have dozens of unique Android applications.
Naming Android on Sweet Code Names
While most Android releases have candy or dessert-style code names, the first version of OS i.e. 1.0 that was publicly released in Sept, 2008 did not have a code name at all. Android 1.1 was released in Feb 2009 and it didn’t have a public code name but it has an internal name “Petit Four” which was a French dessert.
A few months later in April 2009, Android 1.5 was launched with a public code name “Cupcake”. Google didn’t mention any specific reason for using such names but when Google released Android 4.4 KitKat, it said, “Since these devices make our lives so sweet, each Android version is named after a dessert.”
Different Versions of Android Launched by Google
Android 1.5 Cupcake (April 2009)
The first official public code name for Android appeared in version 1.5 Cupcake that was released in April 2009. It added many new features and improvements compared to the first two public versions, including the ability to upload videos to YouTube, a way for a phone’s screen display to automatically rotate to the right positions, and support for third-party keyboards. Some of the phones that were released with Cupcake installed out of the box included the first Samsung Galaxy phone, along with the HTC Hero.
Android 1.6 Donut (Sept 2009)
Google quickly launched Android 1.6 Donut in Sept 2009. It has support for carriers that used CDMA based networks. This made Android phones to be sold by all carriers around the world. It also had features like Quick Search Box, quick toggling between the Camera, Camcorder and Gallery to streamline the media-capture experience. Donut also introduced the Power Control Widget for managing Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth etc. One of the phones that was sold with Donut installed was Dell Streak which had a 5-inch screen which was huge for that days.
Android 2.0-2.1 Éclair (Oct 2009)
In Oct. 2009, about a year after the launch of Android 1.0, Google released version 2.0 of the OS, with the official code name Éclair. This version had support for adding text-to-speech and it also introduced live wallpapers, multiple account support and Google Maps navigation, among many other new features and improvements. Motorola Droid was the first phone which included Android 2.0 out of the box. This was also the first Android based phone which was sold by Verizon Wireless.
Android 2.2 Froyo (May 2010)
Android 2.2 Froyo which was short for Frozen Yogurt was launched in May 2010. Smartphones which have installed Froyo, could take many new features like Wi-Fi mobile hotspot functions, flash support, push notifications via Android Cloud to Device Messaging service etc. The first smartphone Google’s Nexus One was launched with Android 2.1 out of the box earlier in 2010 but it quickly got an update to Froyo later that year. This was a new beginning for Google as it started working more closer with hardware manufacturer HTC to use pure Android.
Android 2.3 Gingerbread (Sept 2010)
Android 2.3 Gingerbread was launched in Sept 2010. It is right now the oldest version of the OS that Google supports. But in Sept 2017, Google said that Gingerbread is used only in 0.6 percent of all Android devices right now. This OS received a user interface refresh under Gingerbread. It also added support for using near field communication (NFC) functions for smartphones which had the required hardware available. Nexus 5 was the first phone which had Gingerbread and NFC hardware. It was co-developed by Google and Samsung. Gingerbread is also credited to start the selfie trend as it had support for multiple cameras and video chat support within Google Talk.
Android 3.0 Honeycomb (Feb 2011)
This Android version is an odd one from all others as it was released by Google for installation only on tablets and other mobile devices with larger displays than current smartphones. First time it was launched in Feb 2011 along with the first Motorola Xoom Tablet and had features like redesigned UI specifically for large screens, along with a notification bar at the bottom of the tablet’s display. Honeycomb was launched specially with features that could not be handled by smaller displays. It was also in answer to the 2010 release of Apple’s iPad. But later on Honeycomb version was not needed as Google migrated most of its features to its next major 4.0 version i.e. ice Cream Sandwich.
Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (Oct 2011)
Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android was released in Oct 2011. It had many new features for users. It combined many of the features of the tablet only Honeycomb version with the smartphone oriented Gingerbread. It had a favorites tray on the home screen along with the first support for unlocking a phone by using its camera by taking a picture of its owner’s face. This biometric sign in support has been evolving since then and it is now very popular among users. Google says right now only 0.7 percent of all Android devices are running some version of Android 4.0 which is slightly better than Gingerbread. This version has support for all on-screen buttons, browser tabs, swipe gestures to dismiss notifications and ability to monitor your data usage over mobile and Wi-Fi, which are quite useful features.
Android 4.1-4.3 Jelly Bean (June 2012)
Android Jelly Bean version was launched in June 2012 first time with the launch of Android 4.1. After that Google quickly released versions 4.2 and 4.3 both under the Jelly Bean name, in Oct 2012 and July 2013 respectively. These OS included new features like new notification features that showed more content or action buttons and support for Google’s Chrome web browser which was included in Android 4.2. Google Now was now part of Search and “Project Butter” was started to speed up animations and improve Android’s touch sensitivity. In Google I/O in 2012, Google distributed Nexus 7 tablets with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean as a gift. Still so many people are using Android Jelly Bean powered smartphones i.e. it is being used in 6.9% of all Android devices right now.
Android 4.4 KitKat (Sept 2013)
Android 4.4 KitKat was officially launched in Sept 2013 although the company released hints at the Google I/O conference that year as well as at other places that the codename for Android 4.4 would be “Key Lime Pie”. Google director didn’t like this name for Android 4.4 that’s why he contacted Nestle, the creators of KitKat bar and asked them if they could use this name for Android 4.4. Nestle agreed and they co-branded with Google and actually launched a special KitKat bar in the shape of Android robot mascot. This was the first time when the name of Android 4.4 is taken from a previously trademarked name. Google repeated this experiment again when it used the name of Oreo for its Android OS version name later.
KitKat didn’t have many new feature but it did have one great thing that helped a lot to expand the overall Android market i.e. it was optimized to run on smartphones that had as little as 512 MB of RAM. This leads to phone makers installing this version of Android OS on much cheaper handsets. Google Nexus 5 Smartphone was the first one to be launched with Android 4.4. Although the KitKat was launched about 5 years ago but still there are many devices which are using it now also. As per Google, about 15 percent of all the Android devices that are being used, are running on Android KitKat.
Android 5.0 Lollipop (2014)
Android 5.0 Lollipop was first launched in the fall of 2014. It had many improvements in the area of overall look of the OS. It was the first version of Android which used Google’s new Material Design Language, which made use of lighting and shadow effects, among other things, to simulate a paper-like look for the Android user interface. This UI of Lollipop had some more changes like a revamped navigation bar, rich notifications for the lockscreen and many more. The Android 5.1 update brought few more changes like official support for dual-SIM, HD voice calls and device protection to keep thieves keep out of your phone even after a factory reset. Google’s Nexus 6 smartphone and Nexus 9 tablet were the first devices to have a Lollipop installed. Right now, Android 5.0 is being used by about 29% of all the Android devices in use today.
Android 6.0 Marshmallow (2015)
Android 6.0 Marshmallow was released in the fall of 2015. It has many improvements regarding the security and app permissions. It also included features like new vertically scrolling app drawer, along with Google Now on Tap, native support for fingerprint biometric unlocking of a smartphone, USB Type-C support, the introduction of Android Pay and more. Google’s Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X smartphones and Pixel C tablets were first devices which were based on Marshmallow. Right now Marshmallow OS is being used in about 32 percent of all Android based devices in the world and it is right now the most used Android OS.
Android 7.0 Nougat (2016)
Android 7.0 Nougat operating system was launched in the fall of 2016. Android N as it was earlier called or Android Nougat had many new features like better multi-tasking functions for the growing number of smartphones that have large displays such as split screen mode, also quick switching between apps. Google had made many big changes internally too like switching to a new JIT compiler to speed up apps, supported the Vulkan API for faster 3D rendering and enabled OEMs to support its DayDream Virtual Reality platform. With this release, Google also made a big push into the premium smartphone market. Google’s own smartphones – The Pixel and Pixel XL along with LG V20 were launched with Nougat pre-installed. Android Nougat is currently being used by around 15 % of all the Android devices and this percentage will increase in the coming months.
