Android has evolved graphically, philosophically, and functionally from its inception to today. Google’s mobile operating system started rough, but it’s come a long way. Android Operating System Names have been a bit strange to some. They revet back to version numbers starting with Android 10.
Android 1.0 was released in 2008. This first version of Android did not have any desert-like names.
The software included early Google apps, including Gmail, Maps, Calendar, and YouTube, all embedded into the operating system, unlike today’s more easily updatable standalone-app paradigm.
The Android version naming tradition began with Android 1.5 Cupcake in early 2009. Cupcake improved the Android interface by adding the first on-screen keyboard, which was required as phones moved away from the still physical keypad. Cupcake also introduced Android’s first video recording option and the framework for third-party app widgets, which would fast become one of the platform’s most distinctive features.
Android 1.6: Donut
Android 1.6, Donut, came out in 2009. Donut enabled Android to run on a wide range of screen sizes and resolutions, which is vital in the coming years. Android’s imminent explosion introduced compatibility for CDMA networks like Verizon. Android 1.6 introduced the universal search box.
Android 2.0-2.1: Eclair
Android 2.0, Eclair, came out six weeks after Donut, and its “point-one” update, Eclair, came out a few months later. This was due to the extensive marketing campaign promoting the initial Motorola Droid phone. This was previously unheard of in the smartphone world voice-guided turn-by-turn navigation with real-time traffic information. Aside from navigation, Eclair included live wallpapers and Android’s first speech-to-text feature. And it made waves by bringing the once-exclusive pinch-to-zoom element to Android.
Froyo (Android 2.2)
Four months after Android 2.1, Google released Android 2.2, Froyo, which focused on performance improvements. Voice Actions were introduced in Froyo, allowing you to accomplish basic tasks like getting directions and taking notes by pressing an icon and giving a command.
Because Flash was so widely used at the time, and Apple refused to support it on its own mobile devices, Froyo was a significant choice for Android users. Of course, Apple would win, and Flash would fade away. Back when it was still common, viewing the complete web without black holes was a distinct Android benefit.
Gingerbread, Android 2.3
With the release of Gingerbread in 2010, Android’s initial visual identity emerged. The Android robot’s mascot has always been green, and Gingerbread made it the operating system’s default hue. Android’s long march toward distinctive design began with a splash of black and green. Being green in the Gingerbread era was simple.
3.0 to 3.2 Honeycomb
2011’s Honeycomb was an odd year for Android. Android 3.0 was released exclusively for tablets to coincide with the debut of the Motorola Xoom, and it remained so for Android 3.1 and 3.2. Honeycomb brought an entirely new UI for Android, led by new design leader Matias Duarte.
Its “holographic” design swapped the platform’s distinctive green for blue, emphasizing the tablet’s screen space. While the idea of a tablet-specific interface didn’t persist long, many of Honeycomb’s concepts helped shape today’s Android.
Android’s primary navigation commands, such as Back and Home, were initially handled by on-screen buttons. The introduction of a card-like UI later followed this up with the Recent Apps list.
Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0)
After Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, also introduced in 2011, marked the platform’s official entry into the era of modern design. The update enhanced Honeycomb’s design concepts and merged tablets and phones under a common UI philosophy. Ice Cream Sandwich lost Honeycomb’s holographic look but preserved blue as a system-wide highlight.
With Android 4.0, users could swipe away items like notifications and recent apps, which felt groundbreaking. And it began rolling out a standard design framework across the OS and Android’s app ecosystem.
Jelly Bean (4.1-4.3)
The 2012 and 2013 Jelly Bean releases took ICS’s new base and refined and built upon it. The updates gave Android more poise and polish, making it more appealing to the typical user.
Jelly Bean introduced us to Google Now, a fantastic predictive-intelligence tool that has since deteriorated into a glorified news stream. A more advanced search results system focused on card-based results that sought to answer questions directly.
Multiuser functionality was included, as was an early version of Android’s Quick Settings panel. Also, in Jelly Bean, a much-hyped method for putting widgets on your lock screen vanished a couple of years later.
The release of Android KitKat in late 2013 ended the dark era of Gingerbread and Honeycomb. The OS now has lighter backgrounds, a transparent status bar, and white icons, giving it a more modern look.
In Android Kit-Kat, the hands-free activation prompt only worked when your screen was already on, and you were either on your home screen or inside the Google app.
It was also Google’s first attempt to claim a whole panel of the home screen for its services.
Lollipop (5.0) and 5.1:
In the fall of 2014, Google released Android 5.0 Lollipop, fundamentally reinventing Android. Lollipop introduced the still-current Material Design standard, bringing a new look to Android, apps, and other Google products.
Everything from notifications, which were now displayed on the lock screen for quick access, to the Recent Apps list, which was utterly card-based, adopted the card-based design.
The “OK, Google” command enabled accurate hands-free voice control, multiuser functionality, and a priority option for better notification management. It changed so much that it introduced issues, many of which wouldn’t be fixed until the following year’s 5.1 version. Android 6.0 (Marshmallow)
It was a minor Android release, resembling a 0.1-level upgrade and not deserving of a real number boost. Google releases one major Android version per year, with its unique number.
Marshmallow’s most notable innovation was a screen-search function called Now On Tap, which I believed had a lot of untapped promise. Google never completed the system and quietly retired its brand the following year.
But Android 6.0 did introduce several enduring features like granular app permissions, fingerprint reader compatibility, and USB-C support.
Nougat (Android 7.0 and 7.1)
A native split-screen mode, an app-based notification system, and Data Saver were included in Google’s 2016 Android Nougat releases. Nougat also adds minor but valuable improvements like an Alt-Tab-like shortcut for switching apps.
