Wednesday , 24 April 2024

Evolution of Android OS

Evolution of Android OS

The most popular Operating System for mobiles at the moment is Android, which was launched by Google way back in 2008. Android is an open source operating system written in Linux and basically designed for smartphones and tablets. It was launched during the period when Apples’s iOS(Also read: Evolution of iOS) was at the helm of the OS for mobiles market. Initially Android OS didn’t create any ruckus in the mobile world but it started to grow gradually.

Android was developed by Android Inc. which was later bought by Google in 2005. The first Android based smartphone was HTC Dream which was launched in 2008. As the OS is open-source, it allows the developers to play with the code allowing them to modify the code as per their needs. At present Android has one of the largest community of Application Developers writing and developing large number of applications that extend the functionality of the device.

Google has launched different versions of Android till now and the interesting fact to be noticed in these versions is that most of the names of OS are named after desserts and the names are in alphabetical order such as Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich and now Jelly Bean. Now the next version is expected to be Key Lime Pie. The first two versions were not given any name and just simply referred as Android 1.0 and Android 1.1 and from Android 1.5 specific names were assigned to the OS. Besides these versions, many incremental updates were launched on top of these OS to fix the bugs etc.

Also read: Less known android features in latest versionsAndroid apps for remote computer access and 15 Less known facts about Android.

While the mobile launched with the first version of OS – HTC made T-Mobile G1 or HTC Dream – was found wanting in many aspects and lacked many features but it showed enough promise to pull out some impressive features in future. And now after four years Android is running neck to neck with iOS and giving stiff competition to Apple Inc.

Let us see the different versions of Android in detail-

Android 1.0

As i said earlier, Android 1.0 was not given any name. For the first time this OS appeared in HTC T-Mobile G1 in 2008 and the features like Gmail, Bluetooth, Google Maps, Google Calender, pull down notification window were offered. And the most important one – Android Market – was provided. Though the market had just 35 apps but it caught the eyes of the developers. Since then Android started to make its mark.

Later in 2009, an update to this version, first ever software update- Android 1.1 -was launched. This version fixed some bugs and allowed the user to save attached documents.

Android 1.5 – Cupcake

Android 1.5 was named as cupcake and it marked the beginning of the tradition of naming the OS in alphabetical order. It was launched in April 2009 with API level 3. Video recording and uploading to YouTube, support for widgets and animated transition effects were added in this version. The on-screen default keyboard got text prediction feature and also the support for third-party virtual keyboards was provided.

Android 1.6 – Donut

Android 1.6 – Donut was launched in September 2009 with many improvements. Android Market was enhanced and the number of apps also increased. ‘Mark All’ option was added in Gallery. Screens with 800×480 resolution was also supported by the platform. Stand out features like Android Search, Voice Search Functionality, Handwriting gestures etc were added.

Android 2.0/2.1 – Eclair

One of the popular versions of Android – Android 2.0/2.1 (Eclair) – was launched in October 2009. Many camera-oriented features like flash and digital zoom, scene mode, white balance, color effect and macro focus were introduced. Other than these, multi-touch support such as pinch zoom, multiple user accounts, Quick Contact, live wallpapers, five home screens, improved keyboard, microphone icon for voice dictation in emails, speech-to-text option and Bluetooth 2.1 were included.

Android 2.2 – Froyo

Android 2.2 named as Froyo (derived from Frozen Yogurt) was launched in May 2010 with many bug fixes. The SDK for Android 2.2 was launched based on Linux Kernel 2.6.32. The highlight of Froyo is that it allowed the users to install the apps on SD card so that the internal memory can be managed efficiently. This version also supports 720p screens, Wi-Fi tethering etc. With the help Adobe Flash 10.1 integration, devices running on Froyo allow the users to watch videos on web other than YouTube.

Market application was enhanced with batch and automatic update features. Many incremental updates were released for Froyo such as 2.2.1, 2.2.2, 2.2.3.

Android 2.3 – Gingerbread

android 2.3 ginger

The next version of OS was Android 2.3 codenamed as Gingerbread which was launched in December 2010. This version supports large screen mobiles with much larger resolution. NFC (Near Field Communication) feature was added in this version with much improved power management. Internet telephone, video chat capability were also introduced.

Many incremental updates ranging from 2.3.1 to 2.3.7 were launched for Gingerbread.

Android 3.0/3.1/3.2 – Honeycomb

This version of Android was mainly designed for Tablets. Launched in February 2011, it came with much organised tablet UI, enhanced widgets, improved performance etc.

Android 3.1 and 3.2 were just incremental updates which were released to fix the bugs.

Some of features in Honeycomb are-

  • Dual pane modes for address book.
  • Support for video chat using Google Talk.
  • Hardware acceleration.
  • Redesigned keyboard, making typing fast, efficient and accurate on larger screen sizes.
  • Multiple browser tabs replacing browser windows, plus form auto-fill and a new “incognito” mode allowing anonymous browsing.

Motorola Xoom is the first Android 3.0 based tablet.

Android 4.0 – Ice Cream Sandwich

Android 4.0 was launched in October 2011 with much improved UI and ultra-modern features. This was launched with full support for multi core CPUs to improve the processing capabilities and the multitasking. The OS came out with virtual buttons, improved copy and paste functionality, Pinch-to-zoom functionality in the calendar, Face Unlock feature (a feature that allows users to unlock handsets using facial recognition software) and many more.

This is a Full Fledged mega hit OS with many latest smartphones running on it. To fix the bugs and to improve the performance many incremental updates ranging from 4.0.1 to 4.0.4 were released.

Android 4.1 and Android 4.2- Jelly Bean

android 4.2

After ICS Android 4.1 – Jelly Bean – was announced at the Google I/O conference on 27 June 2012 and was launched on July 9 2012. This was launched mainly to improve the functionality and performance of UI.

Nexus 7 was the first tablet to run Jelly Bean. With Android 4.1 being an incremental update not many noteworthy features were introduced. Some of the features included in Android 4.1 are- Smoother UI, Enhanced accessibility etc.

Key Lime Pie

Recently at Google I/O Conference, Announcement regarding the next version of Android rumored to be Key Lime Pie was expected. But the Search Engine giant didn’t make any announcement. Instead they announced the launch of new developer tools. Before key lime pie comes out it is rumored that we may get another version of Jelly Bean.

It is also being said that Google would be releasing Android 4.3 on white Nexus 4 June 10th.

Some facts about Android:

  • There have been 900 million activations for devices running Android so far nearly 1/7th of world’s population.
  • Google Play has now passed 48 billion app installs with humongous 2.5 billion app installs in last few months alone . Recently Google has removed 60,000 low quality apps from Google Play.

Also Read: Google removes 60,000 low quality apps

Infographics on Evolution of Android OS


Also read: Less known android features in latest versionsAndroid apps for remote computer access and 15 Less known facts about Android.

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About Sai Prashanth

IT professional. Love to write.