Android 8.0 Oreo (March 2017)
Google officially announced the release of the first developer preview of Android O or Android 8.0 in March 2017. Google gave the hint about it on its VP’s Twitter account in Feb 2017. That was the solid hint that Oreo, the popular chocolate and cream cookie would be the official code name for Android 8.0. In August, Google confirmed that Oreo would be the public name for Android 8.0. After Android KitKat, it was second time that Google used a trademarked name for Android as Oreo is owned by Nabisco. Google showed off the Android Oreo mascot statue for the first time in a press event in New York City, rather than showing the statue first at its Googleplex headquarters which was the trend earlier.
Android Oreo had many useful features like it had lots of visual changes to the Settings menu, along with native support for picture-in-picture mode, new autofill APIs for better management of passwords and fill data, notification channels, and more. We can download Android Oreo via Google’s Android Open Source Project and it is also available as as update for Google’s older Nexus and Pixel devices which are supported. Android Oreo also comes with Google’s Pixel 2 and other new smartphones in the market.
Android 9.0 Pie (March 2018)
Google launched the first developer preview of the Android 9.0 in March 2018. In August, Google officially launched the final version of Android 9.0 and named it Pie. It has many new features and changes. One feature is the replacement of traditional navigation buttons by one elongated button in the center which is new home button. Now swiping up from that button brings up overview with your most recently used apps, a search bar and 5 app suggestions at the bottom. When you swipe left then you will see all your recently opened apps. You can also drag the home button to the right to quickly scroll your apps. Android 9.0 Pie also has some features to help extend your smartphone’s battery life and to predict which apps you will use now and which apps you won’t use soon, by using in-device machine learning technology. Pie also has a feature called Shush which automatically puts your phone in Do Not Disturb mode when you turn your phone screen down on a flat surface. It also has slices which provides a smaller version of an installed app inside Google Search and offers some app functions without opening the full application. Android 9.0 Pie is available on Google’s Pixel Phones and soon other Android smartphone manufacturers will also start using it as an Android platform in their devices.
How Android’s Future Looks Like?
Android was first developed as a product of a small startup and after it was acquired by Google, it has come a long way. Now it has become the leading mobile operating system in the world. Google is highly committed to continue work on the development and improvement of Android and it is even trying to extend the mobile and tablet OS to other devices like AndroidTV, AndroidAuto and WearOS. Android’s worldwide smartphone market share is currently at around 85% with iOS at distant second at 14%. All other mobile operating systems are way behind. In May 2017, during Google annual I/O, Google said that there are now over 2 billion active devices running some version of the Android OS.
One issue for Android device owners is the updating of the OS with the latest security patches. Google’s supported Nexus and Pixel devices consistently receive regular monthly security updates and the latest version of the OS but third party phones have some issues with new security patches although Google is trying to make it easier for phone makers to update their devices faster. Let’s see how and when it will be highly successful in this effort.
From the launch of its first version in 2008 till now, Android has evolved, improved and transformed a lot and with 85% marketshare, it is currently dominating the Smartphone market. Apple iPhones are highly costly as compared to Google Android phones therefore their demand will grow at higher rate in years to come. Android OS is being installed on very cheap phones as well as very expensive premium phones like Samsung Galaxy S8. Hence it offers lots of flexibility to Android OS users and the device manufacturers. Google consistently releases its yearly updates which will make sure that Android will remain the leader in this field for the years to come. One thing which has to be seen is that whether Google will continue to use sweet candy and dessert names for its official code names for future versions of Android or it will switch over to some other category. This will be interesting to see.