However, perhaps most crucial among Nougat’s advancements was the unveiling of the Google Assistant, which came alongside the announcement of Google’s first wholly self-made phone, the Pixel, around two months after Nougat’s debut.
With Android and most other Google products, the Assistant is perhaps the company’s most important initiative today.
Oreo (Android 8.0+)
Android Oreo includes:
- Native picture-in-picture mode.
- Notification snoozing.
- Notification channels that let you select how apps alert you.
Oreo brought a new picture-in-picture option to the operating system.
Android version Oreo was released with some noteworthy features that improved the experience of using Android apps on Chromebooks, and it is the first Android version to feature Project Treble.
This project aims to create a modular codebase for Android, which may make updating software easier.
Android version 9: Pie
In August 2018, Android Pie, aka Android 9, drifted into the Android ecosystem.
On Android 9, there is a mix of gestures and buttons for navigating phones. The Home button is enormous and multifunctional, while the Back button is small but appears alongside it as needed.
A universal suggested-reply mechanism for messaging notifications, a new dashboard of Digital Wellbeing options, and more intelligent power and screen brightness management technologies were all included in Pie.
Also included in Pie’s filling were smarter Wi-Fi hotspot handling, a welcome twist to Android’s Battery Saver mode, and a slew of privacy and security improvements.
Android Operating System Names from version 1.5 has been derived from sweets like cookies and cakes. The first Android version to shed its letter and be known simply by a number, with no dessert-themed title attached in September of 2019. The software brought about a wholly rebuilt interface for Android gestures.
This time doing away with the tappable Back button altogether and focused on an utterly swipe-driven approach to system navigation.
Android 10 includes an enhanced permissions system with more precise control over location data, a system-wide dark theme, a distraction-limiting Focus Mode, and on-demand live captioning for any currently playing media.
The new Android ten privacy permissions mechanism brought much-needed subtlety to location data.
Android version 11
Android 11, due out in early September 2020, is a significant internal and external update. The essential modifications center around privacy: The upgrade expands on Android 10’s comprehensive permissions system by allowing users to offer apps limited access to GPS, camera, and microphone permissions.
Android 11 enables app access to your GPS, camera, and microphone for a single session. Android 11 also pushes the background location permission further into the system. It makes it more difficult for apps to request permissions.
It also includes a new feature that automatically revokes rights for apps that haven’t been opened in months unless you explicitly authorize them.
Beyond that, Android 11 disables an app’s ability to view what other apps are loaded on your phone, which was available until this release.
Essential but invisible, Android 11 doubles the amount of previously OS-bundled elements that are now standalone modules, allowing Google to update them regularly and globally without carrier or manufacturer participation.
It also includes a new simplified media player that controls all audio and video-playing apps and a contextual menu of connected-device controls for any innovative items associated with your account.
Android 11 introduces a new player that lets you access your music, videos, and photos from anywhere on your device.
All you have to do is hold the phone’s power button, and the new control screen shows up. On this other screen, you can quickly disconnect from any devices connected to your phones, such as Bluetooth speakers, smartwatches, or home security cameras. You can also remotely lock or erase any of these devices from this screen.
This screen lets you control your devices connected to your phones, such as Bluetooth speakers and smart home devices.
Finally, Android 11 brings Bubbles, a new form of multitasking mechanism first discussed in 2019 but put on hold until now. With apps that support the system, Bubbles allows you to pop discussions out into floating windows that appear on top of whatever else you’re doing and can be condensed down into tiny, floating bubbles that remain readily available for expansion.
Android’s new Bubbles feature was first developed during the development of Android 10. It finally made its public appearance with Android 11.
Other notable changes in Android 11 include:
- A new Notification History section.
- Native screen recording.
- Automated scheduling for the system-wide Dark Theme.
Android version 12
Google released Android 12 in October 2021, shortly after which it began bringing it out to its own Pixel devices, the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. Unlike previous Android versions, the most notable advancements in Android 12 are primarily surface-level.
Android 12 is the most radical redesign of Android since Android 5.0 (Lollipop) in 2014. That version was the first to use Google’s then-new Material Design standard. And this one is the first to use Material You, a newly redesigned version of that standard.
Material You change the look and feel of the entire Android experience, not just system-level aspects. Eventually, Android 12’s design principles will spread into both apps on your phone and Google services on the web. It will work on Chromebooks, Smart Displays, and Google-affiliated wearables.
The Material You idea allows you to adjust the palette and other aspects of the interface’s design, even having your phone produce dynamic bespoke themes for you based on the colors of your phone’s wallpaper at any given time. Notably, most of Material You’s significant design advances will likely be limited to Google’s Pixel phones at first.
In version 12, Google finally acknowledges that its own Android design choices are not universally applicable. As a result, it turns the limited availability of that interface and everything around it into a Pixel feature instead of a liability for Google.
Android 12 is a significant update to the Android operating system, and it will be available on Google’s own devices starting later this year. It introduces a new look and feels for the widget system and several substantial underlying improvements in performance, security, and privacy.
There are more granular controls over how different apps use your data and how much information you allow them to access.
For instance, it has an isolation section of the operating system that allows its intelligence. Features to operate completely offline.
Android 12’s new Privacy Dashboard provides more precise and granular details and controls over how apps access your data. While Android 12 is currently rolling out to some devices, another major Android update is already in.
Upcoming Android 13
On February 10, 2022, Google unveiled the first developer preview of Android 13. Officially, there isn’t much to say about Android 13. Android 13 may not have much official information about it yet, but the codename suggests that it could be a big update.
Android 13 will include new features or bug fixes, but we won’t know for sure until Google releases more information. In the meantime, we can speculate about what possibilities might exist.