History of Android

Android sure has come a long way. From Android 1.6 to Android 6.0, here’s a brief lesson in History of Android.

The History of Android is quite interesting. Android was founded in Palo Alto, California in October 2003 by Andy Rubin,  Rich Miner, Nick Sears, and Chris White to develop, in Rubin’s words, “smarter mobile devices that are more aware of its owner’s location and preferences”. Their first intention was to develop a complex OS for digital cameras, but, as we all know today, that didn’t happen, mainly because the market of the devices is not large enough. Instead, the made an OS for mobile devices, to compete with Symbian and Microsoft Windows Mobile.

Google bought Android Inc. on August 17, 2007. Not much was known about Android by that time. When bought, must employees stayed at Android Inc.

Android 1.5 Cupcake

Although this may not be the very first version of Android, it sure is one of the more important releases.

On April 27, 2009, the Android 1.5 update was released, based on Linux kernel 2.6.27. This was the first release to officially use a codename based on a dessert item (“Cupcake”), a theme which would be used for all releases henceforth. The update included several new features and UI amendments.

It was the first version of Android to support third-party keyboards with word predictions. Also, with Cupcake, widgets were made available. You could also record and playback video in MPEG-4 and 3GP formats. Cupcake also included animations while navigating through the UI, copy and paste, Upload to YouTube, Auto-Rotation option and many more options were made available.

Android 1.6 Donut

Android Donut was released on September 15. 2009.

It may not be as much of an upgrade like Android Cupcake, but it did add some new features, like a new camera interface, much better search in the Play Store. You also got a battery usage indicator, telling you which app was draining your battery the most. One of the biggest highlights of Android Donut was the new and improved multi-lingual text-to-speech engine, called Pico. It allowed any Android application to “speak” a string of text with an accent that matches the language. The engine supported the following languages: English (American and British accents), French, Italian, German and Spanish.

Android 2.0 Éclair

Android 2.0 adds many new features. For example, you could add multiple accounts. Some other features are a re-designed camera app, now with flash support, digital zoom, multiple scene selection and so on. The keyboard also got an overhaul, now supporting multi-touch, better predictions, a better look… The stock Android browser also got some upgrades and features. Also, Bluetooth 2.1 got support, and many more new features.

Android 2.2 Froyo

Android Froyo 2.2 is another major upgrade to Android. First of all – widgets. You got much more widgets out of the box, like the home screen tips. You also got a “dock”, making all of your basic app shortcuts (App Drawer, Phone and browser) available on all 5 home screens. The camera app also got some more updates, it now supported the LED flash for the camcorder. And, again, the UI of the camera app improved. Wi-Fi hotspot was also now available. Certain devices like the Nexus One can be turned into a portable Wi-Fi hotspot that can be shared with up to 8 devices. The keyboard now supported multiple languages. Apart from all this, you also got the usual security and performance upgrades. It was now possible to lock and erase your device remotely.

Android 2.3 Gingerbread

Android 2.3 Gingerbread was more of a visual overhaul. It had a more simpler UI, better and smoother performance. It now also supported large screens.
The keyboard also saw a major improvement. It had a better look, better text predictions, better spelling corrections, and a much more simpler copy-paste process, just by tapping and holding the word. Android 2.3 Gingerbread was also a huge landmark for gaming, as it took better usage of the sensors, CPU, audio output… It also featured a landmark in power and RAM management, as it didn’t keep the device awake as it usually did. Power management in the settings menu was also improved.

Android 3.0 Honeycomb

Android 3.0 Honeycomb was a huge improvement, but not for phones, no. It was optimized to run only on tablets. It saw a major UI redesign. It added a System Bar – basically the notification bar, only that it’s available throughout  the UI, making it available everywhere. Because it is now optimized for tablets, many of the system apps had to be redesigned, or at least modified to a certain level. That includes the home launcher, camera app, keyboard, browser, gallery, contacts…
“Under the hood” however, not a lot of has changed. Minor 2D and 3D performance upgrades were made. The only mayor thing is that it now supported multi-core CPUs. Throughout later versions of Honeycomb, it saw some minor fixes and improvements.

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich

Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich was announced at Google I/O 2011. The final launch event was originally planned on 11th of October, 2011. However, out of respect of Steve Jobs’s death, it was postponed to 19th of October, 2011. to It was one of the biggest overhauls to Android in it’s history. First of all, it brought the “Holo” theme from Honeycomb to phones, but it had to be scaled down a bit. A lot of apps also saw a redesign, as everything was in “Holo” style. It also saw major improvement under the hood, as multi-tasking was much easier now. You also now got the “Face Unlock”, as you were now able to unlock your phone “just by looking at you front camera”.

Android 4.1 – 4.3 Jelly Bean

Android 4.1  was unveiled at Google’s I/O developer conference in June 2012, focusing on performance improvements designed to give the operating system a smoother and more responsive feel, improvements to the notification system allowing for “expandable” notifications with action buttons, and other internal changes. The goal of Android 4.1 was to give the users a “butter-smooth” experiance, as Jelly Bean mainly focused on performance. For example, when touch is detected, the CPU kicks at 100%, to minimize lag. It was also optimized to run at 60fps on capable devices. Another improvement was Google’s persolan assistant, Google Now.

Android 4.2 brings some more UI features, like the ability to add widgets and quick settings on the lock screen. tablets also got screensaver, or “Daydream”. It also featured multi-user support.

Android 4.3 has also brought some new features, like “App ops”, a fine-grained application permissions control system. Perhaps one of the most important things was the support for 4K screen resolution, and some other, low.level changes.

Android 4.4 KitKat

KitKat was announced on the 3rd of September, 2013. On the very beginning, it was suppose to be called “Key Lime Pie”(KLP). But, since “not a lot of people know the taste of Key Lime Pie”, the name was changed to the more popular KitKat. KitKat was not much of a major upgrade, but it did add some new features. For example, new animations throughout the UI, and wireless printing. It was also more optimized for low-end devices, especially those with 512 MB of RAM. The minimum it 340 MB of RAM. One of the most important features was the “OK, Goggle”, activating Google Now remotely, just by voice.

Android 5.0 Lollipop

Lollipop was also a huge overhaul to Android, both in performance and UI. First of all, it features the “material design”. Itwas unveiled under the codename “Android L” on June 25, 2014, during Google I/O. It became available as official over-the-air (OTA) updates on November 12, 2014, for select devices that run distributions of Android serviced by Google, including Nexus and Google Play edition devices.

Design wise, the look and feel of the UI was completely changed. And, there are animations basically everywhere. It also saw major improvements “under the hood”. Almost any device running Android Lollipop can run it at 60fps. It also saw major improvements regarding battery consumption. Since phones are getting more and more powerful, support for 64-bit CPUs was enabled.

If you’d like to see the whole “change list” in Android throughout time, click here.


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