What an extended, unusual journey it has been.
From its inaugural launch to at present, Android has remodeled visually, conceptually and functionally — time and time once more. Google’s cell working system could have began out scrappy, however holy moly, has it ever advanced.
Here is a fast-paced tour of Android model highlights from the platform’s beginning to current. (Be at liberty to skip forward when you simply need to see what’s new in Android 11 or Android 12.)
Android variations 1.zero to 1.1: The early days
Android made its official public debut in 2008 with Android 1.zero — a launch so historic it did not actually have a cute codename.
Issues have been fairly fundamental again then, however the software program did embody a set of early Google apps like Gmail, Maps, Calendar, and YouTube, all of which have been built-in into the working system — a stark distinction to the extra simply updatable standalone-app mannequin employed at present.
Android model 1.5: Cupcake
With early 2009’s Android 1.5 Cupcake launch, the custom of Android model names was born. Cupcake launched quite a few refinements to the Android interface, together with the primary on-screen keyboard — one thing that’d be mandatory as telephones moved away from the once-ubiquitous bodily keyboard mannequin.
Cupcake additionally introduced concerning the framework for third-party app widgets, which might shortly flip into one in every of Android’s most distinguishing parts, and it supplied the platform’s first-ever possibility for video recording.
Android model 1.6: Donut
Android 1.6, Donut, rolled into the world within the fall of 2009. Donut stuffed in some essential holes in Android’s middle, together with the power for the OS to function on a wide range of completely different display screen sizes and resolutions — an element that’d be important within the years to come back. It additionally added assist for CDMA networks like Verizon, which might play a key function in Android’s imminent explosion.
Android variations 2.zero to 2.1: Eclair
Maintaining the breakneck launch tempo of Android’s early years, Android 2.zero Eclair, emerged simply six weeks after Donut; its “point-one” replace, additionally known as Eclair, got here out a pair months later. Eclair was the primary Android launch to enter mainstream consciousness because of the original Motorola Droid telephone and the huge Verizon-led advertising and marketing marketing campaign surrounding it.
The discharge’s most transformative ingredient was the addition of voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation and real-time site visitors information — one thing beforehand unparalleled (and nonetheless primarily unmatched) within the smartphone world. Navigation apart, Eclair introduced stay wallpapers to Android in addition to the platform’s first speech-to-text perform. And it made waves for injecting the once-iOS-exclusive pinch-to-zoom functionality into Android — a transfer usually seen because the spark that ignited Apple’s long-lasting “thermonuclear conflict” in opposition to Google.
Android model 2.2: Froyo
Simply 4 months after Android 2.1 arrived, Google served up Android 2.2, Froyo, which revolved largely round under-the-hood efficiency enhancements.
Froyo did ship some essential front-facing options, although, together with the addition of the now-standard dock on the backside of the house display screen in addition to the primary incarnation of Voice Actions, which allowed you to carry out fundamental features like getting instructions and making notes by tapping an icon after which talking a command.
Notably, Froyo additionally introduced assist for Flash to Android’s internet browser — an possibility that was vital each due to the widespread use of Flash on the time and due to Apple’s adamant stance in opposition to supporting it by itself cell units. Apple would finally win, in fact, and Flash would turn out to be far much less frequent. However again when it was nonetheless in all places, with the ability to entry the total internet with none black holes was a real benefit solely Android may provide.
Android model 2.three: Gingerbread
Android’s first true visible id began coming into focus with 2010’s Gingerbread launch. Brilliant inexperienced had lengthy been the colour of Android’s robotic mascot, and with Gingerbread, it turned an integral a part of the working system’s look. Black and inexperienced seeped all around the UI as Android began its sluggish march towards distinctive design.
Android three.zero to three.2: Honeycomb
2011’s Honeycomb interval was a bizarre time for Android. Android three.zero got here into the world as a tablet-only launch to accompany the launch of the Motorola Xoom, and thru the following three.1 and three.2 updates, it remained a tablet-exclusive (and closed-source) entity.
Beneath the steerage of newly arrived design chief Matias Duarte, Honeycomb launched a dramatically reimagined UI for Android. It had a space-like “holographic” design that traded the platform’s trademark inexperienced for blue and positioned an emphasis on profiting from a pill’s display screen area.
Whereas the idea of a tablet-specific interface did not final lengthy, lots of Honeycomb’s concepts laid the groundwork for the Android we all know at present. The software program was the primary to make use of on-screen buttons for Android’s principal navigational instructions; it marked the start of the top for the everlasting overflow-menu button; and it launched the idea of a card-like UI with its tackle the Current Apps record.
Android model four.zero: Ice Cream Sandwich
With Honeycomb performing because the bridge from outdated to new, Ice Cream Sandwich — additionally launched in 2011 — served because the platform’s official entry into the period of recent design. The discharge refined the visible ideas launched with Honeycomb and reunited tablets and telephones with a single, unified UI imaginative and prescient.
ICS dropped a lot of Honeycomb’s “holographic” look however stored its use of blue as a system-wide spotlight. And it carried over core system parts like on-screen buttons and a card-like look for app-switching.
Android four.zero additionally made swiping a extra integral technique of getting across the working system, with the then-revolutionary-feeling potential to swipe away issues like notifications and up to date apps. And it began the sluggish technique of bringing a standardized design framework — known as “Holo” — all all through the OS and into Android’s app ecosystem.
Android variations four.1 to four.three: Jelly Bean
Unfold throughout three impactful Android variations, 2012 and 2013’s Jelly Bean releases took ICS’s contemporary basis and made significant strides in fine-tuning and constructing upon it. The releases added loads of poise and polish into the working system and went a great distance in making Android extra inviting for the typical consumer.
Visuals apart, Jelly Bean caused our first style of Google Now — the spectacular predictive-intelligence utility that is sadly since devolved right into a glorified information feed. It gave us expandable and interactive notifications, an expanded voice search system, and a extra superior system for displaying search outcomes typically, with a give attention to card-based outcomes that tried to reply questions immediately.
Multiuser assist additionally got here into play, albeit on tablets solely at this level, and an early model of Android’s Fast Settings panel made its first look. Jelly Bean ushered in a closely hyped system for putting widgets in your lock display screen, too — one which, like so many Android options through the years, quietly disappeared a pair years later.
Android model four.four: KitKat
Late-2013’s KitKat launch marked the top of Android’s darkish period, because the blacks of Gingerbread and the blues of Honeycomb lastly made their means out of the working system. Lighter backgrounds and extra impartial highlights took their locations, with a clear standing bar and white icons giving the OS a extra up to date look.
Android four.four additionally noticed the primary model of “OK, Google” assist — however in KitKat, the hands-free activation immediate labored solely when your display screen was already on and you have been both at your own home display screen or contained in the Google app.
The discharge was Google’s first foray into claiming a full panel of the house display screen for its companies, too — a minimum of, for customers of its personal Nexus telephones and people who selected to obtain its first-ever standalone launcher.